On the Slant

Erin Berg

Who’s the J.K. Rowling of furniture? Learn how to tell your story

August 14, 2017

As a reporter, my job is to listen to stories and retell them. So it should come as no surprise that one of the most common statements I hear is: We have a great story, and we just need to tell it.

Actually, it’s not quite that simple. A story is only as good as the storyteller. Most people are not blessed with the gift of great storytelling, and there’s a good reason why they call it an art.

Since we’re all toiling away in the furniture business short of the wealth and fame of J.K. Rowling, I’m betting that we could all use some tips on how to craft a compelling story, especially these days as it becomes increasingly important to have a relevant brand with at least awareness and at best loyalty at some level.

Whether you’re creating your story for the first time or embarking on a brand evolution, consider some things that great storytellers know and use to captivate people.

Audience: Who are you telling the story to?

Make sure you think about your audience. If you are like most businesses, that audience is comprised of diverse groups. So it is even more important that you design your story so that it strikes a chord with different segments of your customers, depending on your goals, budget, etc.

Conflict: What’s the problem and resolution?

From a sales perspective, this should be an easy one for you. The conflict is the problem in the marketplace that your business solves. With the presentation of a problem that requires resolution, action follows. In short, something happens. Translation in the furniture world: Your product or service does something or sets into motion events that make a difference in the life of your customer.

Hero: Who or what will carry your story?

You always need a character that people can identify with either because of their situation or their personality, and even better if you can successfully pull off both.

Some marketers think your brand should be the hero of the story, but I don’t think that’s really necessary. In some cases, trying to make your brand a hero could look forced and unauthentic. I think what’s important is that your brand plays a part in the story in some way — and not merely by association requiring your audience to do the work to figure it out or struggle to remember who you are and what you do.

An excellent example of this is the Havertys ad campaign launched this spring that showed us with humorous real-life situations how “Havertys can make your home look perfect, even when life isn’t.”

Emotions: Are you making a human connection?

People don’t always remember facts and figures. Actually, research shows people remember a decreasing amount of information after a certain amount of time. I would cite the study, but I can’t remember where I read it. People don’t usually forget how they felt and what made them feel that way.

Visuals: Remember “Show and Tell” time as a kid?

Also memorable are images. Not only because most of us are visual learners but because visuals evoke emotions, which means that image does double duty. Images are also important for efficiency in this fast-paced world. According to research by the Post-It people, 3M, visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text.

Research Store