March 24, 2011

Tell me a story

Chris Savage

Founder, CEO

A couple of days ago, a brand new product called Flow was born. After a quick perusal around the site, I was a little confused about the product. How does this thing work? Why should I care about it? Where does this fit into my life? I was about to bounce when I saw this video:

Wow! Within the first ten seconds, I was in love. Or, at least, I was engaged in the video and interested in the product. How did one little video turn my thinking around? It told us a story. Let’s take a closer look at why telling a story is such a great tool for getting people interested and keeping people interested.

We Can Relate to It

Most of us have somehow been involved in planning a party. So, when the announcer first introduces the guy planning a party, we all remember the process. When the checklist appears above the guy’s head, we recognize the slight stress we might feel if we had to complete those tasks. Our natural human empathy is stirred and we’re in the party planner’s shoes. As the story unfolds, we see how efficient and stress free party planning could be if we had Flow and because of our emotional involvement in the video, we actually care.

It Creates Urgency

If, instead of creating a storyline, the announcer had simply started pitching the product, half of us would have stopped watching the video before we ever learned how the product could help us. We would have written it off as something that we don’t need since most of us probably don’t need it right now. But by creating a story, the video puts us into a situation where we can imagine desperately needing an organizational tool like Flow. So, we end up wanting to purchase Flow so we’ll have it when we need it.

It Gives Us a Product Demonstration (in an interesting way)

Every part of the story shows a way that we could use Flow or one of Flow’s features, so we’re learning new information about Flow at every turn. For example, when we see the main character shopping for groceries while using Flow on his phone, we learn about Flow’s iPhone app. Now, we have a clear picture in our mind of how, why, and even where we would use Flow’s iPhone app - when we’re shopping for groceries. While we’re learning about Flow’s features and capabilities, the story’s moving along so we have no time to get bored.

It’s Memorable

Thinking back on Flow’s features after we watched the video, we remember the characters using each feature. We might not otherwise remember whether we could use the product on our iPads, but now we see in our mind’s eye Guy 2 sitting outside in sunglasses, using Flow on his iPad. We remember this clearly because human memory is better at retaining pictures than words or ideas. That’s why most memory courses teach people to use visualization techniques to aid their memory. Flow’s video helps us remember not only the features themselves but also their practical applications; we remember the situation in the video in which the feature was useful.

It Doesn’t Feel Like a Sales Pitch

The story entertains us. It introduces us to different characters. It shows us not only how each of them uses Flow, but a bit of their personality (Guy 1 eating yogurt, Guy 2’s finger-twisty-pointing at his iPad). The video uses cool visual effects, like checklists above people’s head. It has pretty cool background music. All in all, it’s just plain delightful. We almost forget that someone’s trying to sell us something and get our hard-earned money. Or, at least, we don’t mind it so much.

The simple story of a guy planning a party told us the story of Flow - what it is, how it works, why someone would use it, and cool features it has. Without realizing it, we absorbed all of the messages that getflow.com was trying to get across. We were entertained, the guys at Flow taught us about their product, and now everyone’s happy, and all it took was a little bit of plot and a sprinkling of characters.

For those interested, the genius behind the video is Adam Lisagor (a.k.a. LonelySandwich),

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