Warby Parker in 100 Words
Once upon a time, a young man left his glasses on an airplane. He tried to buy new glasses. But new glasses were expensive. “Why is it so hard to buy stylish glasses without spending a fortune on them?” he wondered. He returned to school and told his friends. “We should start a company to sell amazing glasses for non-insane prices,” said one. “We should make shopping for glasses fun,” said another. “We should distribute a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair sold,” said a third. Eureka! Warby Parker was born.
There it was. An actual, rare story. The day the young man left his glasses on an airplane and faced the cold, hard, soul-crushing reality of the cost of eyewear was the moment Warby Parker’s cofounder said to himself, “There has to be a better way!”
If you have ever had that same realization, that same moment when you realized the way things have always been done is not the best way, you could have the beginning of a founder story.
Result: Increased their affinity among customers
2. Extra Gum
In 2015, Extra launched a two-minute video about a boy and a girl, Juan and Sarah, but the names didn’t really matter. The gum didn’t even really matter. What mattered was the story...Not really thinking about it, I pressed play and was immediately transported into Juan and Sarah’s world. Two minutes later, I had tears streaming down my cheeks and sniffed uncontrollably.
That thing that Extra, if it wanted to affect net-positive sales, had to connect to your emotions in order to interrupt your unconscious purchasing habits. So how do you emotionally connect people to gum? You tell them a story. The story of Juan and Sarah. And you subtly drop your product into the story. A piece of gum shared at the beginning and—oh, I forgot to mention it, because I barely noticed it—all of the sketches in that final scene are drawn on the inside of Extra foil wrappers. Yes, gum is there. But the story is about so much more. When you tell a story, it always is.
Result: The two-minute video has been viewed over one hundred million times, and more importantly, Extra reversed their declining sales.
I had the honor of working with the exceptional team at Workiva to help bring their true value to life through stories, and the stories they found were as remarkable as the product they sold. One story was designed to illustrate the value of a particular feature of their product that guaranteed data consistency in critical documents, something that, prior to Workiva, was only possible via endless hours of manual checking and rechecking. The accountants hated the process because it sucked the life out of them and basically meant they had to sacrifice all nonwork passions and commitments. The companies hated it because they had no choice but to pay for hours and hours and hours of backtracking and double-checking that really should have only taken a fraction of the time and cost a fraction of the payroll.
Again, the Workiva solution seemed like a no-brainer. And yet logic wasn’t getting the job done. So, instead, they learned to tell a story. It was the story of an investor relations customer who, not willing to let middle-age damn him to a dad bod for eternity, decided to focus on fitness. And not just any fitness. Being a goal-driven man, he set his eyes on a triathlon.
The man begins training, but quickly realizes that late nights and early mornings at the office are getting in the way. Unfortunately, he can’t retrieve those hours, either, because he needs the extra time to ensure financial reports were accurate and consistent across teams. Without an automated process, he was chained to his spreadsheets and the old, manual way of doing things. Of course, that is, until he found Workiva. In a classic “turn your feature into a benefit” message, Workiva told a story that showed its solution as helping the customer achieve something more than what was tangible. The investor relations executive got his life and his goals back. And he significantly improved his company’s reporting mechanisms in the process.
Result: The story turned a bullet point in a sales deck into an emotional moment in the customer journey.