I love stories. I was reminded a few days ago of the power of stories to communicate the benefits of technology. However sometimes I have trouble persuading clients that storytelling is the BEST way to communicate a complex, potentially boring (sorry!) message, and to persuade people to share it.
Whatâ€™s my story? I was at a cloud computing conference not that long ago. Why? I love what the cloud can offer businesses, we use many cloud applications ourselves, and many of our clients offer cloud based solutions.Â I also find it very useful to see how new technology works in practice. Also, the opportunity to meet new people is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my job.
While I was listening to a presentation and Q&A session, I received a text. It was from our virtual answering service letting me know that someone had called asking about our services and requested a discussion. This is always music to my ears! Unfortunately the caller left their name and company, but no phone number.
I wanted to leap on the opportunity before the prospect had a chance to talk to anyone else. Marketing is a highly competitive industry so itâ€™s very important to respond quickly.Â However, I was at a conference, sitting right in the front row and listening to a captivating presentation. Iâ€™d been in this situation before: out of the office, unable to log into the VPN to access my email, only being able access LinkedIn contacts through a frustrating series of logins and re-directsand having to wait to send documents until returning to the office.
Fortunately over the last few months we executed a cloud application strategy, transforming everything from our finance (Xero), to job management (workflow MAX), email (Corporate Gmail), task management (Remember the Milk, Evernote, Skitch) and document management (OpenKM). So I was curious to see whether this, along with the introduction of the new, improved LinkedIn App, would improve my ability to track down this prospect remotely.
Sure enough, within five minutes I was able to find the prospect on LinkedIn, request to be connected, send a message through the appÂ and talk to him on the phone (after discreetly slipping out of the front row!) and firm up a meeting. Over the subsequent five minutes I fired up Gmail, LinkedIn and online search, as well as our cloud-based storage system to find and send some examples of our work. I then summarised our call in Evernote and added in a couple of to-dos to prompt me to follow up more extensively when back in the office.
I was able to manage all this from my smartphone quickly and easily. And apart from the actual call, I managed to catch most of the presentation without missing the business opportunity. So in a wholly unexpected way, this conference truly illustrated to me the power and convenience of the cloud!
Learning from the master storytellers
I hope this anecdote illustrates how powerful stories are in communicating the benefits of technology. If it has piqued your interest, I encourage you to check out this article in Harvard Business Review, which eloquently illustrates how to capture hearts and minds by using stories in business.
One of the best storytellers I have ever heard present was Allan Leighton, the man who sold Asda to WalMart for around Â£6.7bn. Each of his PowerPoint slides consisted of one word on a white background and brought to life by a powerful story told with energy, charisma and conviction. I have never forgotten any of the lessons he taught that day. I also went out and ordered his book from Amazon that evening.
Why not share your story in the comments or propose a guest blog?
I wish you all the best for 2013 and raise a toast to this yearâ€™s stories!