How Storytelling Sold My Beat-up Mazda

How Storytelling Sold My Beat-up Mazda

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Storytelling is something I strongly believe in, and I’ve written about how it’s more than just a buzz word. Well, I recently put storytelling to the test and it didn’t disappoint me.

Mrs. G and I recently sold our car… a 2002 Mazda Protegé. It is… a working automobile. The car isn’t a hunk of junk or anything. The interior looks nice. It runs great. We took really good care of the engine, but it does have its fair share of dings, scratches, and rust. It’s not exactly the type of car that jumps out at you and says, “Look how awesome I am. You know you want to buy me.”

Avoiding the classic corporate video mistake

As a video producer, it should come as no surprise that I decided to create a video to help us sell the car. I started thinking about car videos I’ve seen in the past, and I decided right away I was going to go in a different direction.

Most sales videos for cars make the same mistake a lot of corporate videos do. They focus on facts and figures. Car videos list off things like the number of miles on it, horsepower, 0-60 times… heck… even how many cup holders are inside. Do you think any of the facts and figures about our beat-up Mazda Protegé would wow people into wanting to buy it? Me neither.

Video isn’t about the facts, ma’am

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It’s a good thing then that video isn’t about facts. It’s about emotion. Videos should tap into viewers’ emotions and storytelling is a great way to do it.

The goal I have for most of the videos we produce at T60 is simple. We want viewers to walk away from each video feeling good about the company featured in the story. We want them to feel confident in that company’s ability to do the job… whatever that job might be. However, in the case of the Protegé video, I decided to tug at heartstrings.

I’m not going to tell you the story here. You’re better off watching the finished video for yourself. The behind the scenes scoop on the story is that I’ve wanted a new car for years, and I had been plotting to get rid of the Protegé as soon as I could. Only… when the time finally came… I felt very sentimental about the car. That sentimental feeling is what inspired the whole video.

Storytelling is only the first step

Of course, producing the video is just the first step in the marketing process. The next thing I had to do was to promote it. Of course, I posted it to YouTube. Mrs. G and I used Facebook to send the video to all of our friends and family. and I posted it on Google+.

mazda cmo tweetI also targeted influencers. I sent a tweet to Mazda’s Chief Marketing Officer, Russell Wagner, but the one that ultimately made the difference was… our mechanic.

That’s right, I sent the video to our mechanic. It’s a good lesson in who influencers can be. They don’t have to be a bigwig. It would have been great if Russell Wagner had retweeted the link to my video, but our mechanic has influence as well. I figured he’s tied into the local automotive community. Why not tell him?

It was a smart move because guess who bought the car? He did. A week or two after I contacted him, he called me to see if it was still for sale. Turned out he wanted to buy a car for his girlfriend, so he shared the video with her… and that’s all it took. She was sold… and so was our car.

That’s the power of video. That’s the power of storytelling.

–Tony Gnau

Tony Gnau - T60 ProductionsTony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 17 Telly Awards for its work.

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t60productionsDanny Brown (@DannyBrown) Recent comment authors
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Danny Brown (@DannyBrown)
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I keep coming back to this post, as it’s the perfect example of what “real influence” is all about. Like you say, sure, the CMO of the actual company would be great; but the relevant, contextual influencer is the person that is in the buy cycle, and open to your message.

Great stuff, mate, and loved the video. New tagline for selling autos: “That little car has heart.”

Have a great weekend!