Everyone knows that gnawing feeling of really needing to find something, looking where it was last seen, not finding it, searching everywhere else, still not finding it, then searching everywhere again thinking it was overlooked, being wrong again, checking everywhere just one more time, not finding it, being chased down by your partner and force-fed a Xanax and falling into bed mumbling about where the precious might be? Right?
No? Yeah. Me, neither.
Recently, however, I did do a lot of pondering about the ideas of loss and redemption. I was at a storytelling event where regular-but-really-brave people stood up at a mic and shared five-minute personal stories. The night’s theme was “Lost and Found.”
The stories represented each individual’s take on the topic. One by one, each stood alone on a small stage, with no notes, telling tales of shortfalls and gains. What they shared was moving and funny and thoughtful.
The Moth, with its mission to “promote the art and craft of storytelling and to honor and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience,” hosted the evening (just one of many staged all over the country each month). Their mission has been the same since the organization’s 1977 founding – “True Stories, Told Live.”
In a way, that also describes the Shopper Moment.
Actually, there are several ways public storytelling is like great in-store interaction. Each is in the moment, open to interpretation, engaging, a bit risky and completely authentic. So in the interest of retail marketing research (and because I wanted to be new best friends with all of these folks), I asked some of the people at The Moth gathering what they thought made a story – and a storyteller – great.
Here’s what I learned that can be applied to Shopper Moment creation:
A good story is one that touches people in a meaningful way. The goal of the storyteller is to involve the audience and create opportunities for engagement. A really good story has a sense of truth and resonates with basic universal aspects of being human. It doesn’t have to be profound, but a good story should move the listener and make him or her ponder and relate.
A good story must have substance. Storytellers often talk about the “bones” of a story. This is the basic outline or its skeleton. If the skeletal structure is strong, chances the story will be as well. A story – or Shopper Moment – that has lots of pieces but no deep truth running through it doesn’t feel honest.
A good story needs conflict and resolution. Strong stories usually have a well-defined main character (like the shopper in the Shopper Moment) who encounters some kind of challenge. The action taken signifies personal growth and change and finally, some sort of redemption. It is the believable action moving the story from beginning to middle to end that keeps the audience (and the shopper) entranced.
A good story evokes vivid images. In storytelling and in Shopper Moment creation, we must see the visuals of our story. By seeing these images clearly, we create images for our listeners and shoppers. The audience may not see what we imagine, which is actually ideal, because we want them to develop their own mind-pictures they can relate to.
A good story is not “wimpy.” In The Storyteller's Guide by Bill Mooney and David Holt, many well known storytellers offer their views on what makes a story “wimpy.” Michael Parent says, “The difference between a good story and a wimpy story for me is the wimpy story gives too easy a solution.” Laura Simms remarks, “A wimpy story is one that points toward something very obvious, that doesn’t have resonance inside, that doesn’t provide an experience.” Jon Spelman adds, “To me, the strongest mark of a good story well-told is its sincerity. I think there is something about a wimpy story that is insincere; it’s unauthentic. It’s not true to the person who is telling it.” Replace “story” with “Moment” and the message to the marketer is clear.