The golden circle

It’s Mobile World Congress time again. And although this is probably my busiest work week of the year, I’m taking some time, again, to write a post about my experiences at Barcelona’s mega(lomaniac) telecom event.

Two years ago, I reported on the many executive storytellers, storydoers and storymakers that meet here each February to evangelize and promote their companies, products and services, and last year about all the demonstrators and exhibitors at el meu circ a Barcelona that systematically use too many acronyms, show too many implementation details, and push their products instead of listening to their customers.

Here’s a probably shocking message for all those enthusiastic, booth duty doing engineers,  marketers and sales guys: most visitors don’t care about your products! (except for your Chinese competitors of course, but these aren’t exactly the people you don’t want to share too much information with, or do you?)

If you started wondering what “the golden circle” has to do with this (no, it is neither an opium-producing area or an obscure oriental sect,) watch this famous TED talk in which UK born author Simon Sinek discusses how great leaders inspire action.

I strongly believe that the golden circle is a key to successful storytelling, and as a consequence to a successful product demonstration, and hopefully also to a successful business transaction

Sinek’s message is simple: “Always build your story from the inside out, starting with the WHY.” Initiate a conversation with your audience by talking about what keeps them awake at night. Give them a reason for taking the time to listen to your exposition and watch your demonstration.

golden_circle

What I witness here on the MWC exhibition floor, however, is that most vendors communicate about the solutions they sell by starting with the “WHAT.” They elaborate in detail about the many features and implementation details of their products, and then eventually (if they haven’t run out of time, or lost their client’s attention by then) work their way back to talk about “HOW” and “WHY” their stuff does what it does.

So, here’s the – IMHO – right order for conducting a conversation with your customers in spe. Tell them consecutively:

  1. WHY they should listen to you. Start a conversation about what matters most to them, help them understand their problem, and create an urgency in decision-making.
  2. HOW your product/service/solution contributes to solving their problem. Talk about the process improvements, the cost savings, the revenue opportunities it may bring.
  3. WHAT scenario or features you will show them during the demo, and what they can actually buy from you.

Simon Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” For similar reasons, most trade fair visitors don’t care about your products; they are looking for a solution to their problem or for opportunities to create new business.

More reading:

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El meu circ a Barcelona

So, I am once again at the Mobile World Congress. A huge technology circus. A high mass of telecom and information technology industries. And an event not to miss if you want to hear and see the latest and greatest on mobile networks, wireless devices, and software applications. In 2014 the event attracted more than 85,000 attendees, and more than 1,800 exhibitors, utilizing 98,000 net square meters of exhibition and business meeting space.

mwc15

A year ago, I wrote about the many storytellers, storydoers and storymakers that convene in Barcelona each year to evangelize and promote their companies, products and services. In today’s short blog post (I have other things to do this week than writing long epistels…) I will talk about my visit to some of the MWC booths, and about what the demonstrators and exhibitors had to tell. Or rather, how they told their stories to me. And I’m afraid that I can be bold and short about this. Still too much technobabble… Too many acronyms… Too many product details… Too many marketers pushing their stuff instead of listening to their customers.

For those who remember the 7 sins of the speaker, well, I am afraid have seen and heard all of them over here. Demo after demo. Time after time. And also the demo devil seems to have made the trip to Spain.

But on the other hand, I also felt privileged to discover some really exciting technology innovations, touch some brand new mobile devices and experience some mind-blowing applications. And I had the opportunity to meet quite a few interesting customers too.

It’s been a busy and hectic week for me at the Fira. Fortunately the Mobile World Congress circus comes only once a year to Barcelona. But it’s worth the long days and the sore feet. As a visitor, a speaker or a demonstrator.

About storytellers, storydoers and storymakers

I am currently attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. One of these global mega-events, where thought leaders, opinion makers and industry gurus (and also few humble marketers like me) come to tell their stories.

You can hear these corporate storytellers in the auditoria, watch them talk on one of the big screens in the halls and meet them on the exhibition floor.

mwc

Lately I came across a few articles about the need to complement storytelling by storydoing. The idea is simple and straight forward: great companies don’t just tell stories, but they also take action on them.

  • Storytellers are companies or individuals, that convey the story of their brand, business or product by telling that story. As I stated in earlier posts, storytelling is a powerful tool to engage audiences and create worth-of-mouth buzz.
  • Storydoers consciously work to convey their story through direct action. Storydoing companies put the narrative in action and use stories to drive product development and enhance their customers’ experience.

Storydoing should not be considered as a black-or-white alternative to storytelling. In fact, both practices go hand in hand. Storytelling is mainly driven by marketers, while every company employee can contribute to the doing. Recent research by storydoing.com suggests that storydoing companies are better performers, as they tend to spend less money on advertising and paid media, but rather invest in customer engagement and execution.

As a marketer in a fast-moving technology sector, I would tend to add a 3rd category to the ones above:

  • Storymakers are the real market innovators, entrepreneurs and changemakers. They build a whole new story for their product or their company, or even a completely new brand.

Only great personalities are able to combine the three roles above. The Mark Zuckerbergs, Elon Musks and Steve Jobs’s of this world. They not only have great ideas, but they also have the capabilities to execute them and engage their audience – and as such create or change an industry.

So, if you can be a storymaker, a storyteller and a storydoer; And if you can talk your walk, walk your talk, and walk your walk, then you’ll be a man my son… (free interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s “If”)

Some other articles about storytelling vs. storydoing: