Three years ago, I saved this tweet from GaryVee into a draft blog post.
“Storytelling is by far the most underrated skill when it comes to business.”
— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) March 18, 2010
Three years. I’ve rewritten this post more times than I can count. The point is, this little 140 character tweet cuts to the core of so much that I aspire to as an animator of explainer videos. The reason is because truly outstanding storytelling can be the difference between someone leaning forward and paying attention to your video and someone just clicking away and tuning you out. Storytelling, more than ever, is what sets great companies apart from their competition. Why? Human nature. Let’s face it, everyone enjoys a good story and people don’t relate to brands; they relate to people.
A story can be an incredibly effective tool for your business. The biggest reason is because viewers are entertained as opposed to sold to. Using corporate speak is the fastest way to lose a viewer. Your story should convey a feeling that is bigger than your product or service and in a way that is like a yarn being spun between friends. If it is well written, it will “illustrate” how your product or service accomplishes a goal or solves a problem without using salesy language that would have turned them away originally.
The unexpected piques curiosity
Nothing makes people lean forward more than seeing something out of the ordinary. Whether that is George Washington taking a multiple choice test or some other preposterous scenario, make the “hook” in your story unique and people will pay attention. A viewer’s mind will naturally begin to look for answers which will get them invested in your video and how the story resolves. P.S. make sure you resolve the story.
Humanize the story
If you want to entertain, then your story ought to grab people’s attention. People WANT to laugh and they want to smile. By appealing to their emotions, that’s how you humanize your brand. Tell the story of your product or service like you’d tell a story to a friend over a beer. Not over several beers as we all know what happens to your storytelling ability once your brain has been lubricated. But you do want the viewer to feel like you understand them or like you are speaking DIRECTLY to them. How do you do that? Put ‘them’ in the video and speak to their key problems that your product or service solves. Here’s a typical story line that I use often during the script writing process:
Meet Paul. His job is made stressful because of XYZ. He discovers YOUR SERVICE HERE and gives it a try because it makes dealing with XYZ so much easier. It works fantastically and Paul is happy as a lark. Don’t YOU want to feel like Paul?
Make the viewer see themselves or their own situation in what is going on in your video. If someone clicked to watch the video, they’ve already expressed interest. Now you need to show them:
- You understand their pain points or anxieties
- You came up with a solution to solve their problems
- Explain how your product or service solves these problems
- Show that it will all be OK
Every brand, every service, every widget out there has a story to tell. You just need to know how to tell it and how to make your viewer lean in to learn more.