Category Archives: Emotions

How My Grandad Awoke My Passion For Storytelling And Video Making

To me, storytelling and video making are two of the strongest instruments in life, and thus in communication and marketing. Images alone are already eye catchers, but video is much more likely to be clicked and shared. Video, music and a good story are such a powerful combination. According to a recent article by Ginny Soskey on HobSpot “visual content works.” And further: “For example, in just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content — photos and videos — saw a 65% increase in engagement.” My passion for visuals, however, have an entirely emotional and personal reason. I’d done image movies with a professional film team before. But this is an entirely different story.opaoma

I really discovered video making in 2010. It was the year of my Grandad’s 85th birthday, and I was thinking about what to give him. He always was a very humble man. Grandad was born during World War I and survived World War II injured, unfortunately with his beloved brother gone missing. He had also survived the German Democratic Republic, where people were kept from freedom and their own opinions. Hence, every day in freedom was a gift to him. If you asked him, what he wanted, he’d answer: “I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything.”

We made a movie about his life

It was my genius husband, who came up with the idea of making a movie about his life, family and friends. Until then, we both had no experience with professional movie making, but I loved the idea instantly.

I started gathering photos from my Grandad and from family members. I asked my family to send us movies and greetings by video. Then we started cutting, steeling a bit from professional movies (after all, it was just for private use), even more cutting and adding music (obviously professional music, but it was all kept private), until we travelled to visit him already one week prior to his birthday. Since he was already very ill and sadly couldn’t leave the house anymore, we visited his friends and recorded their greetings and wishes as well. We secretly “stole” many of his photographs from his childhood and teenage years, photographed them with a professional camera, “photoshoped” them and incorporated them into the movie. We spent the days with him and the nights in front of our computer that we’d taken with us.

His gift was a remote control

On the day of his 85th birthday, we gave him his remote control, wrapped in gift paper. We had sneaked the CD with the movie on into his DVD player in advance. I still remember his puzzled look. We asked him to play it, and he pressed the button…

I have never seen my Grandad crying. When my Grandma passed away, who he had looked after for many years while she was ill, he was as brave as always. Only when he watched the movie in silence, tears were running down his cheeks. And us? His small family was sitting in front of the telly, watching the video, watching him, everyone sobbing and laughing in unison.

We turned our life and the world outside his little room into movies for him

Shortly after Christmas my Grandad fell over in his small apartment. He couldn’t get up by himself anymore. Hence, he agreed to move in with my auntie, who looked after him 24/7 and really devoted even more of her time to him, as she’d already done before. My husband and I drove up to East Germany to see him. We decided to leave our iPad with him, which we’d prepared with some entertainment apps, including his own movie. From time to time, we made new movies to share our life in Switzerland with Grandad, and to bring the outside world into his little room he was trapped in. We sent them via e-mail, so he could watch them on the iPad. All the technology was an entire new world for him, but he managed. He enjoyed the movies, and when we were speaking on the phone, no matter how much pain he suffered, he was as always good-humoured and cheered us up.

He also played his movie every single day according to my aunt. Several times. Until one day, he was too weak to eat, to speak, and to watch. He passed away, listening to the music of his movie, which had been the story of his life.

Confessions of a Marketer

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

How can I make him stand out more? Picture by Carlos Lopez-Barillas, 2013

Being a marketer isn’t easy. In fact, it’s a burden.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with Dorothe and Sabine in a nice café in Zurich. They are two of the co-authors of our book of short stories. We discussed our book and a couple of others subjects, we could further explore upon. We just bounced some ideas off, and I gave some unwanted lectures on promotions and brands. All in a sudden, Dorothe and Sabine made me realise, how much I live in marketing mode. I can’t help it, I turn everything into a business idea or a future brand. At least, they were amused…

In contrast, I left the café in deep thoughts: Should I go and see a therapist? Are there actually any therapists for addicted marketeers? Is there an “AM community” (Anonymous Marketers) anywhere out there? And then: Probably not. Should I found one? I could make it popular. Okay, where would I find my target group? I could do affiliate marketing with marketing associations, I could…. STOP!

Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!

Another story of my life is my marriage. Getting married wasn’t only about bringing our love to the next level of commitment. To me, it was also a question of “re-branding”. I mean, I was about to change my name!!!

So while my future husband was planning our wedding, I was planning my re-branding. (Sorry, Darling! For the audience: he’s subscribed to my blog.) For the wedding ceremony, he invited friends and family, while I had obviously plenty of industry leaders and influencers written down on the list, disguised as “friends and family”. (Weird and impolite: Mark Zuckerberg never showed up!) Afterwards, I also cut my hair short. Total new style. New name. New brand. Well, sort of.

I don’t buy by a brand’s name

As a marketer, I’m also not brand loyal. Shouldn’t I buy successful brands and – by doing so – show my recognition for other marketers that are doing a fantastic job? I can’t help it, I’m always skeptical. Despite the fact, that I am doing marketing within the scope of ethics and honesty myself, I trust my colleagues out there think the same. Just one brand disappointment, and we are caught out. It spreads within minutes on the web. Yet – I don’t buy by a brand’s name. I buy according to my inner price-value-algorithms or according to product comparisons. Both is very time-consuming and can be exhausting.

I wonder, which brand is going to hook me into its brand story? Will I then miraculously turn into a normal customer and citizen? Identify myself with brands, wanting to be like the people in their ads and not wasting time on my price-value-algorithms and comparisons? Simply trusting its promises?

Oh, life would be so easy!

P.S.: @Mark Zuckerberg: The wedding event was awesome. You really missed out on something special.

Once Upon a Time – Storytelling

Emotions are the key to your customers’ hearts and to selling. But why can you show ads on TV and print brochures with fantastic pictures, and still it isn’t enough to truly engage your customer? Some people can often remember brilliant ads, but not its brands or senders. This fact results from too short stories and missing inks to the (visualized) brand.

I find storytelling a really powerful instrument to evoke emotions in your target groups. Not only in conversations or presentations, but particularly in marketing. A story brings your brand to life. People will remember the sender better, because of the emotions they felt. Just watch how people wake up in a presentation, when you start: “Let me tell you a story…” These are magic words. Try it out.

I found a very good article about storytelling on the Dutch website frankwatching.com, where the author Lieuwe Ramaker gives some useful tips on how to tell a good story:

  • Use one or more characters the recipient can sympathize with. This can be a person, an animal or even an object. Consider not to choose the most obvious character.
  • Transfer your audience into the time and to the venue, where the story takes place.
  • There is often a conflict, which starts the action. The protagonist must overcome an obstacle.
  • Be clear about the plot: the story must lead somewhere, it must show development.
  • Stories often refer to universal themes like fear, pride, passion, happiness, love, etc.

Keep the story short and use short sentences as well as easy to understand words, to keep momentum. If you can visualize your story with a movie, you can obviously tell it in greater length and share it easily.

Now, enjoy this lovely example, Lieuwe Ramaker also refers to in his article: