From “A PC in every household” to “empowering every person and organization on the planet to do more," the age-old Microsoft tale has hinged on improving lives through cutting-edge technology.
While the story has been told in many forms through the years, the seed of Microsoft's resolve remains unchanged and today, that story is more powerful than ever as it's told through the most compelling medium: its customers.
At Microsoft, our storytelling centers on customers that are doing great things (big and small) with our products and services, instead of the other way around. We call them "People of Action" and their authentic journeys are being shared by none other than the customer themselves. Here are four elements we always keep in mind to make our storytelling shine.
Tell Real Stories of Real People
We don't sugarcoat the stories. We don't over script, prop or style them. These stories are as raw as possible and are revealed in their most natural setting instead of a traditionally arranged environment. People are drawn to stories they can relate to and as audiences (potential and existing customers) get to know the main characters—their struggles and goals—they make an emotional connection with the authors and start to root for their success.
This storytelling technique keeps the audience interested and engaged throughout the narrative. It makes the authors likeable and relatable because it conveys inner thoughts.
Highlight the Journey More Than the Destination
A great story has a great theme. And a great theme gracefully jumps out of the narrative inviting the audience to interpret the allegory. As the plot unfolds and clues about the story are revealed, the audience is naturally foreshadowing what may come next.
There is nothing more exciting than seeing the characters evolve as they tell their own story of achievement. And it is important to note that we do not set any thresholds on what achievement might look like because we're celebrating how they got there (with our products and services) not how far we think they should go.
This method lures the audience as it immerses them into the narrative and now we have taken them beyond an emotional connection. We have made them part of the story.
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Spotlight Supporting Actors
Another impactful element of our storytelling is the character's supporters. We are sure to include those friends, families and communities who directly contribute to our People of Action success. Who are those key allies in this fantastic odyssey? How did they help the character thrive?
Including supporters helps reveal what inspires our customers and how our products and services are helping them get there. This is a story about hopes and dreams and adding those key players builds up memorable moments and weaves a rich tapestry of evidence around the central story. This is another way to creatively keep the audience deeply submerged within the story until the very end.
Keep a Consistent Brand Voice
Finally, we are sure to stay consistent in our brand voice, personality and purpose. While we are giving our customers a platform to share their own experiences, we do bring all these stories under one big idea: our mission.
In the end, all of these narrative elements come together to cement the Microsoft rhetoric in the minds and hearts of potential and existing customers. Everyone who hears these stories will walk away savoring the message that our products and services exist to empower them.
As you build your own brand's story, remember that it's all about the customer, their experience and how your organization is helping them achieve their goals.
Miri Rodriguez is a storyteller with Microsoft's IT Showcase after having served as the senior social media and communities lead for Microsoft Americas, where she managed three social care teams responding to thousands of customer inquiries via social channels in Global English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Connect with Miri: @MiriRod