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There are an unlimited number of ways we can help you tell your story more effectively. Here are a few of the most popular.

Advocate Storytelling

Many companies use client or customer testimonials in their marketing materials. But testimonials tend to feel like generic platitudes, because they lack the context of the full story that motivated them—they’re often just the happy ending—and also because when you ask someone to say something nice about you, their brain naturally goes searching for compliments.

That’s why we focus on telling advocate stories. Advocates are your clients, customers, donors, or just supporters who love what you do and are happy to talk about it. When you ask them to tell their story about their interaction with you, the remembering and telling of that story activates a different part of their brain — they mentally go back in time, which enables them to speak in much greater detail about what they experienced, and to tap into the emotions they felt.

Advocate stories are also more effective at earning trust:

Customer advocacy is one of the most powerful marketing pieces that you can have in your bag. In most industries — and ours is no different — people trust their peers more than they trust anybody else. So, I can tell them all day long what our software does and why it’s great and why they need it. The moment they see and hear that success from one of their peers, there’s an instant trust factor there. And in marketing in any business, trust gets you most of the way there in terms of the stories that you need to tell.”

– Adrian Scholes, former VP Marketing, Newforma

Therefore, capturing your advocate’s full story, in their words, speaks powerfully to others dealing with a similar situation. It also makes for much more compelling content, because it is authentic, complete, and congruent from the audience’s standpoint, making it a more effective way to earn trust.

To learn more and see examples of our advocate storytelling work, please click to read about our work with Newforma.

Narrative Framing & Strategy Development

To tell your story effectively, we need to frame the story correctly. Our framing process is an in-depth investigation into your organization in which we examine the way you’re telling your story now, identify disconnects and where your story isn’t resonating with your target audience, and talk with your advocates to understand how they see and experience the work you do — and how they talk about it.

One of the challenges we often see is organizations that suffer from “The Curse of Knowledge” — meaning the people on the inside, who work in the space every day, have become such experts in the work that they forget what it was like to not be such an expert. But usually, the audience they are trying to move is made up of non-experts. The framing process helps break the curse of knowledge by re-framing the narrative from the insider’s perspective to the outsider’s, which usually means not only using different language to talk about the organization’s work, but thinking about the value the organization delivers in a different way.

After completing the framing process, we deliver a story summary, with recommendations on how to reframe the story, including how to effectively connect with each of the target audiences, and a strategy recommendation document, which includes specific strategies for telling this reframed story effectively, including both a long-term approach and specific tactical ideas. We then work with you to develop a narrative strategy to help you tell your story more effectively to reach your organizational goals.

To learn more about our framing process, please click to download our Framing Your Organization’s Story.

Data-Driven Storytelling

If you have data that illustrates something powerful — the impact of your work, or a challenge that calls for meaningful action — then that data can be used to tell a story. But too often, that data has meaning that is obvious to the experts, but not the audience, so simply presenting the data limits your ability to use the data to move or persuade your audience.

That’s why we work to find the story in the data and present it in an engaging, understandable way that sticks with people, and can be easily shared. We do this by leveraging your expert insight and our outsider’s perspective to discover the story in the data that can speak most clearly and powerfully to the audience you want to reach.

To see examples of data-driven storytelling, please click to view the information graphic series we produced for Forward Through Ferguson, Seeing Inequity: Visualizing Racial Disparities in St. Louis.

Narrative Training

People have been told to use storytelling in their marketing for years now. But how do you do that? Well, one way is to hire Story First for one of the projects above. Another is to bring us in to train people on how to become more effective storytellers. Our workshops give people the fundamentals on how and why stories are so powerful, the narrative structure that drives engagement and recall, the how to leverage the power of advocate stories, and much more. Here is a list of a few recent workshops and keynotes we’ve presented:

Tapping the Power of True Stories: How to Become a Storytelling Organization

Once Upon a Time At The Office: How Stories Shape Culture At Work

Put Your Stories to Work

Getting to the Core of Your Story

You, Storyteller

Storytelling and the Power of the Counter-Narrative

Storytelling for Social Change

To learn more about these presentations, or to explore options for your organization, please drop us a note!