Thursday, January 23, 2014

Two ads define storytelling for associations

Some association professionals ask me what I mean by storytelling. 

An email from Ohio State alerting me to a 90-second Apple commercial featuring the Ohio State Marching Band started my thinking about this blog on association storytelling.

Thus, I found two ads that demonstrate compelling storytelling that serve as great examples for association marketers and membership professionals. (Keep in mind that most association storytelling will feature free media and not paid commercials. But, the time limits of a paid ad help demonstrate the power of storytelling.)

Here are the two examples of the power of storytelling:


Apple’s ad for iPad: “What will your verse be.”
Driven to this spot by the OSU email, I discovered that there are only three short clips of the OSU band ... these could be missed if you don’t recognize the band’s branded uniforms or Buckeye leaves on the drums.

The story’s core message:
  • Each of us has something to share. A voice, a passion, a perspective. The potential to add a stanza to the world’s story. We were so inspired by how people use iPad every day, we set out to capture a few of these moments. See this video
Note that the ad doesn’t tell you all the details about the Apple iPad nor is it a hard sell. But, the story’s theme around our dreams and aspirations serves a powerful message for Apple.

Dell’s branding commercial on “beginnings & Room 2713.”
  • The central message of Dell’s new campaign is that Dell is “part of some of the world’s great stories, stories that began much the same way ours did, in a little dorm room, No. 2713. (I love the specificity of room No. 2713 ... rather than “a dorm room.”) The ad features “the little room over the pizza place at 315 Chestnut Street,” where TripAdvisor began in 2000, the “modest first-floor bedroom in Tallinn, Estonia,” where Skype was started in 2003 and the “second floor above the strip mall at Roble and El Camino,” where Shutterfly began in 1999.
The New York Times wrote about the ads in Reborn, Dell Aims Message at Businesses
  • The NYT story focuses on Dell’s branding as it recovers “from a bruising battle to take itself private, Dell is introducing a business-to-business brand campaign on New Year’s Eve to promote its entrepreneurial spirit and that of well-known corporate customers like Whole Foods, TripAdvisor and Skype.”
How does your association fulfill the aspirations and dreams of your potential members? How do you connect with those your organization helps? Storytelling – with the message on people and their aspirations – can drive home your association’s vision and create interest in being part of it.

Here are seven keys for impactful association storytelling:

  1. know your audience as well as the specific goals for telling the story
  2. use real, authentic people and their real stories
  3. use specifics (like dorm room No. 2713)
  4. use photos, video and other visuals that reinforce the core message
  5. keep it short, sweet and easy to repeat (along with links that can be shared with friends, family or colleagues
  6. maintain an online catalogue of your association’s stories both on your website and on your association’s YouTube channel
  7. use social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and regular media (newsletters, magazines, trade publications, etc.) to spread the word about your latest association story

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