Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Storytelling ~ It's In Our DNA

We’ve all been hearing the word “storytelling” in marketing and social media conversation quite frequently these days.  I'm baffled why this seems to be the latest fad. After all isn't storytelling in our DNA?

For those of us who have worked in marketing, public relations and advertising, we’ve been crafting and delivering those “stories” for a {very} long time.
  • Key messaging
  •  Investment appeals
  •  Call to action
  •  Crisis communication
  •  Competitive analysis
  •  Market overview
  •  Benefits of service(s)
  •  Long-term strategy
  •  Case studies
  •  Testimonials
I don’t claim to be a writer but I do draw upon my experience of formatting and designing “stories” for senior level management, events, non-profits, and start-ups for a variety of audiences.  Nothing new, mankind has been communicating with imagery for thousands of years.

More than 10 million Google results are listed when you search “storytelling for business." I love the lead from a prominent social media blogger, “In storytelling for business, you want your reader to take action.”  Drop the word “storytelling” and we’re back to the principles of a communications strategy.  This is where all my copywriting colleagues should be standing on top of their desks, raising their hand with a big “OH YEAH!”

Technology is Today’s Campfire
A few months ago I was in the audience listening to a Chicago Tribune photographer talk about visual storytelling in today’s ├╝ber-connected environment. Assimilating technology to the time when we sat around the campfire and told stories from one generation to the next. I wonder if YouTube, Facebook or Twitter will be considered this generation’s “campfire.”

There exists, I believe, a hunger for authenticity when technology lacks warmth. As usage of mobile devices, apps and gadgets increases rapidly, stories like the unemployed college grad who made a small fortune self-publishing her books are eaten up like jelly beans on Easter morning. Or, a YouTube video going viral in a matter of hours.

I find unspoken power of marketing and communications in combining images and text to tell a story. 

Effective visuals derived from these five core principles: archetype, face, experimental, emotion and shock. 

The most widely used being archetypical and emotional imagery.

Storytelling for business has a similar structure to that of fiction. (Figure)

What story are we crafting today? I hope it’s one where I/we get to dig deep into the photo archive.

PS: I’m also diving into “visual storytelling” and how we can craft messages and allegories with imagery.  
Here’s a reference from My Modern Met, (may not be NSFW).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Goodbye Posterous, Hello Blogger

Posterous is shutting down April 30th!

I've been with the platform for several years and used it for a variety of reasons. Mostly because I despise Wordpress. Which has become a spammers playground. I must receive a half dozen spammy comments per day; funny thing... I turned off comments.

Switch to What?
I toyed with the thought of joining Tumblr, however, my 14 year old pleaded with me NOT to move my blogging to Tumblr.  OK. 

Blogger here I come.  I find I'm using the Google applications more and more, so this was a logical choice. I'll get the design and structure set up once I get all my content moved over.  

PS: the back up and import option was a total fail for me. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Clean Your Presentations :: Free Template

The weather report is forecasting nine inches of snow for Chicago, I hope you'll be spared.  Regardless, Spring is just around the corner and there's no better time to clean up your presentation and/or marketing materials. This month's free presentation template is just the cure!

Quick fix solutions to improve your presentation:
  • Remove/reduce the affects applied to type.
  • Don't overwork the type with colors, and AVOID WORD ART.
  • Select bullet symbols and keep it neat, avoiding picture-based bullets.
  • Reduce the amount of text on every slide, the focus is your speech.
  • Purchase quality stock images that represent your brand/company and build your own library.
  • Graphics should fill the screen, not be a postage stamp.
  • Simplify charts/graphs to essential data, building a series, if needed, to emphasize a complex idea.
Remember, they came to hear/see YOU speak, not have the slides read to them. This also applies to web-based presentations. The presentation is the backdrop to re-enforce your message. Offer to give or send a whitepaper, e-book or marketing kit in your followup.

Free Powerpoint template, available for download and immediate use.

Crafting Your Investor Pitch :: Marketing Decks for Small Business

We're all aware of the limited time we have to grab someone's attention; 1-2 seconds for a headline, 4-6 minutes for a blog post, 10-15 minutes for a pitch.

Wow! I'm guilty. Using aggragators to tag items for reading later, scanning my inbox for relevant/need-to-know now emails, and jumping off webinars once the presenter begins reading the slide content.

Have you ever been to a Pecha Kucha (or similar) event? 20 SLIDES x 20 SECONDS EACH. Each presenter has ~ 5 minutes. It's fast-paced and differentiates those with a passion for their story and the discipline of practice. This is ToastMasters on steroids!

In my previous "deck", I outlined a 12-slide structure, Universal Pitch Deck that can be adapted for any {business} presentation. A keep-it-simple outline to help you focus your content.

My most recent "deck" contains common sense tips for planning and preparing your pitch deck. 
  1. Keep in mind that investors see/hear A LOT OF PITCHES
  2. Get to the point, be clear and concise.

More presentation/pitch resources:

Another day to find activities to keep my 14 year-old occupied while teachers and school board continue negotiations here in Chicago.