When you Don’t Have Time for an Elevator Pitch.

A recent story entitled  Five Lessons on Compelling Content from Australian Football from the Content Marketing Institute caught my attention. With an intriguing title like that I couldn’t resist. One of the lessons discussed was about the power of storytelling to attract and retain loyal fans. As the article points out:

“Storytelling is at the heart of content marketing No matter the company or the communication goals, every brand has a story. And telling that story in a compelling and engaging way should form the crux of all the content you’re producing. People have been telling stories since the beginning of time, and though the formats may have changed, our desire to connect with others through sharing stories remains.”

Consider storytelling in the age of the Internet. The short attention spans of many Internet denizens puts a premium on cutting through the clutter with a minimum of content, yet still maintain the same branding, positioning, unique selling propositions, etc. that are the baseline for traditional marketing. It got me thinking about the limitations of telling a story — plot, character, conflict, resolution, within the scaled down formats of today’s social media.

Can you actually shoehorn content into 140 characters but still retain the semblance of a story? Instead of the elevator pitch (where you have the interval of an elevator ride to tell a captive prospect what you do) you might want to think of this new paradigm as a revolving door pitch. Whoosh and you are gone! Can it be done? Sure. Here’s one example.

Working for a staffing firm, I was trying to attract IT candidates to consider new jobs that were more interesting than their current ones. Some research told us that our target audience of engineers had a fondness for Haiku poems. (I think it has something to do with mathematical precision). Rememeber Haikus from high school? 5-7-5 syllables. Usually about nature. With apologies to Japanese poets everywhere, we came up with the following Haiku:

Eat sleep work eat sleep
Work eat sleep work eat sleep work
Want a better job?

That was it. The whole story. Does it tell a story you can visualize ? Does it show empathy and understanding of the problem? Does it offer a solution? All yes. This Haiku became a Google Adword ad, and ended up with the highest click through rate of any ad we ran that quarter.

So my advice is to go forth and tell your stories on the Internet as best you can. Just be quick about it.

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