Having minimal research on this point, I’ll still propose that just as soon as Man could communicate, he told stories. Storytelling seems to be embedded into the human DNA. We understand much of our world through the stories we are told because stories, not mere recitation of facts, put things into perspective. Fables, myths, history, even the Bible, are passed along from one to another by stories that illuminate the consciousness.
So, for instance, you want people to know you have the most compassionate team in town. You could simply say so. Or you could relate a story about how one of your support crew noticed a family member shaking in the cold and took off his own coat to place over the shoulders of the family member. That’s a story that goes far deeper and gets remembered.
People love a good story. It’s why, with one of our cemetery clients whose property includes the graves of city founders, pioneers and early settlers, we run ads that tell the stories of these individuals. These stories, in a traditionally low-interest category, have gone a long way toward re-invigorating this client’s nearly forgotten brand, making it vibrant again.
And stories aren’t just what you tell others about you, it’s what others tell about themselves and their loved ones. At this last NFDA Convention, we saw a booth for LifeArt Caskets, a company that creates completely customizable casket graphics. Now family members can tell the story of Grandpa by including photos of Grandpa and their personal thoughts directly on the casket. At the same time, more and more people today are thinking about their legacies, how they, themselves, will be remembered. Your helping them to do that can be part of their storytelling experience. You might do this by hosting web pages that let family members talk about their personal histories and how they’d like to be remembered. Take your storytelling beyond the obits to someplace new and interesting to those who are or might soon be your customers. See what Aurora Casket is doing with their BeRemembered site, and Rose Hills Memorial Park with their “Legacy Wall.”
New and emerging technologies like DNA Memorial are creating even more opportunities to pass along one’s life story through the preservation of their DNA. What could you do with that to help tell your story and merge it with your families’?
Another way to think about stories is to consider the stories one tells about oneself. Starbucks is a great example of this. Someone who frequents a Starbucks store isn’t just buying a cup of Joe, they’re putting themselves in the middle of a story about the sophisticated lifestyle they lead, a lifestyle that includes frequenting a place that practically requires an operations handbook to order the “Skinny Vente Chai Pumpkin Latte,” whatever that is. Starbucks has nurtured the up-cultured, up-priced internet-connected boutique coffee house story wonderfully. You can do the same if you think about what it might mean to a family or customer to do business with you. Are they smarter? Do they have a wider support network? Are they better enabled to move forward? What’s that story?
Since the days of sitting around the fire while dining on mammoths, storytelling has been an important part of passing along ideas from one person to another…and from one generation to another. You just can’t do that by listing a bunch of bullet points! So come up with a good story and make sure to let everybody in on it.
Dan Katz is president, creative director of LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Dan on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Dan on LinkedIn. See agency work via this link.