I hope by now I’ve convinced you just how important storytelling is for your organization. But getting started with a robust storytelling marketing program probably seems a little daunting. Sure, you’re familiar with the history of your organization. You might even know some great stories about your coworkers. But how do you uncover those really juicy member stories…the ones that illustrate the life-changing work you’re doing…the ones that offer invaluable third party credibility to your organization?
Here are three strategies for snagging truly compelling member stories. Try one out at your next event.
1. Solicit stories after conferences or events.
You might already have a feedback survey in place to follow up with members after events. But if you don’t ask for a story, you won’t get a story. Simply stating, “Tell us a story about your experience at our event” won’t likely get you any usable material either. People need a little coaching. Consider a thought-provoking prompt to get them talking. For example:
Tell us about a member you met at the event who gave you an idea you can use in your business. Do you plan to stay in touch? How?
What session had the best information? Why? Did you connect with someone new during this session? Tell us about your experience.
What advice would you give someone who is considering attending the event next year? What is the “must see” attraction at this event? Why?
2. Solicit stories during conferences or events.
Deploy teams of roving reporters with thought-provoking questions to get members talking. Ask for a video statement whenever possible. Sometimes these off-the-cuff, in-the-moment stories are the best ones you’ll get all year. And members will appreciate the direct interaction with your staff. Try these questions to get members talking:
- Why did you decide to attend this year?
- Can you share a big idea you’ve picked up at the conference already?
- Have you made any connections with other members that will help you do business?
- What is everyone talking about this year? How do you think it will affect the way you operate?
3. Get creative.
The University of Alabama decided to capture campus experience using a photo-booth style device called “The Box.” Part marketing tool, part historical record, The Box provided the space for storytelling (and storymaking) to happen. The results were infinitely more authentic and telling than any responses the university would have gotten on a multiple choice survey. Consider setting up a testimonial booth at your next event, or imagine a more creative strategy to capture stories while delighting your members.
The stories are out there, and most of the time members are dying to share them. When you get a good story, don’t keep it a secret. Share it in your marketing pieces, on your website, and via social media. The members you feature will feel flattered, and others will be encouraged to share with you, too. If you don’t get anything good, up the ante. Offer an incentive, such as entry in a $100 gift card drawing, to encourage participation.
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