Early in my career, I worked for a software company for whom one of my responsibilities was responding to requests for proposals. These documents comprised answers to dozens and dozens of feature-functionality questions, as well as information on installation, service, upgrades and pricing.
Dry as toast.
I knew from experience of the value of using a story to grab and engage an audience. So, in an effort to reel in readers to these multipage, jargon-filled documents, my opening paragraph likened the software to a symphony. I explained that the software—albeit comprising voluminous features and functions—was designed to work as one entity, much in the same way an orchestra’s varied instruments nonetheless unite under the baton of a conductor to produce glorious art.
My draft went to the CEO. Who hated it. “Just get to the feature-functionality-pricing stuff.”
I tried to make the case for my less-than-conventional approach, saying, “The document gets to that later. I just thought it was more inviting if there was a hook to pull the readers in. What good is all this if nobody reads it?”
But my melodic metaphor fell on deaf ears.
Times have, however, changed. Wrapping marketing messages around stories is now much more common (perhaps I was a little ahead of my time?). A quick scan of commercials bears this out: They have become mini dramas (or comedies or even tragedies), with the purchase pitch at the conclusion.
I maintain that any of your industries, from consumer goods to tech to healthcare to service, can and should find a narrative way to position your offerings.
All it takes is a little creativity.
And, as you brainstorm, perhaps a little music in your earbuds.
Dan Weckerly is an experienced public relations professional currently counseling a number of companies local to the Lehigh Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].