Use Stories Every Time—Not Just Once Upon a Time

In 1944, two psychologists made a brief animated movie. Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel’s movie was part of a study entitled “An Experimental Study of Apparent Behavior,” and consisted of two triangles, a dot, and a box:

These inanimate objects moved around the screen and “interacted” with each other. When test subjects were asked to describe the actions of the triangles, dot, and box they explained what they saw in terms of a story.

“Oh, that one is a bully!”

“They’re fighting over the girl.”

“Oh no! The dot is trapped!”

Please understand, this simple animated black and white movie didn’t have music, didn’t have voices or sound effects—it was simply two triangles, a dot, and a box. Yet the only way to explain what the viewers were watching, each resorted to giving the objects personalities and telling a story!

“Results from a dozen prominent cognitive scientists and developmental psychologists have confirmed that human minds do rely on stories and on story architecture as the primary roadmap for understanding, making sense of, remembering our lives—as well as countless experiences and narratives along the way,” reports Kendall Haven, in his book Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story. He continues, “In our enlightened, literate, scientific, rational, advanced world, it is still story structure that lies at the core of human mental functioning.”

Stories are the most efficient and effective structural vehicles to use if you need to motivate, teach and communicate factual, conceptual, and tacit information (that’s stuff that has to do with attitudes, beliefs, values, and expectations).

For example, your product isn’t “just a desk lamp,” look at what Pixar did with their desk lamp!

Tell a story! Problem – Solution. A day in the life of… How it was before your product or service and how much better it is now. Here’s a Problem – Solution examle:

This is a brief animation we did for the National Safety Council for their campaign about “listening to your car”:

The takeaway is this: the next time your organization needs to provide employee orientation or training, or explain how your mousetrap is better than all other mousetraps, start with a story!

And don’t forget to let us help!

How Whiteboard-Style Explainer Videos are the Updated Version of a 40-year-old MLM Breakthrough!

Attention multi-level marketers:

Every single day multi-level marketers are asking the same tough questions:

• How do we communicate more in less time?
• Or: How do we communicate more, and not only make it stick, but also actionable?
• Or even tougher: How do we communicate more, and make it stick, actionable, and worthy of sharing—in less time?

Tough indeed.

The deficit of attention is killing your organization

You’ve already heard that America is suffering from a deficit of attention. In fact, the whole world has the same diagnosis.

Attention spans have measurably shrunken. In 2008, Lloyds TSB Insurance commissioned a shocking study that found our average attention span halved in a decade, from twelve minutes to five minutes.

Then, just this spring (2015), a study from Microsoft had researchers announcing that the average human attention span was just eight seconds! Think of it: twelve minutes to eight seconds in 15 years.

Don’t think for a minute that the direct sales, also known has the multi-level marketing industry, hasn’t been affected by the short attention span trend.

Direct Sales offices from Amway to Zurvita have been struggling with this phenomenon—and it’s not going away or getting better.

What should direct sales do? What does the future hold for multi-level marketing companies that are determined to grow?

A big part of the answer actually lies in the past

More than four decades ago, a young Don Failla started an MLM empire by reducing his entire “presentation” to being able to draw it on a simple plain paper napkin. It was simple, visual, memorable, and repeatable!

You’ve probably already used a napkin presentation and not known it:

Imagine you’re sitting in a booth at a diner with a close friend. She asks, “Hey, tell me about _________.” You say, “Well, it’s really very simple…” You reach over, grab a napkin from the holder, and start to draw. And you explain as you draw it out. After a short moment, your friend says, “Oh! I get it! That’s cool!”

Message transmitted, received, understood, and remembered!

If you took that simple, effective napkin presentation and gave it a 21st century twist, you’d have a whiteboard-style explainer video.

What are whiteboard explainer videos?

Instead of a napkin, we start with a blank whiteboard and tell your story with fun drawings and images along with sound effects, music, and a professional voiceover.

Generally speaking, Ydraw whiteboard videos grab and hold viewers’ attention by telling a story—usually about a company, product, or service. Viewers often relate to the character in the video, which results in imagining themselves in the character’s position, using the product or service.

In fact, nothing is more powerful than a whiteboard video to hold the attention of an audience ranging from school children to business executives. (Their attention spans being roughly equal.)

And that’s exactly why Ydraw videos work so well—they capture and hold attention long enough for your message to be transmitted, and even shared!

Whiteboard-style explainer videos are an updated version of the napkin presentation!

Whiteboard videos allow you to leverage the power of social media

And here’s the best part—they don’t have to be presented one-to-one like the old napkin presentation. Your Independent Business Owners can leverage the power of email, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and personal websites to share a whiteboard video about your opportunity, or a new product or benefit.

Living and working in Utah makes it difficult to ignore the presence of the Direct Sales or Multi-Level Marketing industry. After all, about a dozen of the top companies make Utah their headquarters. We’ve consulted with several of them and been allowed “behind the curtain” to learn their biggest worries.

See if these concerns sound familiar:

1. Recruiting
2. Sales prospecting
3. Retention
4. Product understanding
5. Leadership training

Here’s what we recommend:

1-Recruiting

Nothing is more approachable and non-threatening than a brief whiteboard explainer video. Tell a simple “before/after” “problem/solution” story. You don’t have to focus on the mechanics of your business, instead, focus on the benefits of your opportunity: more income, more time, more freedom, more control, and so on.

Your Independent Business Owner places the video in an email or on their website or social media site and invites prospects to view the video and contact them if they’d like to know more. You can see the benefits of having a brief, fun, concise introduction to your company. Remember, at this point, your presentation should be more about the viewer and how you understand and can help them—than about your company.

2-Sales prospecting

Most of the companies we’ve worked with have two approaches with sales—promoting the benefits of their business opportunity and inviting the prospect to benefit from being their own Independent Business Owner; or promoting the benefits of their products and inviting the prospect to purchase the products.

Imagine if every IBO had both approaches posted on their sites, and could email one or the other to prospects!

3-Retention

Retention is a toughy because your retention campaign starts on day one. Retention works best through relationships and frequent and relevant communication. We don’t recommend “canned” videos—instead, if you want to use video, make sure it’s fresh and up-to-date.

4-Product understanding

Imagine having an entire video library of each of your products and product benefits! Your friend talks about her struggle with weight loss, then send an email or log on with her to watch a brief video about your amazing weight loss products!

Dedicate each month to a different health issue and have a fun video explaining the issue and how to overcome that challenge. Something that’s easily sharable.

If your company isn’t focused on health supplements, you still get the idea of how to use whiteboard videos to promote what you do.

5-Leadership training

Training is another sweet spot for whiteboard explainer videos! The number one complaint from the field is lack of training! The number one complaint from headquarters is untrained representatives!

Training doesn’t have to be complex or drudgery—especially when it’s fun and bite-sized!

Imagine an explainer video library available to IBOs from their first day on. Each one in the problem/solution format and ending in a challenge to try a specific action. An email is sent each week from headquarters to every representative inviting them to focus on the technique of the week!

6-You already have an in-house video department?

That’s perfect! Then you already know how important a role video plays in communication today.

However, side-by-side, whiteboard explainer videos outperform “talking head” videos at every level. Whiteboard-style videos create viewer anticipation—viewers pay attention and stay engaged in order to guess what’s being drawn next. Whiteboard viewers stay engaged with the video longer than a “live” video, and have better recall on four out of five memory tests after the video.

Well-crafted whiteboard videos do take time and resources, but it’s possible to begin a production schedule that eventually delivers two or three a month—and that adds up to messages that are received, understood, remembered, and appreciated!

Thank you for reading How Whiteboard-Style Explainer Videos are the Updated Version of a 40-year-old MLM Breakthrough!

The Made to Stick Philosophy

The Made to Stick Philosophy

made to stick cover

 

Since I’ve started here at Ydraw we have put in place a simple Script Writing Formula that we like to call the The Made to Stick Formula. I’ve gotten familiar with the Made to Stick method, the formula that makes an idea remembered. It is categorized in 6 principles.

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible 
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

 

Each of these principles represents the methods to help stick your ideas in the heads of the consumers. Let’s look at each one individually.

Simple

What are the core elements of your message? There is a lot that goes into a company and a lot that goes into a product, but the audience doesn’t need all of that background knowledge. That’s the difficulty of having knowledge, thinking that everyone will be able to absorb what you know when they can’t. By adding too much information you can confuse the audience in what they are supposed to know. Find the core of your message and share that message with others. In doing so, you will motivate them to a decision.

Unexpected.

If there’s nothing to grab your audience, why would they remember your video? Try and pique the interest of your audience by introducing a mystery that they can’t wait to figure out. Humans like to think in patterns and to keep their attention all you need to do is break these patterns.

Concrete.

The easiest (and most quoted) example of this is Aesop’s fables of the concept of “sour grapes.” The Fox cannot reach some grapes and decides that they must be sour anyway. He wasn’t bitter over not getting what he wanted. But the term ‘sour grapes’ is a lot easier to say than ‘don’t be bitter from not getting what you want.’ Something becomes concrete when it can be described by the human senses.

Credible.

How do you look credible? Base your idea on authorities – experts, if you will. If you can’t do that you can use 5 other methods. An anti-authority (the dying smoker), Details of about your product, Statistics, Using the ‘Sinatra Test’ (“If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” – the one test case that proves what you can do) and Testable Credentials (allows consumers to test it themselves).

Emotional.

I’m not suggesting that you should make your audience cry or anything, I’m suggesting you get them to care. For people to take action, they have to care. To do that focus on the individual, as Stalin once pointed out, “a single death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic”.  Association also works well by associating between something the audience doesn’t care about and something they do.

Stories.

What really makes an idea stick? Tell it as a story. Stories can reflect oneself in the minds of the audience and can go a long way to enter the long-term memory storage of an individual. There are three major types of stories to look for. The challenge plot (underdog, rags to riches), the connection plot (developing relationships that bridge the gap), and the creativity plot (somebody making a mental breakthrough or solving a long standing issue).

When following these six principles, your ideas can stick better in the brain of your target audience. But let’s see it in action, here’s a video we did for Atlas, an IT service management company.

How well did this video accomplish the 6 principles of ‘Made to Stick’?

 

Let’s go through them.

Simple. Atlas is the choice for your IT service management.

Unexpected. Using a monster truck as a metaphor for being stuck without knowing what to do with your IT services is something out of the blue and no one saw it coming.

Concrete. “We are your IT service management contact.” That is a concrete promise to the consumer. By using Atlas they won’t need to go any further to get their IT service management needs met.

Credible. At 1:15 the video talks about costumer satisfaction and shows a graph to show how they are improving on that concept. In the next scene they go over the benefits of using Atlas, cooperation through get together sessions, using webinar training and choosing ways to save money while increasing the user experience.

Emotional. There were a lot of emotions that are felt in that video. Worry and frustration, because the truck was stuck in the mud. The relief when Atlas came along and helped them out of the mess. Finally, gratitude, when they chose a better path and Atlas filled their gas tank and cleaned up their truck.

Story. If I worked in IT service management, I would certainly remember this story of how Atlas came to the aid and helped an ITSM company out of the mud and back on the right track.
There are so many great ideas out there that are just waiting for a story to tell the world about how amazing they are and how that idea can improve the lives and companies around the world.

I hope this little Made To Stick formula will help you create your next script. If you need a video, reach out to us. We would love to help craft the perfect script for you company.

Hey by the way, if you want to check out how to write a script the Made to Stick way, check out this guide on writing a script.

Broken Chair, broken lives.

So, I broke my chair.

I’m not saying I broke my chair by doing something irresponsible or life threatening or trying to race down the parking lot or anything.

No.

I sneezed.

1sneezing

I sneezed and broke my mother-flipping chair. How does that happen? HOW?

Let me explain it as best I can. My desk is in the front, you might think I was the receptionist, but I’m not. Thankfully, for them at least, I would be a terrible secretary.

1angryreceptionist

“What paycheck?”

I was doing some writing (it is in my job description as ‘writer’) and I was wedged up to my desk nice and snug. I was sitting more towards the edge of my chair and typing out something as I was listening to some music on my Bose headphones.

1headphones

“Makin’ my way downtown, walkin’ fast, faces pass and I’m home bound!”

Without warning, I had a surprise sneeze. Not a super violent sneeze or anything, just a normal sneeze.

Immediately, I  heard a small pop. I thought the quick action had popped the lever out of its place. You know, the little lever on the side on the chair that makes it so the chair will either lean back to stay up straight.

So I didn’t really think anything of it. I do like my chair up straight so I tried to lean forward to put the lever back into place.

When I tried though, the lever was already in place and the chair was wobbling wildly.

I still had my headphones on at this point, so I took them off to maneuver easier without a cord wrapping around me. When I took off the headphones I could hear my coworkers calling out to me.

Coworker: “Are you okay, out there?”

Me: “Uh, yeah.”

Boss: “Did you fall over?”

Me: “No. I think I broke my chair.”

Coworker: “What? How?”

Me: “Um, I’m not sure.”

So I finally wheel back a little and realize how bad the wobbliness really was. It was obviously broken more than I thought it was.

I overturned the chair and found this.

brokenchair1

Yeah. I broke metal. METAL.

brokenchair2

Now sure, I’m a big fella, like a pretty big fella. I’m 6’2” and look like I’m about 250 to 260 pounds when in actuality I’m heavier. My shoulders are incredibly broad and if I really put my mind to it I probably could be some sort of heavy weight lifter. It’s not for me, but I could do it.

So now I’m in my new job and within the first month of being here I broke my chair, by sneezing.

About this time is when I try and merge this anecdote into some sort of marketing or video production “life lesson”, so I’ll give it a try.

Don’t be caught feeling comfortable in what you’re doing, whether it be video scripting, writing, animation, marketing, or creating; a sneeze might come along and force you to stand all day with a cardboard box propping up your keyboard so you can type.

Because you’ll look like a full-fledged moron standing next to a broken chair.

photo 4

Today’s Double Down Audience.

Today’s Double Down Audience.

cave-painting

What are cave paintings, essentially? A pretentious art show in the middle of a damp cave, that’s what. I can picture the artist was standing there next to the paintings in a Woolly Mammoth beret looking bored. At some point, there were probably caveman art critics who came along. “Oog no like use of space.”

The paintings ended up drawing notoriety and attention. The same is true with today’s online content.

Videos are made to attract attention and hopefully keep an audience long enough to motivate someone to action. That would be pretty easy to accomplish if today’s online viewers didn’t have the attention span of a toddler hopped up honey smacks and jolt cola.

1toddler

Sounds patronizing, I know, but that’s exactly what the audience has been reduced to. Recent studies show that online viewers have an attention span of 9 seconds. 9 seconds? I can’t even have a thought in 9 seconds, a hazy recollection maybe, but never a full thought.

Ask any six-second “star” of Vine to explain why anyone would subscribe to his or her channel. I’m sure they couldn’t tell you because, quite frankly, the phenomenon of Vine shouldn’t even exist. People shouldn’t have fans for a six-second joke that has been circulating within 5-6 different Vine user variations. It’s absurd.

Unfortunately, that’s the reality we now live in. As we devolve into human versions of Spongebob Squarepants we have to change the way we approach making video content. So now the job is to shake a pair of keys in front of the audience and have them on their backs, giggling and reaching for the shiny–shiny.

Again, sounds patronizing, but that’s the truth of it.

The ‘burger method‘ used to be taught for storytelling.

1hamburgermethod

The meat of the message is in between two carefully crafted intro and conclusion buns. Now, the art of the video is more like the KFC Double DownDouble-Downs

A chunk of meat, a bit of cheese, some tantalizing bacon and ends it all with another huge chunk of meat. It may not be very good for you, but it’s popular and people keep on buying it.

doubledowngross

This is the formula for a new age. A snack sized informational nugget to fill you up as quickly as possible. Seems kind of difficult, but there are ways to make it work.

Key things to remember with this new format:

get-to-the-point

  • GET TO THE POINT. Since videos are inherently getting shorter, your message should get to the audience quicker. The specific fight is to get your point out before the viewer clicks on the ‘Skip Ad’ button. This is the new marketing battle for many companies. First it was recordable TV– viewers could hit a button and skip the commercials, now it’s a small clickable banner in the bottom right corner of your video. How many seconds do you have? It takes 5 seconds for that button to get clicked. Spitting out your point or grabbing their attention in the first 5 seconds will do you well to get your message out there.

drop-off-2

  • EXPECT A DROF OFF. Unless the video you make has a very specific purpose, the most important part of your video will not be the end. The end is where most of your audience has already clicked away so they need to see who you are and what you do before that happens. 20% of the audience has already clicked away within the first 7 seconds, so make that time count. Those first seven seconds could make all the difference between a skipped video and a high retention rate.
  • A MOSTLY WATCHED VIDEO WILL USUALLY BE THE MOST YOU’LL GET. A mostly watched video on YouTube or post on Facebook, unless it’s a 6 second Vine, is probably the best result you can hope for. As you watch the numbers of where people click away, getting 75% retention on that video is actually amazing. Most videos don’t even last that long. The challenge is not only to get all the information you can in a small amount of time but to also front load the thing as much as possible. Basically, all videos have become the equivalent of children’s shows and the end is now usually saved for a kicker of some sort. Some off chance reward for making it through a video.

Now that you know the formula, the real challenge is getting your message out. The first 7 seconds could be right on point, but the second that video falters, it’s lights out. There is no room for fluff in the entire video. It’s all meat with a bit of cheese. Why am I so hungry all of a sudden? Is KFC still open?

lastdoubledown