Selling Storytelling

by Jun 6, 2017CMMA Blog0 comments

Once upon a time, storytelling started “trending.” We now hear about it frequently from many perspectives. And with good reason: people love stories. We watch them, we listen to them, we read them, and we tell them. They work for us as entertainment and as a way to communicate information. And of course, this holds true in the business world. Facts are necessary in making a decision or building a case for change, but stories bring the facts to life.

McDonald’s is known for quantifying and measuring. When our department made the case for a single, global digital asset management system we had our research, numbers and facts ready. When we made our pitch, however, we told stories of teams of people searching for a single asset, of existing media being recreated and of the same image being stored in dozens of locations. Our leaders know how to scale. The truth of those stories combined with our data helped them understand the scope of the opportunity and the project was approved.

Selling the idea of using stories isn’t hard but, telling those stories can be. A story requires focus while clients often have volumes of material they want to include in the project. Too many facts and details get in the way of a good story but, clients often insist on what they want. How can we get clients to adopt an effective, storytelling approach?

I have found that one way to manage clients through this process is to give them what they want right at the start. Write a treatment or a synopsis or draw up a sketch that exactly reflects their wishes. Then work up the same thing for the version that you recommend. Sit with your clients and take them through their version. Don’t “pump” it or “sell” it, just tell it. Sometimes this step is enough to convince clients that their version is a poor idea. This experience can open the door to you presenting your second version.

Either way, then say that you’ve been thinking about their objectives and their audience, and you’ve come up with another version. “Would you like to hear it?” I’ve never had a client say “no.” Pitch your idea and make it come alive. Use the power of the story to do the work. The engagement, clarity, and focus of your version will be apparent and can be easily approved.