How do you help people grasp the benefits, scale or scope of new products, huge projects or innovative services? One way is through the art of storytelling, including putting concepts, trends, facts and figures into meaningful terms for your audience.
We work with organizations to develop messages that matter and resonate with media, consumers, employees and other audiences. Here are several recent examples that I think worked well and can be replicated for other topics:
- Draw familiar comparisons. Some companies are making and selling smartphone charging station kiosks to retailers, allowing battery-drained customers to securely power-up their phones while shopping instead of leaving the store or scrounging around for an outlet. The CEO of one of these kiosk companies, Brightbox, likens the charging stations to a “21st-century drinking fountain.” This describes a new product in a very familiar, visual way. What can you effectively compare your product or service to?
- Break it down. Spewing out big numbers and statistics can miss the mark or be overwhelming for readers or viewers. Try to break down numbers into relatable, everyday terms that the average person can grasp. For example, we work with MWH Global, now part of Stantec, which is the lead technical designer for the soon-to-be-completed Panama Canal expansion. The new third set of locks has all the engineering superlatives imaginable in terms of size and project “firsts.” The engineers brought the massive project down to size in a recent Denver television segment: the lock basins are big enough to hold 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools; it’s designed to withstand a massive earthquake like the one that just rocked Ecuador; the amount of concrete used is enough to build a highway between Denver and San Francisco; each gate is the height of the Ferris Wheel at a Denver amusement park. What statistics, numbers or monetary figures can your organization translate in easier terms?
- Find the trend. Increasing player safety and reducing the risk of concussions are big priorities for the NFL. Enter MVP, or the Mobile Virtual Player, a limited-release robot that’s used in football drills to mimic the sensation of tackling someone. It’s designed to prevent football injuries – a trend being played up in news reports and messages about MVP, which has found its way onto the Pittsburgh Steelers practice field and is being tested at several universities. Other descriptors: MVP can “run” 40 yards in five seconds and has a battery that can last the length of a regular two-hour practice. How can you link your product or service to a trend or show how it solves problems, big or small?
Wherever you look, you’ll uncover other good examples that help you better understand complex, new or intriguing topics. Your challenge is to make it just as easy for your own audiences.