Why we need to tell our wool stories differently
Everyone loves a good story. Stories captivate us. Stories can keep us at the edge of our seat, make us laugh out loud or provoke tears rolling down our cheeks. Stories can transmit knowledge from generation to generation. Hollywood and Bollywood are industry sectors entirely built on storytelling.
When it comes to wool we always say that wool has a great story to tell. And indeed it does. Many stories. The natural fibre story, the health and wellness story, the fire safety story, the animal welfare story, the fashion story, the environmental story, the craftsmanship story, the wool grower story, the cute sheep story and many more.
However, we are not always doing the best job in telling a compelling story to the consumer.
What makes a good story?
There are certain rules in storytelling which help us create a good story consumers will remember. If these rules are not applied properly, consumers will overlook and easily ignore our wool story. So what makes a good story?
There are many different well-tested structures but there is one that is very familiar to us. Storytelling expert Donald Miller from Storybrand summarises the story structure like this:
The hero of the story has a problem. The hero then meets a guide who gives him a plan and calls him to action. This action either leads to success or to failure.
Donald Miller gives the example of the Star Wars story: Luke Skywalker needs to fight against the evil empire. He also wants to know if he has the strength to be a Jedi. Luke meets Yoda, who becomes his guide by giving him confidence, a plan and training to fight against the evil empire. The story has a happy ending as Luke destroys the Death Star and saves the rebellion to fight another day.
We tend to make wool the hero of our stories
In the wool industry, we are so passionate about our fibre that we often make wool the hero of our stories. Look at some social media posts on Facebook or Twitter. Very often you will find posts along these lines: Wool is natural, renewable and biodegradable. Choose wool! We communicate wool as a wonderful hero. Although this post does sound a bit salesy and might not even be best placed on social media. But who should be the hero in the stories we tell if it is not wool? The answer is the consumer.
Consumers need to be the hero of our stories
Consumers, just like you and I, want to be the hero of our own stories. Every day we are looking for guides (in other words products) that can help us achieve our goals. Therefore the stories we need to tell instead is show how wool can help the consumer solve their problems with success. Wool’s properties are just the plan and tools we give our customers to solve their problems of staying warm, comfortable, safe, healthy etc.
Two storytelling examples – which story will you remember?
Here are two story examples to let you judge on your own which story is more compelling and memorable. Which of the two stories would you tell your friend tonight at the bar?
Story 1: Merino wool is ideal for healthy skin because it is breathable and has great moisture management properties.
Story 2: Little John of the age of 6 has been suffering from eczema all his life. His parents have tried all sorts of treatments and products on his skin without success. Despite all publicly available advice, John tried wearing very fine and soft merino wool next to his skin and within weeks his skin has recovered.
I think you will find it easier to remember story 2. With this second story, you will for sure win over another wool fan easily tonight.
Who is the hero of your company story?
Another good example is your company website. What story are you telling there? Are your company and your team the hero because you can do this and that well, you may be the self-proclaimed best at something and have achieved all these wonderful things? This story might impress your customers but will it convince them? I encourage you to take the view of your customer or potential customer visiting your website. What kind of story would your customer like to find? Could you tell the story of how you understand your customer’s struggles and issues and how he will benefit from working with you as you are there to help him achieve his goals?
Rewrite your stories for success
I encourage you to review the stories that you tell about your own company and about wool. Who is the hero of your stories? If the hero is your customer, you are a master of storytelling. If you and wool are the hero, I encourage you to rewrite your stories and you will see the benefits it will bring you.
Do you want to learn more about storytelling? Listen to the Podcast episode with Videographer Ari Kuchar about how he tells wool stories on camera.