Let me tell you a story about Anycompany: This forlorn business was a stuck in a monotone world, held fast by high-tech gadgets and cold, hard marketing. Its slogan read "real products for real people," but valued clientele and investors saw through the facade. They smelled the marketing gimmicks, scoffed at the uninspired product line and turned a deaf ear to the manufactured slogans. "I am not connecting!" Anycompany cried. "I want out of this matrix!" Along came a group of people dedicated to providing what computer wizardry and corporate governance alone cannot give. In a world that communicates in 20-second sound bites, this group teaches companies how to reconnect to clients and how to operate in real time. Now that Anycompany took the red pill of reality, so to speak, it draws in customers by the thousands with its rediscovered customer pull.
Drawn to the Flame
These ambassadors of humanity are none other than The Moth , a nonprofit storytelling organization founded in New York City in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green. The Moth began as a group of people in a living room looking for an alternative to mind-numbing cocktail conversation. It soon blossomed into a conglomeration of storytellers who put on sold-out shows featuring author Frank McCourt, comedian Margaret Cho and DMC of the musical group Run-DMC. In 2003, companies began coming to The Moth asking for inspiration, and MothShops , The Moth's corporate training arm, was founded. Design Continuum in Boston was its first client, and from there the phone kept ringing, with Disney ( DIS), Publicis' ( PUB) Saatchi & Saatchi and others on the line.
Tales for Sales
But why are companies seeking out storytellers? Lea Thau, executive and creative director at The Moth and founder of MothShops, says ignoring your mother's childhood advice not to tell tales can be the best thing for a company's creative edge. Primarily, Thau says, storytelling methods help companies gain clients' trust and grab their attention in a way that other methods can't. Telling a story forces the tellers to connect, face to face, with their subjects, who are often glossed over or treated more like statistics in typical client-company relationships. " Storytelling modifies this dynamic of seller and buyer to storyteller and listener. We can establish confidence with those that are listening," explains Thau. In an increasingly automated world, people are seeking the genuine and also look for that in a company, she says. "The more sophisticated communication gadgets we have and the more sophisticated marketing gets, the more important it is for us to get back to something that is real," says Thau. "If we rely on technology to provide the whole structure for us, then it all becomes monotone and nothing really stands out." To view Annika Mengisen's video take of today's Small Business segment, click here .