Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Great Corporate Storytelling at Microsoft

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Microsoft-Stories-1-600x370

 When I saw the Google news alert about an article on Microsoft’s great use of brand storytelling, I was immediately intrigued. As a long-time contract writer for Microsoft, I helped create the company’s intial collection of corporate stories, but that’s been a few years ago and I haven’t checked their website for months to see how the storytelling efforts have grown. Not only that, but I helped a colleague with a book on technology branding more than 20 years ago–before most consumers were familiar with technology products by brand.

When I checked out Arik Hanson’s blog discussion of the Microsoft Stories site, I was captivated even further by the screen shot included in the post (shown). As Arik points out, you’d expect to see the program manager being featured to be show in the office working on the development of great new software. But instead you see a dominant photo of the employee in a barrel room sipping wine. That drew me in even further because my husband and I have been part of a wine-making group for the past 11 years–and we live in Washington near the largest collection of tasting rooms in the state!

So you’ll understand why I agree with Arik that it’s a great example of corporate storytelling. Employees are brand evangelists, and they’re also interesting people whose non-work activities are at least as fascinating as their professional involvement. By helping co-workers and customers get to know the whole person, Microsoft is creating deeper, more lasting connections than work-related topics alone ever would.

Key point: When people develop deeper connections, they become more committed to one another’s success. Stories that help people get to know one another more fully result in a win for everyone involved.

How about you? How well are you telling corporate stories that do that?

Personal Values Trump B2B Brands

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

In Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, he describes his research that led to this conclusion: despite their protestations to the contrary, human beings make decisions based on emtion, then justify those decisions by developing a rationale after the fact. This process held true in a wide range of case studies that Ariely conducted involving insignificant decisions, such as choosing a beer or a dinner entree when out with friends, to more significant choices, such as buying a new car or selecting from an offering of business tools.

His findings are confirmed in a study conducted by the Corporate Executive Board in partnership with Google. Based on a survey of more than 3,000 B2B buyers, as well as 70 marketers and 15 academics, thought leaders and consultants in different industries, the research revealed that the power of brands’ “unique selling propositions” has greatly dimished. Instead, the ability to connect with customers through personal values makes all the difference in a company’s ability to grow and prosper.

In the summary statement reporting the results of the survey, the CEB and Google point out that 1) only 14% of B2B buyers see a valuable difference between brands’ business value”, and 2) personal value will provide 2x as much impact as business value will on a B2B purchase. In other words, connecting on a personal level enables a company to cut through the increasingly cluttered marketplace. To learn more of the data and the compelling reasons to emphasize emotion rather than features and benefits in your marketing, download the complete survey report, “From Promotion to Emotion.”

The bottom line is, as more and more businesses realize the necessity to connect emotionally with their customers, the use of values-based stories in marketing and sales will grow even more dramatically than it has in the past 10 years. As I’ve been teaching Corporate Storytelling clients for the past 21 years, stories are far more powerful than most people–and especially business leaders–realize. Among the many reasons are that they help us make sense of the world, they illuminate values, and they help people remember essential information, which sometimes means the difference between destruction and survival. Stories have always fulfilled a multitude of purposes. They do so by touching people’s hearts.

Burning Man Inspiring Recruitment Tool for Creative Culture

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Executives at Burning Man? At first glance that sounds like a headline from “The Onion.” But as “Fast Company” reports, a high-end business service provides direct flights to the week-long Black Rock, Nevada, event, where plush accommodations and fine dining await groups of executives seeking creative inspiration–and even the possibility of finding great recruits who will fit into their business cultures. If they’re as unconventional as the founders of Google and many other 21st Century organizations, that isn’t as far-fetched an idea as it may sound.

“Fast Company” reports that Google Co-founder Sergy Brin has explained, “Larry and I searched (for a leadership candidate) for over a year” before he and his co-founder, Larry Page, attended Burning Man, where they met Eric Schmidt, now the chairman of Google. Commenting that Schmidt is a great fit with their approach to business, Brin added, “More companies should look at cultural fit.”

He’s absolutely right. Too many companies have traditionally sold candidates on the benefits of their organization by telling stories that paint an unrealistic picture of the type of person they want. The importance of identifying the personality traits and behavior styles that truly will fit into the organization is often overlooked. It’s an oversight that can be very costly, particularly in terms of low productivity and high employee turnover.

What does your company–or any you know–include unorthodox practices as part of its recruiting efforts? We’d like to hear how creative thinkers like the founders of Google find the people who fit well into their cultures. Share your stories with us!