How remarkable stories create great word of mouth

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Stories are amazing word of mouth tools. They’re natural ways for people to talk to one another, they’re memorable, and they’re everywhere. Every business has a story — whether it’s about their history, their culture, or their daily work. The problem: Too many companies try to tell them in stuffy press releases or marketing speak.

Here’s how three companies are doing it right:

1. Go long
2. Write a song
3. Share a manifesto

1. Go long

Every marketer will tell you to make your videos short — that you’re pushing your audience’s patience when you go past ten seconds (maybe even fewer). But good stories don’t always fit into 30-second ad spots. Sometimes you need 27 minutes and 52 seconds. Patagonia made a beautiful short film called “Worn Wear: A Film about the Stories We Wear.” It’s a documentary on quality featuring Patagonia’s founder and a bunch of amazing stories from the people who buy their stuff and use it forever. That sends a powerful message that their story is worth the time it takes to tell it — a word of mouth message in and of itself.

2. Write a song

GE is one of the first brands to come to mind when you think of stereotypically boring BtoBs doing exciting stuff. Their recent project is no different: A song sampling over 1,000 different jet-engine sounds. The story: GE records jet-engine sounds in their labs and warehouses to have sample audio for troubleshooting them in the field. They gave these recordings to a music producer to create a song called “Drop Science” and released it on SoundCloud, BitTorrent, and YouTube. With over 425,000 views on YouTube and over 1.7 million downloads of the song, that’s a lot of people who know more about what goes on behind the scenes at GE. (Bonus: Songs are great word of mouth tools, especially when they’re easy to download and share.)

3. Share a manifesto

Your customers are willing to talk about your message when it says something about themselves. They don’t share taglines — they share manifestos. That’s why Zumba (a business built on word of mouth) made motivational posters from their manifesto that say things like “You’re so damn happy, it’s contagious,” and shared all of them for downloading on their site. That’s a big advertising message from Zumba wrapped in the good feelings that come from being a part of something. How are you giving your customers a way to show they’re a part of your story?

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