The Art of Storytelling

A couple weeks ago I attended an Intelligent.ly class lead by Adam Sigel of Aereo. We walked through the necessary elements of storytelling and how to do it for some of the projects we were currently working on. I’ll take you through the parts of his presentation.

Part 1: Product Video

One company who is fantastic at storytelling is Google. We started off the class with one of their product videos, Parisian Love.

There are two things that make this video so powerful. The first is empathy. You feel a connection to the people in the video. You begin to care about them and what happens to them. Being able to get this emotion out of the viewer is valuable for both customer and business owner. Takeaway: The secret to every business is understanding what other people think so you can make them feeling something.

The second thing is distress. Stories have challenges, problems, and things going wrong before they are fixed. It is there stories and these complications that really make you pay attention.

Part 2: Big Idea

The Big Idea is the underlying message of everything you are saying and delivering (even if you do not verbally say it). There are 3 parts that make up the Big Idea:

  1. Unique Perspective – you need to have an opinion on something.
  2. Set the Stakes – What will happen for the main character of the story? This part makes people care more and sets boundaries for the scope of the problem.
  3. One sentence – Take the unique perspective and stakes you are setting, and put it into one sentence.

Nancy Duarte speaks about the Big Idea pretty frequently. In her Harvard Business Review article, she said:

Spell out the big idea: Your primary filter should be what I call your big idea: the one key message you must communicate. Everything in your presentation should support that message. The big idea is what compels the people in the room to change their thinking or behavior — and that’s the whole reason you’re presenting to them in the first place. It’s shaped by your point of view and what’s at stake (that is, why the audience should embrace your perspective)

Part 3: Elements of Storytelling

I encourage you to look through the slides especially for this part. The slides use Star Wars as an example to really understand the different elements of storytelling.

First, we have the heroes & mentors. At first you may think businesses are the heroes, but customers are actually the heroes. Businesses are the mentors. Everything we as marketers do should be keeping this in mind and asking ourselves the question, “How can we help the hero/our customers?” It is important to solve for the customer.

Next, define the journey. In business, there will always be competition. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also shouldn’t be ignored. You will always have competition, and you simply have to address it.

Next, the call to adventure. Treat the first time a user uses your product or service as an exciting adventure. You can do this through a video, slogan, or other channels.

Next, enemies and allies. These are the other people you meet along the way. When you go on an adventure to use an app or service, there will be other people there competing for the service but also other people you can potentially partner with. Pretending you are the only business in an industry is just unrealistic. You need to be prepared for the research your prospects will do even before you enter into discussions with them. They will have information about you as well as some of your competitors.

Anticipate resistance. You have to win over your customers. They may not realize the benefit of your product or service. They may not even realize that they need it. It is your job to foresee that and plan how to overcome it.

Define the reward. This is where you make the promise for your product, service, or app. A reward is not necessarily what you will save. For some customers that will work, but other customers don’t care as much about that. People buy products and services for very different reasons.

Takeaway: Your product is the adventure that your users have been waiting for.

Recap

  1. All emotions boil down to pleasure and pain (Nancy Duarte). What pleasure can you create with your product? What pain can you avoid with your product?
  2. Big Idea = Point of View + “so what” all in one sentence
  3. Three things that drive people – autonomy, competence, and relatedness
  4. The best products are easy to use, social, and you know what’s happening.

Read the Slides!

For those who want to check out his slides from this presentation, they are below. I would really encourage you to do this as you will get a better sense of the takeaways by doing just that.

5 Things That Aren’t Intuitive or Necessary About iOS7

Whenever there is an Apple software update or a new phone coming out, it is all I can think about, talk about, dream about…you get the picture. So on Wednesday when they were releasing the new iOS7, it wasn’t even a question that I was going to download it as soon as I could. So I obsessively checked my software updates all morning until at 12:55 PM EST I saw I could update. Luckily within about a half hour I had the new software (I say luckily because most of my friends couldn’t download it until much later).

So I started playing around with it…seeing what was new, what was the same, and I noticed that a lot of the commands I had grown used to were a lot different. In fact, I couldn’t even figure out how to do a lot of things until I Googled it. It was surprising considering Apple is known for creating software and products that you can just figure out – it is engrained in our nature. Also, there were other parts that just are slower. For someone like me who is constantly multi-tasking and looking to get things done as quickly as possible, it was a bit disappointing. So here are some things that may help you as you learn the new iOS7 software.

#1 Closing Apps

We have all grown to love (or maybe just me) how easy it is to close apps to help your battery life. It is the same as deleting apps from your phone so it is easy. Well, I am a chronic app closer. I probably close my apps at least 10-15 times a day. So when I went to do that on iOS7, I was searching for the little x to close our the app, and it wasn’t there. So I tried touching the screens, holding them down (both which opened the apps), and I ended up needing to look up how to actually do it. Turns out, you have to swipe the screen shot of the apps toward the top of your phone screen.

Swiping Apps to Close

Swiping Apps to Close

P.S. This is my first plug for Yahoo Weather. More to come.

#2 Finding The Search Bar vs. The Notifications Bar

With the numbers of apps I have, I tend to constantly use the search box of the phone. But when I went to swipe toward the left, I couldn’t do that. So after playing around some more, I found that when I swiped down on the home screen, I was able to access it. However, there were times when I would swipe down and get the notification bar, and then there were times I would wipe down and get the search box. WHAT WAS GOING ON!?

So after some searching online, I found that if you swipe from the top of your phone down, you will get the notifications tab. I do like that it is now organized to show you calendar on one tab, all of your notifications on another, and missed notifications on a third. +1 Apple. Then when you touch anywhere else on the home screen and swipe down you can access the Search bar. Much more efficient, but still surprising that it wasn’t as obvious.

Home Screen:

Home Screen(Second Yahoo Weather plug above)

Search Bar:
Search Bar

Notifications Bar:

Notifications Bar

#3 Calendar App

I really love the calendar app. And I heard there was going to be updates and wasn’t so sure how I felt about that. Well, turns out, I’m not thrilled. I’ll get used to it, but I’m still not thrilled. The app is a bit difficult to navigate. Sure they now have the yearly, monthly, and daily view that is a more accessible, but the design and layout doesn’t seem as user friendly as it used to. For instance, I want as much space to be dedicated to showing me what’s on my calendar for the day. But the view of the week gets in the way. Oh well, I’ll manage. But some of the features are just not as user friendly as I was hoping. I will say though that I love that there is a whole tab of the notifications bar dedicated to the calendar.

Year View:

Year ViewMonth View:

Month ViewDay View:

Day View

#4 Zooming In & Out

I love flashy new features. Let’s admit it, they are exciting. But after having iOS7 for a few days, I just wish it would get to the command a bit faster.

For instance, when I unlock my phone, it takes a bit longer to do the fancy zoom feature. It reminds me of the PowerPoint animation where the words would fly in. Definitely a cool animation, but as we got older, we stopped using it because you just needed to get to the content of the presentation. The same goes for when you are opening an app. Cool zooming feature. When you close the app. Cool zoom out feature. Exciting the first few times, but after awhile, just not efficient.

Zooming

Zooming

Zooming

#5 Folders

There’s nothing I love more than organizing my apps into folders (it’s what you get when you have a Type A personality). I also liked when Apple limited the number of apps you could have in a folder. Because let’s be serious, you aren’t really using as many apps as you have. But now when apps are in folders it takes a bit longer to get to them.

First you have to open the folder (which takes a bit longer with the whole zooming thing).

Food Screen 1

Then you have to swipe to the right if the app isn’t on the first page.

Food Screen 2

Then you open the app (and the zooming commences).

It’s just a bit more work than necessary.

Yahoo Weather App Plug

Time to divert our attention for a second to an awesome app. After looking at this post, you may have seen the Yahoo Weather app on the home screen. This app completely took me by surprise and is actually the best weather app I have seen (and definitely in my top 10 favorite apps). Let’s look at the functionality…

First, easy to add locations and integration with other Yahoo products (which you see I don’t use), but definitely good to have.

Yahoo Weather App 1

Beautiful picture of Boston that shows what it is like when it is partly cloudy. When it’s rainy, there is a picture of Boston that is rainy. When it is sunny, there is a picture of Boston when it is sunny. And the pictures are never the same. Awesome.

Yahoo Weather App 2

Now of course the current weather, hourly weather, and weather for the week (available in 5 or 10 day increments).

Yahoo Weather App 3

Now some more details about the current weather, and what it will be like today and tonight. Then the map that shows the current weather (very helpful when it’s about to rain).

Yahoo Weather App 4

And finally information about rain, wind, pressure, and the sunrise & sunset. More awesome information.

Yahoo Weather App 5If you are not downloading the Yahoo Weather app now, let’s change that ;)

So back to iOS7, what other changes do you think aren’t intuitive or necessary?

10 Things You Are Going to Forget For Your Next Event

As I have worked on more and more events, I have realized there are a bunch of small things that anyone who does not regularly work on events will forget to do or not realize they have to do. Even for someone who works on events frequently, there are a bunch of things that may fall to the back of my mind. Over time, I have learned (somewhat the hard way) to make sure they do not slip through the cracks. But for all of you who are first-time event planners, let’s go over some things that you will be grateful you know before your next event.

1) Ask the printer to put your name badges in alphabetical order. You may think this is really silly, but imagine if you received hundreds of name badges that you pre-printed, and they were completely mixed up. It doesn’t matter if you alphabetized them before you sent them to the printer. You MUST ask for them to be that way when they are delivered.

2) Put signage everywhere – including the really obvious locations. As the event planner, you know your conference better than anyone. You know the short cuts to get from one room to the other. You could basically go from session to session in your sleep if you had to. But for most people, it may be the first time in a particular venue, and you need to put signage EVERYWHERE. That means on multiple floors, at the top and bottom of the escalators, near the elevators, and outside of doors. Do a walk through of the venue, and put signs along every path along the route. You may think it is overkill, and that means that you put the correct amount of signage.

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

Signage at HubSpot Event (Photo Credit: Zac Wolf)

3) Order giveaways weeks in advance to avoid rush charges. Events get expensive. We know that. So avoid paying extra fees as much as you can. Even though there may be more important things to think about then what giveaway you are going to give out, think about it as soon as possible because it takes a lot of time to order materials and personalize them. Leave yourself at least 3 weeks for basic giveaways, and even more time if they are a bit more unique (you never know what is only produced internationally!)

4) Get on people’s schedules as soon as you can. Everyone’s schedule books up fast. And not everyone can rearrange their schedule because of an event. Do you need your executives on the event? Book them first because executives often cannot rearrange their schedules last minute. Do you need assistance from other people in your company to setup or breakdown? Make sure you block off their schedules. Do you need to set up information sessions to inform your company about the event? Get on their calendars a few weeks in advance too!

5) Ask the hotel or venue if you can set up early and test EVERYTHING. Sometimes a venue will let you in early if they do not have another event blocked off the day/night before. Setting up the night before (or the day before if you are lucky) will allow you to fix a lot of mistakes that may not be fixable when your event starts. Test your presentations on the presentation screens before your event begins. If you have any custom fonts, make sure they are working on the venue screens. Test the wireless. Test the sound. Test anything you can think of!

6) Find out if there are charges for shipping what you need to the location and condense, if possible. Most venues have drayage fees that charge the event planners extra for shipping and/or storing supplies before the event. Find out what these fees are (they are often per pound), and figure out if you need to ship everything or if you can condense multiple boxes.

7) Get extra staff for registration, directions, timing, etc. It is always helpful to have more people helping out at your event than you expect. Plan carefully for registration as that is the attendees’ first impression of your event. Have a lot of people running registration to avoid long lines. In addition to your directional signage, have floaters helping people from session to session or even when they first walk in the door. Have people dedicated to making sure the speakers stay on time for their sessions.

8) Communicate the final agenda weeks in advance to attendees. Have your agenda ready to promote to attendees and potential attendees 2-3 months before your event. Not only will it allow you to promote to new attendees, but it will answer many questions from your current attendees. People who sign up for events want to know what they will get out of it and how to prove its value to their boss. The agenda will be your best tool to assist in this question.

9) Give the venue some personality – spice it up with your brand! A hotel or convention center can be somewhat bland before you bring in some aspects of your brand. Think past putting your logo all over the place, and think about your brand colors and personality. How can you bring your company’s culture to an event? How can you spice up a room to give your attendees a feel for your event?

HubSpot's Executive Playbook Event - San Francisco

HubSpot’s Executive Playbook Event – San Francisco

10) Create a project plan. The first thing you should do before beginning any work on an event is create a project plan. The plan should include every small detail you need to do from signing contracts to sending in name badges and printing signs. No matter how big or small the task, it should be on your project plan. Even better, you can use it for multiple events in the future.

What other details do people typically forget when planning events?

Catching Up On 2013

In the spirit of getting into more regular blogging on my blog, I did want to share what I have been working on during my hiatus! I am a regular blogger for the HubSpot Inbound Marketing blog and Social Media Examiner blog. Here are some of the posts I have been working on this year.

HubSpot Blog Posts

When Press Releases Do (and Don’t) Help Your Marketing

8 Unlikely Companies Successfully Newsjacking Super Bowl XLVII

The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Vine for Marketing

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Amplify Your Social Reach

9 Guaranteed Ways to Make Industry Events Worth Your While

How to Tell if That Industry Event Is Really Worth Your Money

How to Modernize an Old-School Event Marketing Strategy

101 Awesome Marketing Quotes, Revisited [SlideShare]

How to Transform Your Social Media Connections Into Real-Life Relationships

7 Trailblazing Brands That Won By Being First

Social Media Examiner Blog Posts

5 Ways Marketers Can Use Instagram

How to Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Marketing

How to Make Your Facebook Contests Stand Out

4 Ways to Maximize the Social Media Presence at Your Next Event

5 Ways Marketers Can Keep Updated on Facebook Changes

How to Improve Your Social Media Marketing Return on Investment

New Role

I am also excited to share with everyone that I have a new role at HubSpot: Marketing Associate, Brand Experiences. I have been working for the past few months on our external events presence including strategizing ways to promote the HubSpot brand at events and managing logistics for HubSpot’s presence at nationwide events including the Executive Playbook to Marketing and Sales Roadshow. Though I am still involved in planning for our annual INBOUND conference, I am excited to work on a multitude of events as we spread the HubSpot brand.

What other interesting content have you seen lately? Has your role changed over the last year?

SXSW 2013

I think it is every marketer’s dream to get to go to SXSW. I know I have been dreaming about it since college. And my dream came true this year!

SXSW was an incredible opportunity to see a much larger conference and figure out how they manage thousands of people. I was honestly surprised that it wasn’t the largest conference I have been to (Dreamforce has close to 100,000 attendees). But it was still an amazing experience.

A few highlights for me.

BLOGGER LOUNGE

Samsung sponsors a blogger’s lounge where bloggers or other people who want to get work done can come, sit down, and most importantly charge their devices. It isn’t huge – there are about 7-8 tables that fit 10-12 people each. But there are food and drinks, and it’s a comfortable space. There is also a daily web show that goes on, and they bring in influential people to interview. Some examples of those people: Tony Hsieh from Zappos, Brian Solis, and Shaq. Samsung also has an area where people can try out all of their devices (tablets & phones) and other promotional materials along the side.

Being within a few feet of Shaq was really cool too. ;)

Shaq at SXSW

Shaq at SXSW

Samsung Blogger Lounge

Samsung Blogger Lounge

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS

I attended four of the keynotes: Elon Musk, Al Gore, Dennis Crowley, and Michael Inman. The first three were interview style, and Michael spoke by himself. The format was 45 minutes of either interview or presentation and 15 minutes of Q&A. They asked the audience to submit questions via Twitter with the hashtag #AskMusk, #AskGore, #AskCrowley, #AskInman. I loved how well the Q&A portion was integrated with the audience. I’m also a bit of a Foursquare nut, as you may know if you read my blog, so I was excited to see Dennis. I hadn’t seen him speak in about 3-4 years so it was interesting to hear about the change from check-ins and mayorships to emphasizing the importance of data. Also, Michael Inman was the funniest, most engaging person I have ever seen speak.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Al Gore

Al Gore

Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley

Michael Inman

Michael Inman

AUTHOR’S ROOM

There was a small room (maybe 50-100 people) where author’s could give a 20 minute presentation on their book. There was also a small cafe in the room. Right outside the room was an area for them to sign books right after the presentation. Immediately to the right of that was a store where Wiley was selling books including HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing book!

Author's Room

Author’s Room

Book Signing Area

Book Signing Area

CHARGING STATIONS

There were charging stations EVERYWHERE – I LOVED it!. At parties, in the blogger’s lounge, in areas that sponsors took over, and even just at random places in the hall. In the picture below you see what looks like closed lockers. AT&T (the sponsor) would position someone at the lockers, and there were chargers inside. You could give them your phone, they would lock it up, and you could come back later to get it back. Or you could stand there for awhile as your phone charged. AMAZING!

Charging Stations

Charging Stations

TRADE SHOW

The trade show was a typical exhibition area. But there were a lot of companies who did some pretty cool things including Post-It!

Post-It

Post-It

There were also a ton of t-shirts given out, which I was a fan of ;)

T-shirt collage

T-shirt collage

MY FAVORITE PART: ALL THE PEOPLE

Putting aside all of the great sessions and parties that literally went all day long (from early in the morning to late at night), my favorite part was meeting all different kinds of people and also re-connecting with some other friends. It was a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and meet new people.

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

Two PRSSA friends, Amy Bishop & Harrison Kratz

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

With the founder of Weather Puppy (An app you MUST download)

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

Reconnecting with the RVIP Ladies I worked with at Dreamforce 2011

But the Angry Birds party was pretty cool :)

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Angry Birds Party Decoration

Was anyone else there this year? What did you think?

HubSpot’s INBOUND 2012 Conference

Wow time sure does fly when you are having fun! After publishing 1-2 times a month on this blog, it has been awhile since I have published a post. Definitely shame on me. But I’m back, and I’m here to tell you what I have been doing for the past year over the next couple of posts.

INBOUND 2012

This time last year I was gearing up for INBOUND 2012. I managed the logistics for the conference including sponsors, vendors, internal communication, registration, customer service, speaker coordination, budget, and reporting. We exceeding our goal of having 2,000 attendees and had 2,800 attendees with 60+ speakers from about 20 countries around the world. Our keynote speakers included David Meerman Scott, Rand Fishkin, Susan Cain, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

The conference kicked off with certification classes for HubSpot customers. They were able to get certified in top of the funnel and middle of the funnel practices. We certified about 150 people within the first day.

HubSpot certification class

HubSpot certification class

The following day, the conference officially kicked off with an exciting entrance by our co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Then they walked into the conference and welcomed the attendees.

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah's entrance

HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah’s entrance

Over the next 2 1/2 days, attendees had their choice of 60 breakout sessions within 6 tracks. They also had the chance to go to 5 keynote sessions.

David Meerman Scott

David Meerman Scott

Rand Fishkin

Rand Fishkin

Susan Cain

Susan Cain

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

There was also a special announcement of our latest product, HubSpot 3.

On Tuesday night, we also had a very special guest at INBOUND Rocks, Cyndi Lauper!

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

Cyndi Lauper at INBOUND Rocks

On Wednesday night, the last night of the conference, we had a few parties along Boylston Street with some of our sponsors. They were SXSW style so you could travel from party to party throughout the night.

Unlike other conferences, we had a pretty unique sponsorship exhibition area. Instead of having your typical booth setups, we gave our sponsors lounge areas with lounge furniture so they could have engaging conversations that did not come across as too promotional. We also had what we called the Prodigy Bar to allow customers to ask HubSpot consultants questions about the software.

HootSuite's Sponsorship Area

HootSuite’s Sponsorship Area

Another video of HootSuite's space

Another video of HootSuite’s space

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

Lounge areas in Sponsorship Hall

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

HubSpot Prodigy Bar

And finally, a recap of INBOUND 2012, so you can really get an idea of what the conference was like.

Was anyone there? What did you think?

5 Must-Have Apps

Last week I wrote a blog post for the HubSpot Marketing blog called 11 Apps Every Marketer Should Download. I always love writing posts about apps that help people with their jobs, but as I was writing that post, I couldn’t help but think of all the apps that I love but do not necessarily help me with my job. So here are 5 must-have apps that provide value outside of the workplace. (not including social media apps or any other productivity apps).

Songza

Everyone needs a playlist. Whether you are working, running, or relaxing, there is often a need to listen to some music. Songza takes this a step further than Pandora and Spotify by taking into account what day it is, what you may be doing, and chooses an appropriate playlist based on that.

So tonight for example, I am relaxing on a Saturday night after a long week and a busy weekend.

Step 1: It’s Saturday night. What are you doing?

Step 2: Based on what you are doing (relaxing at home), what genre do you want to listen to?

Step 3: Today’s Relaxing Hits? Okay. Pick a playlist.

This is awesome! Depending on the time of day and mood I am in, I always want to listen to different songs. During the work week, it recognizes that you may need an energy boost, may want to play music that is appropriate for the workplace (everyone has been there when your head phones don’t work for a second and everyone can hear your music), or you need music without lyrics to work to. Songza takes listening to music a step further to really pay attention to your mood and time of day. My personal favorite would probably be the “Drop-a-beat Workout” playlist when I work out in the mornings or after work.

HeyTell

Throughout the day, you are ALWAYS texting. But there are sometimes when you are driving and cannot text or just about to finish a project and do not want to take a time to stop what you are doing to send a text. That is where HeyTell comes in. HeyTell is basically a walkie talkie for your smart phone.

Simply hold down the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button, say whatever you need to say to the person you are sending the message to, let go of the “HOLD AND SPEAK” button and you message with be sent to another person. As soon as that person opens the apps, your message will be played aloud. It is simple, efficient, and easy to use. The picture above is someone sending else sending a message to me so as you can see, it appears in your phone just like other messages. If you tap the arrow to the right of my name, you can listen to past messages.

Dogsly

As a dog lover who is not quite at the point where I can buy my own dog, I use Dogsly to get my daily “fix.” Dogsly is basically Instagram for dogs. People post pictures of their dogs and share with others to see. There is an option to share pictures, “like” pictures, keep track of your own pictures, and even just look at your favorite pictures (as shown below).

This app targets dog lovers and has really garnered a lot of attention. After all, even Foursquare gives you the option to have cute puppies in its email communications!

360

When panoramic photography first came out, it was a big hit. The stand 3×5 or 4×6 pictures just didn’t do it for some people. But getting the longer view was valuable for people who wanted something more. Instead of piecing together 3 or 4 separate pictures, the camera automatically did it for you.

But here comes 360. 360 allows you to have a complete view of everything around you. The way the app works is you hit a record button, spin in a circle with your phone 2-3 times (to get the top, middle, and bottom shots), and then the app pieces your photos together. You can share the image on social media, email it to your friends, or just enjoy it on your phone. You can even use a gyroscope setting that allows you to move around in a circle after the picture has been taken so you really feel like you are in the place the picture was taken.

When I went hiking at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado, I used this app. To understand what I explained above, check out my picture here. You can click on the picture, and move left or right with your mouse to watch the picture spin.

Billr

At the end of a meal with a large group of people, everyone always scrambles to figure out how much he or she owes. Sometimes there is one person who will spend time splitting the bill with a pen and paper as everyone watches nervously to make sure they are not paying more than they ate or drank. I was usually the person who sat dividing up bills (which would take a good 5-10 minutes depending on the number of people at the table). But Billr does everything for you.

Step 1: Select the number of people at your table (up to 16 people which I did end up using a week ago). This time, let’s just use 3.

Step 2: Put in each item that the people at your table ate or drank.

Step 3: How much does everyone want to tip? Use the tax from your state (Boston, MA is 7%).

Step 4: See what everyone owes (down to the penny).

Step 5: Share the greatness of this app by texting or emailing your results!

And that’s that! What are the “must-have” apps that you use?