The Power of Small Moment Stories in Your Marketing
It Was One of Those Days
Early in 2008 I had just had my second son and was a week into maternity leave when our computer presented me with an unwelcome baby gift: a complete shutdown. Eager to communicate with family and friends to share photos and early experiences (and needing to figure out if I had indeed lost everything on my hard drive), I repeatedly contacted Dell’s technical support team for assistance. The problem was that I kept having to have hang up when my son would inevitably wake up from his unbelievably short naps with primal screams every time we started to get anywhere toward fixing the problem.
The fourth time this happened, I was at the end of my rope (for many reasons) and the support technician said three words that gave me the lifeline I so needed. She said, “I can wait.” And in that moment, I knew everything would be fine. She was giving me something much bigger than helping me reload my operating system. Through her kindness and patience, she ensured Dell had found a loyal customer who you’d better believe bought their laptop nine years later when she started her own business.
What Is a Small Moment Story?
The passage above is what elementary schools everywhere now call ‘small moment stories.’ I learned about them through my kids, who shared this concept of writing brief but detailed personal narratives that highlight something memorable. Think of it as writing about the beauty of one sunset versus an entire vacation at the beach, or a photograph versus a video.
Case Studies vs. Small Moment Stories
Small moment stories can really make your company’s writing come to life in a different way than a full case study. The case study, whether it exists as a printed document, PDF, webpage, or video, is always a powerful tool. Marketing teams everywhere delight in getting a customer’s permission to tell a strong story that highlights how their product or service is achieving results in a real setting for real people. A small moment story can be considered a subset of a case study and is less about the details of the product, and more about the specific, positive impact on the person. These highly personal vignettes help establish the human connection, which is different from an organizational connection. But the beauty from a marketing standpoint is that the powerful impact of the story rolls up to the company at large, just in a subtler way.
How Marketing Organizations Can Tell Small Moment Stories
Telling small moment stories requires first that you have one-on-one relationships with some of your customers—a key part of a lot of marketing initiatives today. No doubt you can find customers eager to talk through focus groups, social media, your sales team, or even placements asking customers to submit their stories. Opening the communication channels with these folks will help you unearth the types of stories your audience will find interesting. Even though you’re dealing with just a moment in time, the impact is strong, understandable, and relatable. It’s a very memorable action or detail that is meaningful to both the person telling the story and the one who will ultimately be reading it.
Commercials and printed ads have always been about the small moments. Think of pharmaceutical placements promising their joint supplement can help you spend more time pushing a child on a swing, or how a cake made with the right sugar promotes frosting-smeared noses and lots of memorable giggles.
A few other examples: For a healthcare provider, a small moment story could be a patient’s family member having an interaction with a doctor or nurse that eased worry or helped them understand their loved one’s illness. Or it could be a patient’s story of how their care was handled. For a software company, it could be an instance when someone using their new application was able to complete a task faster or better and make it out the door on time (for once).
Sharing Your Customers’ Small Moment Stories
Small moments can be shared in the same ways as more traditional case studies: blog posts, social sharing, banner ads, web placements, etc. If you haven’t used this type of format before, start by talking to your customers to see how your company’s offering makes a difference in their lives. That’s the first step toward creating pieces that are easy and interesting to read and have a highly human angle. You’ll be well on your way toward subtly letting your audience know how a happy customer connected to your product or service in a relatable, or even profound way.
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