popular

Telling A Story Is Better Than Talking About How You're Telling A Story...

And, telling a story about your _________ [insert name, brand, product, whatever here] by telling a story about someone else's _________ [insert name, brand, product, whatever here] is a compelling way to expand your demographic. 

For example, my friend Joel Davis recently started a coffee company called Commune + Co in Tampa, Florida.  Joel loves coffee. In fact, I sent him an email asking him questions about how to become a better coffee snob last week (he hasn't responded though - maybe he wants all the snobbery for himself). C+C has one video on their website, and it's not about coffee, it's about pasta. But it's not about pasta, it's about dinner. But it's not about dinner, it's about community. 

Before I watched the video, I expected to see footage about Ethiopian coffee blends, local roasters or storefront passersby. But not everyone loves coffee. Or pasta, for that matter. Or the Pinot Noir on the table, but we all long for community. What they captured was a story about more than a coffee company. It was a story about people. C+C acted as a substory to a greater narrative while simultaneously becoming a largely more compelling startup. 

I'm not saying Joel did that on purpose as some sort of marketing strategy. Really it just struck me as fascinating that I learned more about making pasta than coffee from a coffee company, and I think it's excellent storytelling. Not all things are manipulative tools for increasing numbers, nor should good marketing always be considered manipulative. If you've followed Joel or his band elsewhere, you know that they work excellently, and it makes sense to me that this work would be no different. Joel really loves coffee, but he really loves people more. 

Back to the post title. The other reason I think it's amazing is because C+C's video isn't about how it's not about C+C. It's just them living the mission. In their own words: Commune + Co. exists because the best things in life are shared - a cup of coffee, a meal, a conversation. And instead of them telling you how to do that, or the statistics on how many people actually do that, or the statistics on how many people do that in various ways, they just do it. 

I used to want to explain everything. 

I still want to, sometimes, and sometimes it's appropriate, but more recently, I find myself wanting to hear the story, rather than hearing about the story. There is a difference. I love getting lost in the narrative. One of the issues that I have with a lot of the poetry that I see coming out is that I can't lose myself in the stats, or the rants, or the politics. I get that so much of slam or spoken word is a form of activism attempting to open the audience's eyes to the true state of whatever culture the performer finds himself in. I just think that people would be more moved to action if they were able to enter into a story instead of counting numbers. I can hear that, for example, when I listen to Buddy Wakefield's Live At The Typer Cannon Grand. I think it's what sets him apart from so many others. 

Truth exists within a narrative.

So you want to talk about the marginalized? Tell us about it as one. You think rich white people are what's wrong with the world? Tell me your story of oppression. 

I'm not saying data isn't compelling, I'm just saying that I believe it to be more advantageous, and often humbling, for us, as artists or companies or regular ol' people, to invite others into a story they can sympathize with - even participate in. 

Tell me a story. Tell me a good story. I get that clarification can add value to your goal, but lets get lost in the film reel before we get to the director's commentary.