Storytelling That Moves Your Customers
Ever so often an unforgettable moment will happen in your life. Well, one of those memorable experiences happened during the evening of February 3, 2013. The funny thing is. . .it only lasted 2 minutes, but my memory of it, and others who were with me, the memory will last for the rest of our lives.
On that evening Jan and I had 16 of our closest friends in our home to watch Super Bowl 47 on our big screen television as the Ravens & 49ers battled it out in a close game.
Of course there was lots of cheering, joke telling, and friendly bantering as each person in the room chose the team they thought, would or should win.
We also laid out a smorgasbord that would rival a Golden Coral buffet.
I honestly can’t remember much about the game.
I can’t remember who performed at the halftime show.
I can’t remember most of the highly anticipated Super Bowl ads. . .except for one.
The Super Bowl ad of all Super Bowl ads came on during the 4th quarter.
In our den where loud talk among friends, laughter and cheering were the prevalent tones of the evening, suddenly fell silent as the ad began to play.
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Our attention was arrested.
Our emotions were engaged.
And after 2 of the most powerful and moving advertising minutes in history, our small group of friends were eager to purchase a Dodge Ram truck.
Forget that some of us were rabid Ford F350 fans. Whua
Chevy – forget about it.
Dodge masterfully took an idea and united it with an emotion through the power of storytelling.
Dodge simply called the ad “Farmer”.
A decades-old speech from a conservative radio broadcaster named Paul Harvey became the audio backdrop for Ram Trucks as scenes from every day life on the farm faded in and out.
The name of the seventies era speech was “So God Made a Farmer”. That famous line was woven throughout the speech like a fine tapestry and gripped all of us and tugged at our heart strings as we watched the video roll.
The effect the Farmer ad was mesmerizing.
During and after the commercial aired, some of our party guests shed tears of joy. There were hugs and high fives. A new and stronger bond was felt by everybody in our presence.
Have you read or listened to the poetic words in Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech?
For time reasons I won’t read the entire speech right now. Besides, I could never present them in the magnificent way the late great Paul Harvey did, however, let me read to you the last three paragraphs so you can get a sampling of the joyful exuberance Jan and I experienced with our dear friends on that blissful February night:
As I read these warm words imagine scenes of hard working men, women and children on the farm, with interwoven scenes of Dodge Ram trucks and you’ll get an idea of the enormous motivational power of tying an idea to an emotion.
“ God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church.
“Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life ‘doing what dad does.'” So God made a farmer.
Oh business pros, the power of storytelling is phenomenal. I get misty-eyed every time I hear or read those words with deep-rooted meaning and ultimate significance.
Do you see how the ad copyrighters captured and engaged our emotions by revealing some of the difficult situations involving the harsh conditions, tragedy, emotional pain and lots of dirt on family farms?
Of course there was also blood, sweat and tears.
Then they creatively tied the painful and challenging experiences of farm living to the idea that a rugged Ram truck will help ease your pain when you go through those hard times in life.
Storytelling moves people, so why don’t we use it more often in our branding and the marketing of our products and services?
Well, one suggestion I suppose is it’s much easier to state facts and figures and try to impress our prospective customers or clients with our knowledge.
Many of us we’re trained to explain the benefits of ownership of our products or services.
While facts and benefits are certainly good things and must be clearly communicated, they often fall on indifferent ears because of the lack of emotional connection.
Let’s contrast two prominent CEOs, Bill Gates vs the late Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs was a master storyteller who could stir up an audience’s emotions to a revival pitch. Enthusiastic Apple customers were often described as Apple Evangelists.
Steve had the ability to paint the villain (often some Microsoft product), and then bring in the conquering hero (some Apple product) to save the day. He was known to work weeks on crafting his presentations while millions of writers, developers and customers waited in anticipation for some new earth-shaking unveiling.
On the other hand, Bill Gates would deliver messages which were filled with logic, facts, figures, measurements and big words, often leaving his audience in a state of quizzical confusion. He conveyed data and stats, instead of captivating word pictures.
I suppose you could say both men faired very well in life, however, let me ask you a question: Which brand do you think wins when it comes to loyal and educated customers? Educated meaning, customers who know, understand and enthusiastically believe in the quality and mission of the brand?
Arguably, I think most would agree Steve Jobs did a masterful job of using the power of storytelling to compel millions of artistic people to energetically buy Apple computers, phones and tablets as evidenced by the long lines to be one of the first to own the newest Apple release. Yes they were and are known as the “crazy ones”, myself included.
I hope you’ve begun to imagine how the immense power of storytelling can produce a bond between you and your customers and clients. I say you because your customers or clients will buy in to you way before they buy in to your product or service.
So what is your story?
In your professional career, maybe the repeated line in a poetic story like the one written for farmers would be:
A storytelling paragraph followed by
“So God Made a Realtor”
“So God Made a Sales Professional”
“So God Made a Business Pro”
Maybe for your personal life your story line would be:
“So God Made a Wife”
“So God Made a Mother”
“So God Made a Husband”
I am not pushing religion or spirituality on anybody who may be listening. I am just injecting the main thought line that was used in the Farmer ad.
Your story line could be something similar or something entirely different based on your entrepreneurial journey.
I have one more story line I want to share with you from the farmer speech, but before I close out this podcast I want to encourage you to take the time to figure out your story and then craft the story of your company, or your product or service, or you as the business professional. After all, you are the face of your brand.
Remember, the secret to a powerful story is to connect an idea with an emotion. In future podcasts we are going to identify some ways to do just that. In fact, in the next podcast I am going to point out some lesser known companies who have used the power of storytelling to engage their customers in very meaningful ways.
For now, if I can help you establish or craft a story for your product, service or brand please go to entrepreneurnextdoor.net/consulting to find out more. I will put this link in today’s show notes.
The last paragraph I want to share with you taken from “So God Made a Farmer” was left out of the famous Dodge Ram Truck Super Bowl commercial. I think time constraints probably caused the paragraph to be removed.
I want to close with this short paragraph from the farmer ad because it too is very powerful. It beautifully contrasts strength and beauty, yet presents its logic in a complimentary way. Listen:
“I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon — and mean it. So God made a farmer.”
So let me ask you, are you drawn to the simplicity of the life described in this story? Can you visualize a rugged Dodge Ram truck parked in front of an old farm house as the weathered farmer walks in his front door to the smiles and sounds of his wife and her dearest friends engaged in exhilarating conversation?
Let me ask you one more question. At the beginning of this podcast, could you visualize our Super Bowl party and feel some of the same emotions that we experienced watching the Farmer ad during our party with close friends? I surely hope so because the idea that I was trying to connect with your emotions is that you are a valued friend to us. We love business people.
Even though we’ve never met in person, we value you as a business leader and as a fellow human going through this thing called life. If you are ever in our area please look us up we’d love to meet you.
If the stories presented here today resonate with you then hopefully you were emotionally uplifted from a story that was told well. Use that motivation to craft your own powerful story. Storytelling is perhaps the greatest means for persuasion ever used. My only caution is that you use its power for honorable purposes.
My intention, as I began this podcast was to begin with a familiar story in hopes that you felt as though you were a close friend watching the Super Bowl in our home with us on that February night in 2013.
During this presentation, I hope you experienced the life of a farmer, however briefly it may have been with the description of the well placed imagery and heartfelt audio in the Dodge Ram trucks commercial from one of America’s most loved broadcasters of all time.
Today I want to honor the late Paul Harvey by closing in a typical Paul Harvey fashion by saying: John Olson . . .good day!
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