I’ve written a lot about the power of a great story, and how they can sell products. Harley-Davidson customers don’t purchase motorcycles. They purchase the rebel lifestyle, the story that Harley tells. Statistics clearly show that the average Harley-Davidson buyer isn’t a bad-ass rebel. The average Harley buyer makes over $80,000 US and is in his mid-forties. Not the kind of profile that scares many people in dark alleys.
The closing ceremonies of the London Olympics told the story of British music, from the Beatles to One Direction, and the world bought in. Artists like The Who, George Michael, and Annie Lennox were seen around the world performing their hits. Sadly, one of England’s greatest storytellers was edited from the NBC broadcast of the ceremonies. Ray Davies, founding member of The Kinks, performed their classic song “Waterloo Sunset”, illustrating once again what a magnificent storyteller he is.
Today, I am proud to feature a guest post from VP Marketing at PTC, Tom Shoemaker, who offers these insights on the amazing storytelling abilities of Ray Davies and what marketers, particularly B2B marketers, can learn from his ability to tell a story.
Tell Great Stories: Lessons from Ray Davies and the Kinks
“Every day I look at the world from my window.”
With the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics behind us, it’s a good time to reflect on one of the world’s best storytellers: Ray Davies. With the Kinks, and on his own, Davies has created a rich repertoire of work that uses stories to chronicle the major (the plight of post-war England in the album Arthur, or the Decline of the British Empire), to the mundane (roast beef on Sunday with Autumn Almanac), to the everyday (fleeting and lasting celebrity with Celluloid Heroes).
Cited by many (Pete Townsend, The Jam, Van Halen, Blur, Oasis, The Smithereens) as a major influence throughout successive generations of rock, Ray Davies was featured in the pilot of VH1’s “Storytellers” series.
While not the most commercially successful band (owing in part to flawed management and being banned from the USA during their prime), the Kinks enjoy one of the most loyal followings in music. Fifty years after the band’s start, fervent fans opine about all things Kinks and write chronologies of the band’s entire recording and performing history. And, recently, other renowned storytellers, Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Brown, joined Ray on his 2011 collaborative collection, See My Friends.
One of the most poignant of Ray’s works, Waterloo Sunset, tells the story of Terry and Julie crossing the river Thames, as narrated by a distant observer. It remains today an evocative ballad to the chaos and comfort of London.
In business, Boeing, Cisco, and GE have embraced a similar storytelling technique.
Rachel Childers of Platform Magazine describes how Boeing’s brand journalism approach is geared to drive more traffic (e.g., customer, investors) to the Boeing brand through rich, interactive content spotlighting the ins and outs of airplane design and manufacturing.
Cicso’s Networked Life promotes network technology through “personal, real, and powerful” documentary-style videos of business owners, artists and students.
GE Works explores the impact of General Electric’s products, services, and philanthropy in numerous ways, including through an advanced Polyclinic located in London’s Olympic Village.
B2B marketers first sell to people, not business. Stories relate. You may not win the hearts, minds and wallets of everyone, but if you tell great stories, perhaps you can tap into that core group that will forever remain loyal. When you’ve done this, you’ve branded like a rock star.
“As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset, I am in paradise.” –Raymond Douglas Davies
You can learn to tell better stories and build better businesses right away when you order Brand Like A Rock Star in either Kindle or paperback right now. You won’t be let down. The book has received tremendous reviews and is endorsed by rock legends like Gene Simmons and Alice Cooper, two amazing storytellers and rock n roll brands.
For those who were screwed by NBC’s edit of Ray’s performance, here is “Waterloo Sunset” at the closing ceremonies.