Tag Archives: Storytelling

Why the Samsung India Service ad is a great storytelling example

Samsung service India ad YouTube screenshot

The Samsung India Service ad generated 150.3 million views, becoming the most watched ad on YouTube.

I got the update from this Marketing Land update and I’m not clear whether this was the most watched ad of November 2017 or the entire 2017 year. But that’s not the point of my this post.

First, watch the video…

//youtu.be/779KwjAYTeQ

The video shows a Samsung Service van driving through very rough terrains while the technician continuously reassures some “ma’am” that he is going to reach soon.

“Ma’am” needs a reassurance that he is going to reach before 7. He commits that he will. He and his van driver overcome multiple obstacles on a mountainous terrain.

She keeps calling and he keeps reassuring that he is going to reach on time.

Near to the climax we discover that “ma’am” is a young, visually impaired girl.

As soon as the technician realizes that, he has this wondering look, something like, why is she in a hurry to get her TV repaired, even when she cannot watch it?

The suspense keeps on building as he repairs the TV.

Finally, he is able to repair it and the young girl calls out to everybody in the house. Apparently it’s a hostel or a shelter for the blind. Young, smiling and laughing kids run into the TV room.

The girl asks for the TV remote, switches on the TV and there is this reality TV show, a singing competition, in which a blind girl is mellifluously singing a haunting Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan rendition.

It’s one of my favorites, so can’t resist putting it here for your pleasure…

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV7_YJf1BBw

The blind girl in the room very proudly tells the Samsung technician that the girl on TV is from there, and she is her best friend.

In content marketing we’re constantly talking about telling stories.

In this ad Samsung India, through a very touching story, tells how important giving such a service is, once people have invested in one of their products, and how seriously they take their customers.

They could have used the usual, run-of-the-mill advertising line showing a family in a metropolitan city having problems with their TV set and how Samsung Service quickly solves the problem.

Although this would have delivered the message, it wouldn’t have made the sort of impact that this ad makes.

How does the story make an impact?

  • People should relate to it
  • The storyline should be fluent and simple
  • The core message should be clearly delivered without overtly expressed (in terms of advertising and content marketing)
  • It should leave an imprint

Through this ad Samsung India Service successfully conveys that once you have purchased a Samsung appliance you are never on your own no matter where you are.

Through a single storyline the story manages to deliver the entire essence of Samsung India Service

  • They provide after sales service everywhere, so people should be able to buy Samsung appliances anywhere.
  • Their support staff and technicians are punctual.
  • They have launched a Samsung India Service van that can easily travel to remote locations.
  • The Samsung staff is committed and well-equipped.
  • Samsung Service is a part of your life story.

An emotional angle is added by showing that the place where the service van is going is full of blind kids and one of the inmates has made it to the national TV through her talent despite having no vision.

The story-line does not want to arouse a feeling of pity by showing a house full of blind kids who are very cheerful and full of jest and enthusiasm.

This spirit also rubs onto the technician from Samsung who is initially a bit puzzled by all the excitement and all the blind kids running around and later on, although subtly, he understands why the TV needed to be repaired urgently.

This, should be the essence of content marketing – tell meaningful stories that don’t just convey the business message that you want to convey, but also touch people deeply in a manner that they remember you and they want to associate with you.

Using negative storytelling as an effective content marketing tool

Photo of the dog named Eddie the Terrible

Here is the story of a dog named “Eddie the Terrible” who isn’t for the fainthearted, and this is a good example of negative storytelling as an effective content marketing tool. Who says stories that need to sell something (in this case, selling the idea of adopting this dog) have to be positive and full of praises for what is being promoted? The cute-looking dog that has been put up for adoption isn’t your typical cuddly and sweet dog you would love to run to and squeeze or cuddle with. The description of Eddie begins with

We know, we know. He is adorable. All small and yellow and fluffy. A little bit tubby which makes him seem more softer somehow, like a dog you can trust with your secrets. Don’t be fooled. Yes, he is a great listener. But inside that innocuous adorable blonde package exists tons – indeed, whole square miles – of naughty.

Then the copy goes on with describing how, although till now he has never attacked other dogs, he isn’t quite friendly. He isn’t even friendly with kids so the copy of the ad says that if you want your kids to grow with their toes and fingers intact, you better not adopt Eddie.

2) Want your kids to grow up with a full complement of fingers and toes? Not the dog for you.

Some dogs love kids. We have a bunch of child-lovin’ dogs. Eddie the Terrible, however, is not one of them. Honestly he’s a little whiffy with some adults, too. Not in an eat-them sort of way but in ‘this makes me very nervous’ sort of way. Eddie’s never actually bitten anyone but we’re not saying it could never happen.

What is the writer of the ad trying to achieve by saying so many negative things about the dog that is being put up for adoption?

First of all, all his naughtiness is being cutified. Then, honesty is the best policy when it comes to creating convincing copy. All the peculiarities the dog has have been put in the copy so there is no scope for confusion, misunderstanding and even a libel suit. Just imagine if the dog actually bites and the family with small kids adopts him and then the dog bites off the finger of a toddler. Not only a kid will be maimed for life, but the dog adoption agency will be shut forever for hiding this crucial information.

Nonetheless, if the agency has been able to keep the dog so can someone who knows about his peculiarities. So there must be some family around who would be fine with his misbehaving nature (misbehaving according to us humans, for dogs it might be just OK to act like Eddie). In case you’re worried, a brave couple has adopted Eddie the Terrible.

Photo of the couple that has adopted Eddie the Terrible

Does negative storytelling work as an effective content marketing tool? I don’t think there is anything negative about the whole story. The writer was just being honest in a funny, adorable way. Especially in this case it was very crucial to be honest because adopting such a dog for a family who might think that dogs are all fluffy and cute might be dangerous. You must’ve seen all those dog videos on YouTube where you see dogs being extremely patient with small kids. Such videos can be misleading. Dogs being animals, their behaviour cannot be predicted. So it would be very dangerous to write a honey-coated copy just so that people adopt such a dog. In fact, it is an effective marketing tool in the sense that people will appreciate the fact that the adoption agency is being honest.

So it is not about negative storytelling, it is about being honest. Can this also work if you’re trying to sell a product or a service instead of encouraging people to adopt an unpredictable dog?

Although you shouldn’t focus on the negativities of a product or a service while formulating your content marketing strategy all the time (if there are so many negative things about the product or service, better not sell it, no?), you should be honest about what your product or service can do and what it cannot do. People will really appreciate that. Provided the pricing is right and provided your product or service does exactly what it claims to do, even if there are some problems and even if there are some features missing, you are going to find your customers and clients. Negative storytelling or whatever, make your content honest. Provide the right information to your audience. It will always be appreciated.

How storytelling helps you sell more, scientifically

Sell more with storytelling

If you keep track of the various videos going viral on social networking websites like Facebook you must have come across this heart-warming video of a small puppy becoming friends with a horse. It is a Budweiser ad video.

The video has a typical storytelling format. There is this cute puppy that lives near a stable. It often sneaks out to meet a horse and they are shown interacting and playing together. Then one day the puppy is adopted and while it is being taken in a car it starts crying. The horse, along with other horses in the stable, manages to stop the car of the person who has adopted the puppy and then gets the puppy released. The stable owner adopts the puppy and then the puppy and the horse get to live together happily ever after, or at least this is what the video shows.

This Budweiser ad has scored top honours in the USA Today’s Ad Meter and Hulu’s Ad Zone for being the most popular ad among viewers. It uses the “buddy” concept that resides within the brand Budweiser to touch people emotionally. Nowhere you see people guzzling down the beer or scantily clad women drenching themselves with the foamy liquid. The ad is full of furry cuteness.

Research has shown that it’s not the content of the ad that predicts its success, but the story contained within the content. Storytelling evokes different neurological responses. According to Paul Zak, a neuroeconomist (yes, we have those), says that a stress hormone called coristol is released when we are experiencing tense moments in a story. This hormone helps us focus. When we are experiencing or reading about something cute, like furry animals (for instance the story above) a feel-good chemical called oxytocin is released that promotes connection and empathy. Happy endings in stories trigger the limbic system, that is also called our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine, which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic.

To prove his point Zak conducted an experiment. A sentimental and emotionally charged movie about a father and a son was shown to a group of participants. After the movie the participants were asked to donate money to a stranger. Those with higher amounts of oxytocin more readily gave money to a stranger than those who had lower levels of oxytocin (those who hadn’t seen the father-son movie).

How can you sell more with effective storytelling?

When people are on your website they are full of doubts. These doubts may originate from lack of information, lack of familiarity and a general sense of suspicion which is natural. They don’t know you. They don’t know about your product or service. They haven’t interacted with people who have used your product or service. So naturally they are not able to make up their minds.

This is where storytelling can help you.

You need to list the benefits of your product or service. You have to explain various features. But along with these, you also need to tell stories of people who have already used your product or service to enrich their lives. Create passionate stories involving your product or service. Show through what difficulties people were going before they purchased your product or service, through what sort of doubts they went before purchasing your product or service, how they ended up purchasing it and through what transformation their lives went after they have purchased your product or service.

More than believing you, your visitors would like to believe people who have been in a similar situation. People like to relate to people because for thousands of years we have been living as a social species. We need validation. We need reassuring information to give us confidence and trust. Effective storytelling can do that.

This blog post takes reference from a Harvard Business Review article on using storytelling as a strategic business tool.

What’s all this fuss about telling stories in content marketing?

Storytelling with content marketing

Everybody loves a good story, but what does storytelling have to do with content marketing?

Stories have been told since time immemorial. Even cave dwellers who hadn’t yet learned to use words (who knows? maybe they knew words but just didn’t know how to write them?) told their stories by sketching an drawing on cave walls.

The ancient traditions of storytelling

When there were no TV and Internet people would sit around a fire or near a hearth and tell stories, or listen to them with rapt attention. In India there are whole tribes of story tellers who roam from village to village, town to town, telling ancient stories and getting alms in return. In fact some of these storytellers are so famous that the government assigns a permanent salary for them so that they can keep the tradition alive.

What’s so fascinating about stories? We can relate to them. Whenever we’re reading a story, we see ourselves in one of the characters, or we have found ourselves in a similar situation, or we would like to get ourselves in a similar situation, or we strongly subscribe to the values represented by the story.

A story, in a logically arranged sequence, presents us with a problem, the ensuing struggle (or conflict), and then in the end, a resolution. After reading the story (let’s not talk about horror stories of the Stephen King variety) we can peacefully go to bed thinking that yes, it was a good end and no matter how many emotional ups and downs were there, in the end things worked out. A good feeling.

The same can be achieve with storytelling vis-a-vis content marketing. Instead of simply talking about your products and services in an uninspiring manner, tell the stories of people who were going through a problem that was eliminated by your product or service. People will immediately be able to relate to your story.

For example…

Peter always wondered why his website wasn’t converting well. He had purchased a very expensive template from one of the biggest companies that sold predesigned website templates. He had made sure that all the source code was search engine optimized. Since he didn’t find the photographs included in the template good, he spent further money to purchase expensive images from iStock.

After 5 months of relentless promotion and hiring a couple of content writers the results were as dismal as they were in the beginning. The bounce rate was more than 98% and at the most people stayed for 45-70 seconds on his website. He was running out of resources, he had started having constant fights with his wife as she thought he was wasting lots of money in the website, and found himself trapped in a vicious loop that was proving to be very difficult to break.

The story of how my content writing service helped Peter

Then one day Peter came to my content writing website.

He read about the importance of engagement. He read about how it is very important that your customers and clients should be able to relate to what you are conveying to them.

After reading a few blog posts and articles he logged onto his website and tried to look at it from a new angle.

Up till then he was simply interested in having a cool website with lots of content to improve his search engine rankings. Now he understood that it wasn’t just about looks and better rankings, it was about setting up long-term relationships with your prospective customers and clients through informative, helpful and expert content.

He realised that his website was lacking the most important ingredient: content that could convince. There was a sense of detachment. There was no “voice” in whatever was written on his website. The connection was missing. The business didn’t sound trustworthy. The writing didn’t try to solve any problem.

He contacted me.

From the beginning itself I told him I wasn’t interested in creating “tons of content” for his website. I would rather focus on improving the quality and effectiveness of the existing content.

We spent some time trying to understand exactly what he was trying to deliver to his customers? What was he trying to sell? What did his ideal customer want from him?

We shifted the focus from his product to the problem the product solved. Of course we talked about the product, but more than the product, we talked about the benefits, the ways around, and the various problems it could solve once his customers had purchased it.

We shared stories from happy customers. We collected as many testimonials as possible. We updated the content not because we wanted to cover as many keywords as possible, we updated because we wanted to share useful information with the visitors.

Gradually (actually, sooner than we had realistically anticipated) people started interacting with Peter. They would leave comments on his business blog. They responded to email newsletter that he broadcast once a week. He started getting email queries.

Then, two months after hiring me, and 7 months after having launched his online business, he made his first sale. He called me in the middle of the night to tell me that forgetting that I might be sleeping (it was daytime on his side of the globe and night time in my side).

It’s been a year now since I wrote the first web page for him. He has by now launched two more businesses, funded by the profits he made off his first business. 8 employees are working full-time under him and if things continue the way they’re right now, he plans to move to a bigger, upmarket office within the next six months.

Good story?

75% of it is true and the rest are some embellishments. But I’m sure you were able to relate to what Peter had to go through. This is what storytelling in content marketing does, it helps you help your customers and clients relate to you. Fill your website or blog with as many such stories as possible.