How to Incorporate Story Into Your Marketing | Ep 170

A Compelling Story: Key to Great Marketing

The best kind of marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. Great marketing is interesting, informative, and inspirational. Great marketing invites you into a compelling story. A story is compelling when it sparks our curiosity, when there is a relatable and likeable hero who faces conflict and is victorious in the end. A likable hero who faces a painful struggle but experiences transformation as a direct result of that struggle.


Great stories and great marketing are a balancing act of tension and release or, in music, harmony and dissonance. The human mind can’t resist this combination. By incorporating a story into your marketing, you’re likely to attract and retain people’s attention for longer, and attracting and holding people’s attention in the noisy world of the internet is a challenge that we all face.


In this show, I want to share with you a video that Vince Hanvey, the owner of U.S. Music Lessons in San Diego, California, created. I think this video is a great example of how to use storytelling in your marketing.


The moment our brains realize a story is about to be told, we stop daydreaming and focus. The human mind can’t resist a good story.




Qualify Your Audience

Excerpt 1:

As a parent, one of the most satisfying feelings you can get is when your child experiences something that makes him smile, or feel good about themselves.


First of all, Vince qualifies his audience. He’s directing his message toward parents. He makes an agreeable, relatable statement that any parent can relate to. Vince is trying to form a connection with the listener. He’s trying to qualify the listener, “This is just for parents.”


Open a Story Loop

Excerpt 2:

I can remember my son’s first drum recital, and he was absolutely terrified. I literally had to pick him up and put him in the car to drive him down to the venue. Once we got there, though, he got up on stage, did his song, and he came back down. And he sat next to me and he looked at me and he said, “Dad, that was awesome. I can’t wait till the next one.”


A great little story. Just a few seconds long. Vince comes out and says, “I can remember my son’s first drummer recital.” He’s alerting our brains that he’s about to tell a story. The moment our brains realize a story is about to be told, we stop daydreaming and focus. The human mind can’t resist a good story. That first sentence opens up the story loop. “I remember my son’s first drum recital.” If Vince were to walk away from us right there at that point, we’d say, “What happened? What happened? You’ve got to close the story loop for us.” Even if the story isn’t that great, we want to hear the resolution. It’s creating too much tension for us. If a friend came up to you and said, “The craziest thing happened to me today…” and walked away, it would be torture. It’s like a song ending on the dominant chord. You can’t leave the listener hanging on the dominant seventh chord. You have to resolve it, you have to go to the tonic.



Hook the Audience by Creating a Tension

Sure enough, Vince delivers. He tells a story about his son who’s petrified to go to his drum recital. As I talked about in the intro of the show, he’s introducing pain to the story, creating tension for the hero. Who’s our hero? It’s his son. We all can relate to his son’s feelings of nervousness, feelings of fear, and the knots in his stomach. He doesn’t say this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his son was doubting whether he could pull this off. Perhaps his son was contemplating whether he wanted to play at the drum recital.


Donald Miller, in his book Building a Story Brand, talks about how every great story needs a flawed hero and a guide to help the hero get through their situation. In our case here, Vince’s son is the hero who’s flaw is his  fear to stand up in front of his community and be judged.  It’s an unfamiliar and frightening situation. Who’s the guide? Vince is the guide, helping his son get through the situation. At the end of this 15-second story, Vince’s son turns to him and says “I can’t wait to do that again”. Tension and release, pain and transformation. So this little 15-second story has done a good job of hopefully hooking the recipient of this video in, and they’re paying attention now.



Paint a Picture of The Future

Excerpt 3:

Or what about this? Imagine that it’s been a long day at work. Coming home, you go through the front door, and you can hear some piano playing going on in the living room, and you realize that your child is practicing. They’re not on their iPads. They’re not on their video game. They’re actually in there practicing. They’re playing is what they’re doing. And as adults, we know how important building those habits can be for our child later down the road in their own lives.


Vince does back-to-back stories. I think it is a very effective and impactful story nonetheless. It’s called future pacing because he’s painting a picture of the hero’s future. In this case, the hero’s not the child. The hero’s Vince, addressing what’s really a complex equation with music schools. Music schools have two customers; the parent and the child. The music school has to focus on making both happy. Story number one, the hero is the child, and in this story, the parent’s the hero. Vince does something very similar with the story that he did in the first story. He alerts our brains that he’s going to tell a story. He says, “Imagine this…” You can’t walk away at that point. He has to tell us the story that he wants us to imagine. Imagine you’re walking into your house and you hear music being played by your child. He’s painting a picture of a favorable outcome that perhaps the prospective customer hasn’t really fully thought through.



Tap Into Your Audiences’ Pain Points

I could see a parent hearing the story and thinking, “Oh, yeah. That would be amazing.” He brings a pain point here. He presents it in a positive. He says, “They’re not on their devices. They’re not on their phones. They’re playing music instead.”


If you want to tap into parents’ greatest challenges today, or one of their greatest pain points, talk about the cell phone, the devices, the screens, and social media—all the things that parents worry about.


I have a 17- and a 14-year-old, and we’re constantly dealing with social media. What they can and can’t do. What’s appropriate and what’s not. I much rather see my kid reading a book or playing an instrument, and when I see my children doing that, I feel a sense of pride. It makes me proud to know that they can have some balance in their lives because we all understand as parents or as adults how addictive social media and our cell phones can be. Some of us grownups even struggle with that.


Provide Parents With Insights on Music Lessons

Listen to what Vince sticks in there at the end. He says, “As adults, we know how important these habits. These habits in terms of self-discipline and in practice. We all know as adults how important these habits can be for later in life.” He’s putting a thought in a parent’s head that a parent maybe hasn’t fully thought about that yet. When the smartest thing you can do as a marketer is devoted more time thinking about how your music lessons help kids, think about it more than parents do.


Help your prospective customers and your current ones understand just how music is going to help their kids. Parents know that music has these benefits. They sign their kids up for music lessons because everybody else is doing it. That’s what good parents do, and they want their kids to reap the benefits of playing an instrument. Perhaps they haven’t really thought that much about it. Vince has these habits. His habits of self-discipline, practice, and perseverance. Your child’s struggling with a musical concept and being patient with his or herself to eventually conquer that challenge. These habits can help them later in life. That makes a lot of sense. I never thought about that before.



The Importance of Building Trust 

If Vince can successfully get a parent who’s watching this to think that thought, that parent’s likelihood to like and trust Vince has increased dramatically. Vince is putting himself in a position where somebody could watch this video and begin to form a feeling about him in terms of whether they like him, or whether they could potentially trust him or not. He could do this before they even talk to him on the phone. Look, any music school could tell the things that Vince is saying here and the stories that he’s telling. This applies to anyone who plays an instrument, but the fact that Vince is the one who’s telling the story gives him a competitive edge. Notice by the way that Vince hasn’t even talked about his music school yet. He hasn’t even mentioned it yet. My hunch is that his competitor, who has a promotional video, is not taking this approach. My hunch is they’re coming right out, and they’re banging on their chest and talking about how amazing their lessons are, how amazing their teachers are, boasting and bragging. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do and your marketing? Vince’s music lessons might be similar, just as good as the music school down the road. They might not even necessarily be better, but the fact that he’s telling the story and he’s making this connection with his audience gives him a real edge. Let’s see where Vince takes it from here.



Tear Down False Beliefs About Music Lessons

Excerpt 4:

By developing those habits, it doesn’t have to be a drag. From day one at U.S. Music Lesson, when your child takes lessons with us, our goal is to have them have a small success because we know that one small success leads to another success and another success until finally they’re walking up those steps to do their first recital as well.


Vince now moves into a new topic, and he starts it off with a pain point. “Music lessons don’t have to be a drag.” Every parent sighs at that moment and thinks to themselves, “Wait, are you telling me this thing that I did when I was a kid and that my spouse did and we both hated it, you’re telling me that this doesn’t have to be a drag? Aren’t music lessons a painful rite of passage? I would love for it not to be a drag.” Vince is tearing down false beliefs. A lot of parents had negative experiences, but the false belief is that music lessons are a drag. They don’t have to be a drag. Clearly, he’s setting himself up to explain why they’re not a drag or how his lessons aren’t a drag. This is important. He has to prove this, and he has to kind of prove it right now, right here in this video. He at least has to persuade a prospective customer that “Hey, maybe this Vince guy is right. His lessons really don’t sound like a drag. They sound pretty cool. They sound pretty fun.”



Paint a Picture of Success

Next, he says, “From day one, our goal is X.” Now he’s asserting his authority and expertise and confidence. He’s saying, “On day one, we’re going to deliver and we have a plan for your child, a goal for your child so that they have a successful experience from day one.” Well, what a huge relief. This is great news for a parent. The parent didn’t have a successful moment at the very first piano lesson. Then, he does something next. It’s very clever. He says something along the lines that one success leads to another success and to another success. So he’s building, right?


One success is building on and setting the stage for the next one. Then he says, “Until finally, your child’s walking up the steps to the stage to perform at the recital.” He brings back his initial story, but he’s creating an image of building success on top of each other, creating steps in our minds. Then, he literally says, “Now, imagine your child walking up the steps.” I think that’s just a great progression that he paints, and it’s great that he brings back the very first story about his son at his recital.



Use Customer Testimonials as Social Proof

The next section that Vince goes to I think is super important. He goes to customer testimonials.


Customer testimonials provide social proof that everything you’ve just claimed is real and that customers have experienced that.


Vince has claimed that he can help kids overcome their fear. He implied that the students at his school love the music lessons so much, that they fill their homes with beautiful sounds of music, and that they lived more balanced lives than their peers because they have an activity that they do that has nothing to do with electronics. It was good for a child’s emotions and mental and spiritual health. He’s also promised that they teach kids life skills, skills that they can use later in life. Now we know as musicians that music can make good and can deliver on those promises, but for the non-musicians, they may be a little bit uncertain. They’re certainly uncertain as to whether this music school can deliver. They’re probably feeling pretty good about Vince and his music school right now. But let’s see what happens with his testimonials. This is really where he can support his claims.



Choose Testimonials That Reflect Your Brand Promise

Excerpt 5:

My daughter Annie was inspired to play the drums after watching her big brother and his band perform on a real rock and roll stage. She has such an amazing time and she absolutely loves playing the drums. U.S. Music Lessons program inspires my children. It’s brought my son out of his cocoon. It gives them a new language to connect with other people around them. My daughter, she’s amazing drummer and our ping drum sticks and her music teacher is incredible and also brings such a personality out of her. I’m so grateful for this program, and I know your children will benefit from it.


Out of everything she just said, there are really only two things that really matter. She comes out and he introduces herself and talks about her kids play. I would have edited all that out, but she says “U.S. Music Lessons has helped my child come out of his cocoon or maybe come out of her cocoon and learn this new language to communicate in”. I mean, wow, that’s huge! I would have cut out everything before that and just come right down on that because that’s a really strong statement. Then later she says, I’m so grateful for U.S. Music Lessons. That wipes away any uncertainty that a prospective customer might be feeling at this point. Wow, this lady who sends her kids here is grateful for this place. She is awesome. She speaks directly to us, the listener, and says, “You know your kids are going to love it here.”


There is another testimonial in here that I’m not sharing today because I didn’t feel that it was as strong.


It’s so important that you choose testimonials that reflect your brand promise.


I think the other testimonials talking about how nice the teacher as well are nice. It’s kind of an assumption that the teaching staff is nice. It’s really a problem if a music school doesn’t have nice teaching staff. That’s not really directly speaking to appearance concerns, whereas this testimonial is.


Watch The Complete Video

Click here to watch the entire video for US Music Lessons

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