As a business, it's easy to get caught up in all the messages that we are trying to push out to our respective audiences—the selling and telling of our own story—and forget some of the most basic yearnings humans have.
You already know the importance of telling your story.
But do you know how to make sure your story will lead to that “ah-ha” moment with your audience? Do you know how to make it rise above so-so storytelling and leave your audience touched, persuaded, or engaged?
At the heart of great storytelling are two things: identifying the right story, and telling it well.
We know that stories are what move the human heart. This has been true since the dawn of time, and is true for individuals as well as businesses. As humans, we are especially drawn to stories that feel true, authentic, and well-told. And when delivered with the power of music, motion, and imagery via video, a story’s impact is multiplied.
In today’s market, video marketing is an essential—and nothing works like a riveting patient story.
But not all patient video stories are created equally. Some feel flat, boring, too promotional or too predictable, while others depict a relatable experience and compel the viewer to feel connected to the organization.
Here are 8 ways to make sure your patient testimonial videos are getting watched and remembered.
1. Find a story that fits your strategy.
A story that doesn’t advance your brand is money wasted, so start by linking your story to a brand message. For example, if you want to position your organization as clinically superior, find a story of a difficult patient case that was solved successfully. Then, let the story reveal and let the viewer form his/her own conclusions.
2. Be authentic.
Viewers crave real stories—and are quick to spot things that have become too polished or corporate. Stay away from re-enactments and stock footage, tell the story as it actually happened, avoid overly promotional talk and most importantly, be sure to include the struggle.
3. Take time to truly understand the whole story before the interview.
Talk with the interviewee before the recording session so you can understand his or her story and think about how to draw it out during the on-camera interview. Ask for and review any articles, other videos, web content or press coverage that give you insights into the story. Then create your list of questions based on what you’ve learned.
4. Prep the interviewee.
Before the interview, let the subject know what to expect, like:
What the video is for.
Where it will be used.
Why you are interviewing them.
It’s normal to have multiple takes.
The interview will happen like a conversation, where we ask questions and you answer.
They shouldn’t plan to read or memorize anything beforehand.
What kinds of questions we’ll be asking.
Answer the question with a full sentence, and link to the question. So if we ask “What’s your favorite color?” You’ll reply “My favorite color is blue.”
On the day of the interview, give the subject time to get comfortable in front of the camera before diving in. Engage in some conversation that isn’t part of the interview to help release the tension. Set a tone of warmth and curiosity before you even begin the interview.
5. Build trust.
Telling someone’s story begins with trust—and that begins with attentive listening by an interviewer that is truly interested in the subject. Be awake to small insights or elements of the story that could be fleshed out with more questions, and don’t be afraid to dig deeper. The best elements of a story are rarely the first answers.
6. Hook your audience at the very beginning.
Begin your story with something that draws the viewer in within the first 30 seconds, so the viewer is compelled to stay with you—like this video.
7. Build a character.
Great stories aren’t driven by a chronological listing of events, but by developing a character. Humans have an insatiable appetite to look into the lives of other humans, so look for visual and verbal details that may not even be part of the story but reveal something about the person. Go beyond the story details themselves and ask what’s important to your interviewee, what his/her dreams and motivations are, and how this experience impacted him/her.
8. Capture b-roll and location shots that flesh out the story.
Shoot b-roll that supports the story line, and select the interview location with care. Whether it’s a professor in her classroom or a senior in the home they’ve always lived in, locations can help tell the story. Even if the viewers don’t realize the full impact of the location, your subject will and this could produce a better interview.
Wherever you shoot, make sure it’s quiet, has good lighting options, and is available before and after the shoot for set up and take down, as well as for the actual interview.
You already believe in the power of story. You’ve seen how it can sell, persuade, compel, inspire—even better than a well-crafted argument. But are your stories helping you build your business?
If not, here are some possible reasons—and tips on what you can do about it:
You aren't being strategic about what stories you tell
Maybe you have a great patient story, for example, but it’s for a service line that isn’t a current area of strategic focus. Or maybe you have a story for your employees that doesn’t reinforce your key strategies, vision, or values. Prudent use of marketing dollars requires a direct link between the stories you’re telling and your business goals.
To create stories that grow your business, create a table and list all your core messages and strategies—then beside each list a high-level story idea that directly links back to each. For example, if you want to convey your commitment to quality, look for an area in your organization where your quality is impressive.
Use this list to scout stories and to identify specific customers, employees, or events that fit your story idea. Maybe it’s the journey of an internal team to improve a process, or a client story about how the quality initiative impacted them.
Track progress on your table and do a year-end review to see what worked—and where you want to improve.
You don’t have a story scout
Before a story is told, it has to be found. Most companies don’t have a person devoted to this important excavational work—and, very often, people in the midst of a good story don’t even realize it is one. In health care, we see this all the time. This sacred interchange between patient and physician is just what the physician does. She does not see it as noteworthy. Someone with fresh eyes has to awaken this mindset in an organization, teach its teams how to recognize a good story, and provide a way to get it from the front lines to your storytellers.
Assign the task of “story scout” to one of your in-house marketing or communication professionals, and give them the goal of creating the plan (above) and reporting on its progress each month.
Make a list of possible story ideas and share them with your front-line people, to help them think like a story scout.
Make it easy to submit story ideas—and offer some small reward for ones that are published.
You aren’t using the right medium
Video is the most visually rich way to deliver a story. It takes the words from the page and brings them to life with motion, sound, and images—giving the viewer’s brain a rich experience. We know that the addition of motion alerts the human brain, and this is activated in video in ways that text and still images cannot compete with.
If budget is a concern, set aside some of your communication and marketing budget for video production—even if it means shifting resources from other good projects. Today’s consumer demands it.
Shop for a video package rather than a single video. You can save thousands of dollars by shooting several videos over a day or two—rather than doing them one at a time. Videographers often require a half-day or even one-day minimum for a shoot, and by batching projects you can save money.
You don’t have an expert storyteller
A story can be inherently good, but tell it poorly, and it will not do the work of conveying the message you want. Storytelling is an art that requires experts who have devoted their careers to it, so finding the right talent to do this is imperative. Not all writers are storytellers. Not all video editors are storytellers. A storyteller can use different tools, but good ones understand the arc of an effective story and know how to deliver it in their medium.
Identify talent within or outside of your organization. The best way to judge this is to see their work—if the story keeps your interest and produces the desired emotional response, it’s been done by a storyteller you can trust.
Engage them for one trial assignment, to see if their process and product works for you.
Have them do a pre-shoot phone interview with the person they’ll be interviewing on-camera, to be sure the story is solid.
Be clear on your goals, budget, and timeframe—before you start the job.
You aren’t getting the story to the right people
All too often, a video is produced and put up on your website—and it is left to chance whether the right people will see it. To get the most for your investment, look for ways to repurpose it. How many social media outlets can you use it on? Are there other areas of your website—like recruiting—that could use it? Are there events, staff meetings, or retreats for employees, board members, or customers where it could be shown? There are multiple tools and methods to help you with the digital promotion of a video, as well, so if you don’t have the expertise in-house to help with this, hire someone who does. It will pay off in increased traffic.
When your video story is done, don’t call the project done until you make and execute a plan to get it in front of the right people.
Make a list of every social media channel you have that you could post your video on.
Make a list of events where the video could be shown. Consider employee forums, departmental meetings, employee events, orientation, board meetings, and fund-raising events.
Review your website to see if the video can be used on multiple pages. For example, a video about quality could be on a recruiting page, an "about us" page, a quality page, and a home page.
Work with an expert—in-house or outside—who can help you create digital strategies to improve traffic to your videos.
Engaging physicians is vital—and an area of internal communication that is too often neglected. While health care professionals have a strong impulse to help others, daily work can sometimes make it easy to forget this. That's when engagement slumps, burnout happens and the drive for excellent quality and service wanes.
The antidote? Stories. Not just any stories, but stories that show how a peer is keeping the impulse to serve awake. Stories that remind people of their purpose at work.
Watch and see for yourself. Were you different at the end of this remarkable story?
Not anyone can pull off a successful multi-million-dollar marketing campaign, but having access to the biggest names in sports is a good place to start.
Over the years, Nike, Inc. has used many of the world’s top athletes in their campaigns, but for the Olympics, they altered their strategy. For the 2016 games in Rio, Nike released their “Unlimited” campaign—which was executed to perfection.
Their first video, “Unlimited Future,” pans to a room filled with babies in cribs sporting nametags like: Neymar Jr, Serena Williams, LeBron James, Mo Farah and Zhou Qi. Actor Bobby Cannavale walks in and begins a Rocky-esque speech about how life isn’t fair, you don’t get to choose the circumstances in which you’re born into, but how you can determine your future—a future of greatness.
The stage and thesis are set for the campaign, and the message is broad. The campaign features one athlete per video with themes like:
- Champions weren't born champions. They were born babies.
- Life isn’t about finding your limits. It’s about realizing you have none.
- Youth has no age limit.
- Limits are only limits if you let them be.
These cleverly play off everyone’s motivation for greatness and desire to succeed. It’s uplifting, inspiring, and energizing. While this message that could be delivered by Adidas or Under Armour and be received just the same, it was Nike that did it.
The Unlimited series of films inspires viewers to push beyond the limits of what the world says they can do—a move that parallels what Nike is doing themselves by evolving beyond their “Just Do It” tagline.
Nike tells us that greatness is something everyone is capable of, and whether we believe them is beside the point, because either way they’ve created a tether between greatness and their own brand.
Image Source: YouTube
Humans can’t resist a good story, which is why more and more companies realize the importance of investing in video storytelling.
But video itself can’t guarantee the story’s success. Here are three ways to improve the power of your customer or patient stories:
- Introduce tension. Good stories move through conflict to resolution. They tell how a person was transformed by your product or service.
- Make it personal. Unless you have Hollywood budgets for talent, real, true stories are more authentic than re-enactments. So show life as it is, without making it promotional or scripted.
- Show, don’t just tell. In this story, we show the patient living an active, vibrant life. These images powerfully underscore what the audio is communicating, and allow a glimpse into the person’s life that is compelling.
Interested in bringing the power of video storytelling to your business? Email us at TalkWithUs@CMBell.com, and we’ll help you find ways to engage your audience through this powerful medium.
Need ideas on how you can use video in your health care marketing and communications? Whether you want to sell, tell, inspire, persuade, announce, train or explain, video does it better than any other medium. Online video is the fastest-growing ad format and the medium of choice for consumers of all ages.
According to The Energy Project, the way we shape our workforce often works against our business goals. Humans, they say, have four core goals at work:
- Physical health
- Emotional happiness
- Mental focus
- Spiritual purpose
Attending to these creates some rather significant improvement in employee loyalty, life satisfaction, positive energy and engagement. Read that again if you missed it. These are what every employer wants more of.
And this is where you, the communicator, can help lead your organization to a better place. The messages you create can help connect your employees to purposes greater than themselves.
Southwest Airlines understands this, as you’ll see in this video. Grab your tissues and take some time to see how masterfully they help employees connect to their purpose.
We don’t really need a study to tell us this, do we? We know, ourselves, that when we align with a cause that we care about, we experience more energy.
So here’s our challenge for you today. How much of your time as a communicator is committed to keeping your employees energized by purpose?
We worked with this health system to bring to life the successes they’ve experienced—so employees, physicians and board members could see the collective results of their work on their strategic plan.
Getting your team aligned with your future goals means making sure they understand both where you’re going, and how far you’ve already progressed towards your goals. Delivering this message in video makes it easy to show at employee events and share online.
What successes could you talk about to help generate enthusiasm for your future?
“Once upon a time,” says the voice from our past, and our imagination swells.
From our earliest childhood, we remember stories—even before we knew how they would form our own souls.
Although media has changed, the elements of a good story remain constant. To create your brand stories, consider these seven archetypes that have characterized stories throughout human history:
Overcoming the Monster
From Beowulf to modern films like Avatar, this is the story of heroism, triumph over evil and courage.
Rags to Riches
Overcoming the odds fuels hope in all of us, explaining this story line’s historic hold on the human heart.
Think Iliad or Lord of the Rings for examples of humans seeking a goal—and overcoming obstacles on the way to victory.
Voyage and Return
Like the quest, the main character searches for something difficult to obtain and returns to tell the story.
The hardest ones to execute well, comedies allow us to laugh at our foibles and connect us to our common humanity.
Although more difficult to execute as a brand story, tragedy can inspire an audience to action (think “text messaging” PSAs).
A threat, an about-face, and the hero becomes something more despite adversity.
What human yearnings does your brand story tap into?
We chose each element of this maternity services video—the voice, the script, the visual look, the music, the animation effects and the custom baby photos shot by our partner, Tami Wilson—to depict the extra attentiveness our client brings to their patients.
Within the first few days of posting the video on their Facebook page, it had more than 2,000 views.
What ways have you used to incorporate videos and photos into your social media strategy to increase engagement?
People increasingly want to be entertained as part of their communication fare. While there’s a place for this, we caution companies about heading too far down this road unless entertainment is their core business.
This is particularly true in businesses and services that are seen as serious, dignified and honorable. When we look for a doctor, we don’t want him/her to treat our situation as light or humorous. Competence and humor can be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
While today’s consumer may crave entertaining messages, companies need to think twice before stepping into this realm. It’s possible that lots of clicks and shares of a humorous video can actually be a bad thing, telling the wrong story about your company.
So you have a new service. A new vision for the future. A new position you’d like to fill. Whatever your story, here’s a new way to deliver your message.
- Lead with a story that’s real and personal. Enter Estelle, above.
- Use a motion graphic video technique, which has no video footage—just sound and illustrations that are animated. It has all the rich visual elements of a video.
- The benefits of the service are all delivered in the story. It’s a little more subtle, but oh-so-persuasive.
Today we’re going to challenge you to think about new ways of connecting with your audience. Can you see using this kind of technique as a fresh way to deliver your message?