. . . if they don’t see themselves in them.

I just read this interesting article by Tom Neveril called “Consumers Ignore Ads that Don’t Tell Their Stories” in Advertising Age. The first part of the article talks about some market research for a new beverage targeted at surfers and then analyzes what happened with Tide to Go’s MyTalkingStain campaign. The SuperBowl commercial was ripe for spoofs, so Tide set up a site where people could submit their own spoofs — stories about their own talking stains, putting themselves into the narrative. People liked the commercial because they could imagine a stain on their own clothes talking.

The bottom line is that people don’t really care about the rational claims they hear in ads, or about stories about other people not like them (or people they admire or can otherwise relate to). If they can’t connect in some personal way, they ignore it.

Can your supporters relate to the stories you are telling? They don’t have to be in the same situation as the person you are telling the story about, but can your donors share an emotion with that person? Is there some common human experience they can latch on to? Can they see themselves helping that person through your organization?

The second part of the article has some helpful how-tos that nonprofits can use to conduct ethnographic research (listening to people talk in their own environments, where the stories will flow from them much more naturally) and then use those stories in your marketing.

— Trigger memories through senses

— Know how to identify a good story (protagonist – antagonist conflict)

— Add an element of surprise

— Focus on the markers of a good story

Want to learn more about telling your nonprofit’s stories? Check out the webinar I’m hosting on May 14.

Published On: March 13, 2008|Categories: Storytelling, Writing Skills and Content|