WHY DO WE TELL STORIES?

There is mystery about life and death , that is how we become storytellers.

That we will just vanish one day without a trace seems inexplicable.

From where do we come and where do we go are questions asked since the beginning of time.

There are no answers , it all seems meaningless, after all nothing matters, and to make sense of our existence we tell stories.

In our stories we create religion , we create God.

Nation is a collective story , there are no real boundaries.

Stories make us more secure in an insecure existence.

We create our villains and we create our heroes.

We create the story of what is good and what is bad.

We create stories of success and failures.

We create stories of bravery and valour and of cowardice and treachery

We are ready to live and die for our stories .

We connect with our stories .

Our fears ,our pains , our suffering, our desires our dreams are similar.

They are universal truths.

Below the layers , we are the same , our stories are similar.

We tell stories because that is what we are – Storytellers.

HOW BEING VULNERABLE CAN MAKE A BRAND MORE POWERFUL

A brand is like a living person.

It needs to be authentic to build trust.

No person can constantly be winning.

There will be days of struggle , days of failure.

There are moments of truth.

“Always good” is based on untruth.

Trust cannot be built on “Untruth”.

Can a brand be authentic and own up failure, say sorry ?.

Can a Organisational or Person brand share vulnerable moments ?

It’s difficult to be vulnerable. But it builds trust.

I experienced these both at Mastek where I headed Corporate Communications.

Mastek was the first company in the IT industry to give a profit warning ahead of quarterly results.

There was no precedent.

Obvious repercussions were bad press , investor calls .

Yet it emerged more powerful as a transparent and ethical brand.

The next story is of vulnerability.

Ashank Desai the Co Founder had an difficult early childhood.

There was his story of poverty and struggles.

Ashank has shared his story and lessons to inspire youngsters.

This has made him a strong person brand.

Being Vulnerable is strength.

Real heroes are authentic, they also fall.

Yet they get up and fight back.

Make your brand story more powerful.

Tell a authentic story. Be vulnerable.

WHEN EVERYONE IS SELLING , TELL A STORY

We get on any social media platform and we find it filled with Advertising.

Everyone seems to be selling something.

We are identified by various data points stored on us by the platform, maybe thousands , some even we may not be aware of.

The trail we leave behind on the digital world is monitored.

Algorithms try figure out what we are most likely to buy.

And the advertisements show up on our feeds.

This is interruption . We switch off.

We don’t come to social media to buy. We come because of our reasons.

It gets irritating, annoying at times .

Like a street Bazar with many stalls each of them tries to grab our attention.

Except we did not plan to come to a Bazar.

Grabbing Attention is critical , there are so many advertisements that throw up .

The algorithms and machine learning are always learning to read our minds.

“What are we most likely to buy” is the key question being asked by the platform.

This is their monetisation model . Nothing comes for free .

The term digital marketeers use is performance marketing. Digital Marketing that drives business and can be measured.

Interruption marketing has now moved from physical to digital world.

The conflict is consumers have a different reason to visit social media platforms .

They visit social media platforms to learn , to get entertained , to get information , to participate in connected communities , to build and be part of tribes.

With the smartphone in hand consumers set the agenda .

The control has moved from the advertisers and sellers to consumers.

Stories are consumed because they are entertaining, they inspire .

Humans are naturally wired to listen to stories, share stories.

Good stories are shared.

Video content is 80% of the traffic on digital.

Visual stories stand out .

Brands need to learn , stop selling and tell stories. Stop interrupting and focus on entertaining .

Because the control has shifted and consumers switch off from interruption.

Real stories well told , inspire, build trust, touch the heart.

Most important, when data is forgotten in minutes, stories are remembered over the years.

Future of marketing is Storytelling in the Digital world.

Every Brand has a story,

Every Organisation has a story ,

Every Cause has a story,

Every Startup has a story,

Every Leader has a story,

Every Employee has a story ,

Every Client has a story ,

Every Beneficiary has a story,

Every Tribe has a story,

Every culture has a story.

Dig deep an you will find each one of us has a story and our stories are common.

As humans our desires and fears are similar.

From ‘Here’ to ‘There’ is the most powerful story ever told.

Stories well told can inspire action , build tribes.

Stop selling, start storytelling.

In the Digital world we are the stories we tell.

Sanjay Mudnaney

Founder at http://www.CrowTales.in

Brand Storytellers

DROP YOUR AGENDA TO FULFIL YOUR AGENDA!

I have been reflecting on the subject ‘What is the concept of business and why does all commerce exist ?”.

If we look around most of the time of the human race in the world as we see today revolves around the idea of ‘Money’ .

‘Money’ is central to everything, things we can buy , things we can experience, status , power even health services we can access with money.

Either you are a seller or you are a buyer as an individual or as a collective called the organisation.

Employees sell their time and expertise to organisations , organisations sell services , expertise or products to the masses .

Central to every transaction is “Exchange’ and if we dig deeper there is the concept ‘Perceived Value’.

When you dig deeper there you find there is ‘Agenda’ . “Why do we do anything?” . Every human being at any given point has an agenda.

Why do you do a job , why do you run a business, why do your customers buy . There is an agenda .

The agenda is always about ‘Me’ , break it down people are interested in ‘Self’ . No one is interested in the ‘other’ .

This is an interesting contradiction, all the while when any exchange is happening there are two parties and there is an ‘Agenda’ .

Even every noble cause has an Agenda , religion also has an Agenda.

‘Getting’ and Giving’ are two sides of the agenda . And there is fair exchange.

Agenda of Individuals

1. Survive : pay the bills , stay healthy

2. Thrive : fulfil desires

3. Fame : Get recognised and liked

4. Belong : family , friends, community

5. Contribute : Individual talent that is valued in the world , make a difference

6. Spiritual : ( a false belief , those who truly understand would know the falsehood of ego at play ) Going Beyond self

Agenda of Organisations

1. Maximise Profits and returns for stakeholders ethically

2. Consistently Grow in a profitable way

3. Survive through difficult times

4. Solve a problem in the world

How is this useful ?

Whether it is individuals or organisations they have THEIR OWN AGENDAS.

Yet the interesting part is is to fulfil Your own Agenda , you need to fulfil the Agenda of others – whether individuals or organisations!

It is in this space that VALUE Exchange happens. The question individuals and organisations ask is

“What is the Agenda being fulfilled and what the value they get so what is the value they they are willing to pay for”

Naturally low the perceived value , lower the pay.

Perception is not just the quality and quantity of service and product delivered but a more complex equation of how it is seen in the mind . Perceptions are held in the mind . A label can decide the value . It has to do with emotions. The shoes may come from the same factory but add a label and Value jumps . It’s fulfilling an higher agenda of being seen and liked .

Money is nothing but an exchange measure of the perceived Value delivered .

Where things go wrong is when individuals and organisations focus on personal agendas . No one is interested in YOUR AGENDA.

Do you hear these statements

“I want to grow a million subscribers”

“This year we will make a record sale”

“I want to change the world”

No one is interested in your agenda . Full Stop .

The other place things go wrong is when there is safe play . Playing safe you become a commodity. And commodity will be replaced sooner or later with something or someone cheaper .

When organisations become ‘Me To’ and offer commodities the only way to survive is by offering the lowest price.

The way to Thrive with Your Agenda then is

1. Fulfil the agenda of others – solve a problem for clients , customers , employer , donor

2. Be valuable – Don’t follow the crowd , Stand out , be different, be rare , be authentic

WHY NONPROFITS NEED TO BECOME STORYTELLERS

A few years back while taking a morning walk in Pune city I saw a stray dog that had been hit by a car , he was in bad shape .

I could not walk away . I believe that within every human being there is good and there is a deep natural instinct to care and help those that are weaker than us or in pain.

This instinct is buried under our experiences of the material world and going beyond self does not look like a natural behaviour , it is not like the world of transactions we are used to , there is nothing to get in return.

I got my car , picked up that street dog and I drove around a few hours on a Sunday morning to find a animal shelter that would treat injured animals . I did not have to do that , I could have walked away, but I could not.

What I saw moved me to act , I saw pain , I saw innocence of life and I saw the helplessness. I was pulled in and now emotionally invested . I could not walk away.

And this is what every good story does , it pulls you in and gets you emotionally invested.

This is what movies do they take you into the fictional world of the characters , you laugh with them , you cry with them , you feel the struggle of the hero you are with him in the fight with the evil and you are emotionally invested in his victory over evil.

For nonprofits the way to the purse is through the heart and the way to the heart is through a well told story.

The digital world adds a dimension of reach and helps nonprofits spread the stories of good far and wide , stories get your volunteers and donors to get emotionally invested , feel the pain of the beneficiaries , join their struggles and rejoice in their success .

It is this very reason I started Heroes of India project , as a storyteller I wanted to tell stories of good because I know the power of a story to touch a lives , create change in our world and build movements. ( http://www.YouTube.Com/heroesofindia)

Every movement in human history started with a story and every change had a story to begin with . While we all are seeing the negative side of social media to cause distrust and spread fake news this very platform can be used to spread hope and good in our world.

The world needs stories of good and nonprofits need to become storytellers .

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject

BRAND + GOOD = CHANGE

The future of Brand communication is Storytelling for good in the digital world , stories that inspire change , stories that connect with the heart , stories that are passed on .

The world had changed long before the pandemic , it started with internet , networks could connect across the world , I found one school batch mate and then a few more and then most of them . We met again after 35 years ! This was magic , I could find my school St Xaviers batch of 81 Tribe thanks to the internet . We once again bonded and stories came alive , thanks to the internet.

But then one one more change had already happened and that was the launch of apple smart phone , it was a phone , it was a music pod , it was internet all rolled into one . Over time apps were built that allowed for social connections , that allowed tribes of a few to connect . The smart phone was the world literally in our hands.

When people connected , they shared stories , stories of their lives , they listened to stories , stories that made them laugh , stories that inspired them , people shared stories with their friends and their family members . Like a virus pandemic that we see now spreading across the world , stories spread , the word ‘Gone Viral’ was born.

Control Shift

A bigger shift was occurring in the marketing world . Interruption marketing as we knew it was losing it’s grip , mass media , mass media advertising was losing meaning as consumers could no longer be interrupted . They did not want to be interrupted and they had also lost trust in Brands. They had logged off mass media and switched to consuming content on the smart mobile device .

A bigger shift occurred when price of data fell , now there was no restriction on the quantum of content being consumed , more mobile phones , more data being consumed , this was gradually killing interruption marketing .

Shift to Video

No one would have imagined that anyone could own a personal broadcast network and that could be beamed across the world . So long as you had a single viewer that was sufficient. Long tail had arrived. Influencers arrived , they were the new media , they could influence decisions.

As networks improved along with fall in data prices video became the primary data consumption capturing 80% of the data traffic.

Now stories were being told on video and stories were being shared across platforms like YouTube, facebook , Instagram , Linkedin.

Brand Story

Brands saw the shift from mass media to digital , from advertising to entertainment and they started to shift . Brands were now telling stories to capture audience attention , they are entertaining , educating , informing , there is a shift .

Brand for Good

There was another challenge that was faced by Brands , Brand Trust was at an all time low and in the post COVID world this is even more true , consumers expect Brands to be compassionate , they need to move from selling to connecting . These are troubled times where consumers feel the need to be cared and supported . Brands that care are top of the mind of consumers.

Amongst the gloom and doom consumers are looking for stories of good , stories of hope . Brands need to connect with stories of good .

Time for Good Stories

As head of social responsibility and Co-Founder of Mastek Foundation, I could see that there was a gap between doing good , philanthropy and business purpose . Now they all come together . They are not different divisions . Thankfully I wore both the the hats , head of marketing communications and head of Corporate Social Responsibility. I saw this change early.

When I combined the idea of students working on projects to build IT solutions for social sector with mentoring from Mastek employees I found I was building a strong employer Brand Story.

The Future

The future of Brand communication is Storytelling for good in the digital world , stories that inspire change , stories that connect with the heart , stories that are passed on . These would be stories told through visual mediums. There are so many good stories to be told.

Brands exist for a purpose and it is time to tell those stories . Every Brand has its own broadcast channel , its time to put the switch the channel on.

I am now on a mission to connect Brands with Good through Storytelling on good in the digital world.

Sanjay Mudnaney

Founder http://www.crowtails.in

Founder http://www.brandforgood.in

BUILD YOUR TRIBE

One man or a woman can change the world , begin a movement , build a tribe . Begin Now !

You have an ‘idea’ , ‘product’ or a ’cause’ you are passionate about , ask the next question who is your tribe ? In the 1980’s Beatles created a different kind of counterculture music rooted in skiffle , beat and 1950’s rock and roll , their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop. The group revolutionised many aspects of music industry and were often publicised leaders of the era’s youth and sociocultural movement .

They changed the game and built their tribe , rather the tribe already existed , the youth who believed in counterculture , they provided the leadership to connect the tribe with different kind of music.

Facebook recently launched its Facebook shop to help small businesses to set up their digital stores and get found on social media . I had an idea on similar lines a few years back ,as a Co-Founder of a digital payments startup I built a social commerce platform on top of the digital payments solution , it was an end-to end solution from setting up a digital store to checkouts and digital payments . The idea was as simple as click-share-sell .

One of the first customers to the platform was Nainital Bikers , who as the name suggests was into bike rental business in Nainital a scenic tourist location . He had a big challenge of getting travellers to book his bikes and make the payment before they travelled , many times they would call and book the bike but then if they did not travel , he would end up making a loss of day in and rental revenue . He came to know of our service through a story we had shared on Facebook. Nainital Bikers was the representative of our tribe , small business owners across small towns of India who wanted to expand beyond their geography and were looking for an end to end solution to quickly put up their online store and get bookings and payments online . The tribe for the solution we were building was out there we had to reach them .

Know the persona of your tribe

One of my clients is in healthcare , I spent a lot of time initially meeting the existing customers , listening to their stories , understanding their pain point and more importantly observing things they said and also did not say . This is one of the qualities I learnt early in my career as a marketeer and it ‘Empathy’ , I would get into the shoes of my clients and feel their pain .I have been told I am highly anecdotal , I gather stories . I feel this is an important trait for anyone in marketing or for that matter in business , one needs to have the ability of keen observation and story listening.

Even if you are leading a cause you have your tribe , those that believe in your cause . PAWS is a small charity organisation run by Nilesh Bange, he runs his NGO with volunteers from campuses , he does this by reaching out to those who have soft corner for animals , similarly he has managed to get celebrities who care for animals associate with his cause . He does not have big budgets but he is very smart with identifying his tribe and connecting them with his cause.

Know who is not your tribe

One of the biggest mistakes businesses do is include everyone into their definition of tribe . Coming back to the example of the healthcare client it was clear that our tribe needed to be well educated as some of the concepts covered in the program that needed to be followed required deeper understanding of the principles, so we dropped those who did not meet the qualifier as our tribe. We would have wasted marketing effort on someone who would finally not pick up the service and if they did , would not be a satisfied clients.

For Nilesh who runs PAWS it would be wasted effort to try and enrol those who are passionate about the cause of environment or children education , he would rather focus on engaging his crowd of animal lovers.

Focus

Your business cannot be everything to everybody , it is highly inefficient , yet initially it seems difficult to say no and this can be one big mistake that gets you off track in building your tribe . Yet this is the most important thing to do , stay focused. The healthcare client I worked with did this thing brilliant right, they focused on the diabetes segment and worked on constant innovation and improvements in supporting lifestyle changes and medical support to patients , though the end result was also weight loss for many and that too is a big segment , the focus was never lost , it stayed sharply focused on diabetes. This allowed the team to master a narrow niche and carve out brand reputation as being experts .

Also the client had multiple programs aimed for the same segment this too was streamlined . What do you stand for and what you offer has to be a narrow focus. This also allows for sharper communication and targeting on social media.

There is a temptation to keep adding the list of services , this defuses the idea of a tribe. Also it does not help build sharp mastery of the subject.

Add value

In the passion economy your passion is the value you add and you need to be good at your game . If you are not adding value , you are not valuable. Your passion must add value to your tribe for you to build your tribe. The Doctor I work with in healthcare is passionate for getting patients off medicines by following a healthy lifestyle and he puts out a lot of valuable educational content free on his YouTube channel. Few of my friends are passionate life coaches who freely share knowledge that would help their tribe and they have been doing this for years . One of them has built a strong following on Linkedin, one of them who is in fitness has built good number of fans on Instagram.

From a sales perspective this could be seen as a funnel , starting with free offer , leading to small paid trial and then subscription or purchase .

How would this work for a cause ? There seems an imbalance between the giver an receiver as if the giver is on a higher pedestal , but if you connect with those who identify with your cause the engagement adds value to their soul. they want to be associated with the cause as it nurtures them . I have also found that volunteering for a cause develops leadership skills in people . If you ever face depression or anxiety one of the best ways to find perspective is to engage with those that are going through challenge , the experience can change you.

1000 Raving fans

There is another model one can work on and that is of 1000 raving fans. If you have been regularly adding value you could build 1000 raving fans , this is not an exact number but it gives you a order of magnitude . You don’t need millions of followers to succeed at what you do, it is fine to build a tribe of 1000 raving fans . This is a different way to build business , you need to work more deeply and add value to 1000 individuals. It is these 1000 fans who could subscribe to your service paying a substantial fees worth your time or become your core volunteers to spread your idea . But be sure these are fans who you engage and add deeper value.

Spiritual tribes understand this well , there is an inner circle , those that are close to the Guru , the students who believe it is their duty to spread the word .I had seen some employees in organisations I worked in give up their comfortable jobs and careers to support such spiritual tribes , they were completely convinced about the work and became champions for the teachings and adding tribe members.

Be Authentic

Your differentiator is you , if you are in a crowded market place where there are hundreds who offer the service you offer , you need to be authentic and find your niche . Don’t try to copy , build your style , do something that is different , that is you , that comes from your passion , find your unique niche . Don’t chase money , chase your passion , add value , be authentic , build your niche, money will follow.

One Man can change the world

So can a woman , a tribe is a movement , the movement could be getting people live a healthier lifestyle , listen to a different kind of music , run marathons after 60 , live an abundant life , drop materialism and simplify life with minimalism, become financially free with value investing , make everyday giving an habit , volunteer to teach , live their passion .

Don’t chase money add value to your tribe every day. You need to be persistent, tribes are not built overnight , you need to be out there consistently adding value , learning , improving , making a difference to your tribe.

Yes , one man or a woman can change the world , begin a movement , build a tribe . Begin Now !

#passionproject

Sanjay Mudnaney

#passionproject is an idea to share my over three decades of marketing experience and work with some of the most passionate business and social sector leaders to help ignite and passion in individuals , businesses , and causes. I believe in the idea that “you are the creator and creation is within you”.