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This chapter is from the book

A Visual Marketing Method

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With the story-spine structure as a backdrop, let’s look at a way that can help you start the process.

Capturing Existing Stories

There are two important things to do in order to capture good stories. The first is to capture them when they happen, and the second is to extract the most important information so that you can create an engaging story.

The blank worksheet shown in Figure 3.2 can be used to do both.

FIGURE 3.2

FIGURE 3.2. Story capture worksheet.

Here are steps to take to capture your story:

  1. Make sure that you give the story spine diagram to anyone who will be collecting information, and explain what each section means.
  2. Give these people the template and tell them that for some part of a day (this can be repeated in small chunks of time or whole days as feasible) you want them to document the stories that they hear about from customers.
  3. Distribute the capture screen template to all appropriate groups, customer service, sales, shipping, bloggers, tweeters, etc. You want a diverse set of information.

After the collection process, do the following:

  1. Begin to analyze patterns and develop themes. You’ll start to see common items. Collect enough so that you have a good sample.
  2. Match the themes to your personas and keywords so that the stories you craft clearly have a real target with actual keywords.
  3. After you’ve created the stories, test each to see whether it resonates on a tool like Storify.com (see “Tools to Consider”).
  4. If a story tests well, figure out what content you need to create to make the story come to life: visuals, text, video, and so on. Then you can invest in the content knowing that you’ve got something worth amplifying. Figure 3.3 shows a sample template that has been filled in.
    FIGURE 3.3

    FIGURE 3.3. Story capture worksheet in progress.

Here is an example of how the most important information is extracted:

  1. Introduction of the current reality: The company is a high-end housewares store. The customer orders the crystal vase at the last minute for her mother’s 80th birthday. She is assured it will arrive on time.
  2. Conflict arrives: The vase arrives and although it’s heavily wrapped inside, she finds it has been cracked. She’s in a panic because her mother’s birthday party at a hotel ballroom is in two days.
  3. A struggle ensues: She takes out a trouble ticket but needs to hear back right away. She’s not sure what to do and complains to her friend. Her friend, who is more tech savvy, gets on Twitter and tweets about the incident to the company Twitter account asking for immediate help.
  4. The conflict is resolved: A company rep calls the customer and arranges to have the vase delivered to the party with a big bouquet inside it.
  5. A new reality exists: The bouquet and vase make a big splash and everyone is pleased with the great service. The rep saves an account.

With this story you have the opportunity to get photos of the birthday girl and her bouquet and the happy customer. Perhaps you can get a video or an audio that you can pair with a photo. You can also get a screenshot of the tweets.

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