We know the power of storytelling. It’s what we like to hear, and share.
“Stories (not ideas, not features, not benefits) are what spread from person to person.”
Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars
Every event should have a story. This shouldn’t be difficult as we know all events should be founded on a purpose, a theme or topic that connects with people. Every event must have a reason to exist – that resonates.
It could be said stories are like trains. Information travels in the story and gets off at each destination. In each telling. Each time the story is told that information is delivered at a new location. To a new audience. So as event people we should aim to build a story around our event that people will want to share. If your event has a story to be told, then your work as a marketer will effectively be done for you. Your event will travel with that story.
Just like stories, events take information for a ride.
Your message will be shared as the event is held.
If the point of your event is conveyed in your event story, if your message, the purpose of your event (and I hope you have one now!) is in the event story, the event will do your work for you.
If you want to raise awareness of your cause, make sure your primary message is tied up in the event. If it is a charity function, explicitly link the event story back to your cause. If you want to engage with your employees, make sure the event story relates back to your organisations aims. If it is brand positioning you seek, or sales you wish want to make, we need to embed relevant information within the event story.
When your message is included in your event story, your work is done. And when your message is in the stories shared about your event, your work will be done for you, again.
Make Your Customer the Hero
In Joseph Campbell’s classic storytelling structure, the Hero’s Journey, the character sets out on a journey, and encounters set backs on the way, before they finally succeed in their quest.
And we can create a journey, a story arc for your audience. They can be inspired by you, to set out on an event journey. However, before they commit to your event, they may encounter some ‘deal breakers’ on the way. It may be the cost, or the time available. It may be a perceived lack of capability, or they lose sight of the opportunity. So your role in the journey is to provide the ability, the motivation to conquer these barriers, to recommit to the event journey. So they take action, sign up, register and carry on their journey with you. They will then experience the event, reflect, and share their journey. When it is done well, your event provides a personal, and shared story. A shared journey for your tribe.
Stories by Association
We can use events to have our message conveyed, as events, like stories, carry information which is revealed within in the experience of the event. We can use this ‘Trojan Horse’ like strategy of placing a message within an event story, to be revealed in the experience.
We see this in all successful event partnerships. Any partner brand or sponsor that can link their message to an event can have their message travel on the back of that event story. The connection to the event story provides the partner with a platform, a vehicle in which their message can travel. And valuably, the message gains credibility by being associated with an event story the audience is connected to.
Destination marketers have used this to good effect across events for many years. Olympic Games hosts use the Games as a platform to tell their nation’s story, whether to convince the world the host is a major global player, or coming of age as a nation.
Shareable Event Stories
We can use events to have our message conveyed, and likewise we can use stories to help our event to spread.
We know people are highly likely to share a memorable story from an event. Much more than using most products or services. This is why events are such a valuable vehicle, a platform for a message, or a brand to be associated with.
‘Word of Mouth’ has come out on top of every ‘how did you hear about’ survey that every existed. So use this to your advantage. Create a event story that you want told. A message that can, and will, be shared for you.
So how do we create stories?
Firstly, what I always suggest is to know who the audience is, and the influence you want to have, or the point you want to make. Is it a message to engage? Educate? Or celebrate? For awareness, or action? You need to know what you want to say, and the reason why. And then we can build a story around that.
All the great storytellers have a structure they follow. Pixar famously has a typical story arc to each of their epic animations.
Once upon a time there was… Every day… One day… because of that…. Because of that… Until finally….
Donald Miller, in his book ‘Building a Story Brand’ suggests a framework with ‘The Character’, ‘The Problem’, ‘The Plan’, ‘The Success’. Or it may be as simple as Aristole’s classic, Start – Middle – End.
You can choose a framework to apply when you map out your characters event story.
Creating an event experience Journey MAP is the ideal way to storyboard your event, and then you can bring it to life in Moments of Impact. We can map out a campaign, the journey, like you would with any narrative, any novel, blockbuster movie or show. Creating a real life story.
Find out how to tell your event story, with the Experience Design Playbook.