I’m looking at you, Elder Millennial.

“People like us do things like this.”

- what marketing is meant to demonstrate / evergreen advice from the irritatingly prolific Seth Godin

A big part of the point of organizational storytelling is to encourage your audience to see themselves inside the story you’re telling. You want your audience to walk away feeling like your story is part of who they are, and vice versa. This principle is nicely summarized in the quote above.

Your stories should prove that, yeah, people like you do things like this.

Which is why I love this example from the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia.

And the post from the ED of the org, which is also just gold.

Tweet: “I don’t know who on our team at HSNEGA wrote this bio but they’re getting a raise! PS, I’d 100% adopt this dog!”

Now, I know there’s sometimes moaning among representatives of non-cute animal based nonprofits about how easy places like the Humane Society have it. I mean, cute animals, amiright? Nonetheless! This copy is truly a next level delight.

And here’s why.

  1. It’s surprising. Years ago I heard Serena Williams’s nerdy husband Alexis Ohanian speak at a conference on social media about how surprise and delight are the fuel of the internet. (He used the Mister Splashy Pants case study as his example. It’s one of those moments that gives you hope in humanity, y’know?) And even though this is analog copy, intended to live in the real world, it’s there to capture my attention and make me laugh. And it did so enough that the image got tweeted by the ED, retweeted by the great John Haydon, whose tweet I saw. And now I’m writing to you lovely people all about it. A virtuous circle!
  2. It’s familiar. I, an Elder Millennial of the Internet, get. Exactly. What this story is talking about. And I feel only slightly attacked by its weird accuracy. I recognize something of myself in Wrigley’s “story.” And that eery, humbling moment of self-awareness makes me feel more connected to this culinary, health-conscious pooch steeped in 90’s nostalgia.

So, look, the point is this. The team at the Humane Society could have written any story.

They could have told me about how Wrigley was found, tiny and starving, under someone’s porch on the outskirts of town. That story might motivate me through sadness and guilt.

They could have told me how Wrigley loves to snuggle and is a bit shy around new people but would be great in a home with young kids. That story might have motivated me through the warm fuzzies that come with imagining a life with a true family dog.

Instead, they told me my story.

Well, not mine exactly, but one that could be mine. Or my friend’s. And it’s laugh-out-loud funny., which is great, because now my guard is down and I just might walk away with a puppy.

Which brings me to one more level of brilliance here. When I inevitably adopt Wrigley because this brilliant copy stole my heart, I’m not just taking home a dog. I have a story to tell. I guarantee you, whoever the lucky soul is who takes Wrigley home is going to be sharing the anecdote of this pup’s EZ Bake Oven over drinks for years to come.

How do you help your audience see themselves in your work? How does that story lead them to a deeper connection? Are you telling your story, or giving them a story to tell? And hey, looking for a new friend? Check out the Humane Society! Or, how about this — so that pups like Wrigley can find their forever homes and learn how to bake in ovens!

Originally published at https://www.tinywindowsconsulting.com on November 14, 2022.

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Principal, Tiny Windows Consulting. Co-host of @ThrowingSheyd. Singer, songwriter, mom. Communication is an act of creation. What kind of world do you want?

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Miriam Brosseau

Miriam Brosseau

Principal, Tiny Windows Consulting. Co-host of @ThrowingSheyd. Singer, songwriter, mom. Communication is an act of creation. What kind of world do you want?

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