It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when the trees go up, the lights are twinkling and kids are shaking the presents under the tree, desperate to know what’s inside. Christmas means something different and special to every one of us, and it’s because of the relationships we build that every Christmas celebration is so unique and wonderful. But how do you build these relationships with prospects and help turn them into clients? Simple, with brand storytelling and good relationship building. Let’s take John Lewis, the kings of Christmas, for example.
What’s Great About The John Lewis Adverts – Storytelling
Since 2007, Year on year, John Lewis have been renowned for bringing us a heart-warming and adorable Christmas advert. It’s been something a lot of people now look forward to, and for many, marks the beginning of the Christmas season. But why?
Well, for a start they purposefully avoid images of excessive consumerism, which is what we expect at this time of year. Instead they focus on stories, creating narratives that viewers can become invested in. They tested out a few ideas form 2007-2010, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they fully embraced the full-blown narrative approach to advertising, with almost Spielberg-scale schmaltz. That year, their sales role 9.3% compared to the previous year. In the years that followed we’ve had the bear and the hare, Monty the Penguin, the Man on the Moon and Buster the Dog, all of whom buried their way into our hearts and keep the name ‘John Lewis’ in our consciousness. It appears that we can’t wait to find out what each years advert will be, and as soon as it’s released, social media goes into meltdown for the new story.
John Lewis found the perfect combination of brand values, storytelling and music to create perfect sales. Instead of trying to sell us everything they stock, they remind us of what it’s like to be a kid at Christmas by rekindling the emotions we felt when we were young. The themes of family, sharing and wonderment offer an authentic message we can connect and believe with. It’s advertising at it’s very best. John Lewis think so as their budget for advertising this Christmas will be in the region of £6m and they claim that since 2012 their Christmas sales have increased by more than 35 per cent due to the Christmas Adverts.
But People Caught On…
As with everything that’s even mildly successful, people caught on and started to try it out for themselves. This year in particular the heart-warming storytelling of John Lewis and this years Buster the dog are facing some heavy competition. From Boots celebrating working women over Christmas with this narrative driven promotion to Morrisons ‘makes it Christmas’ campaign, which shows a happy family together at Christmas, enjoying food – a homely image we all try to mimic at this time of year. For M&S, Mrs Claus helps Santa with his deliveries in a contemporary ‘Christmas with Love’ advert, promoting luxury, togetherness and the power of Christmas. And even Sainsbury’s has chipped in this year with their own storytelling of an animated Christmas musical tale of a busy father desperately trying to find gifts for kids.
Some companies, like fashion brand Burberry have been using Christmas as an opportunity to tell people about their brand values through short films (or long adverts, depending on how you look at it. With the 3 minute advert Burberry wanted to ‘tell the story of Thomas Burberry – pioneer, inventor, innovator, and the man behind the iconic trench coat – in our own words’ This powerful video has already been viewed 13,954,460 times on YouTube since being published, and sales of Burberry have increased this Christmas. Check out this companies storytelling and you will think it is the trailer for a new block buster film!
Even charities have discovered the power of storytelling adverts. In what has been daubed the most ‘heart-breaking’ advert of the year, Alzheimer’s Research UK teamed up with Stephen Fry to deliver you the story of when Santa forgot Christmas. They have tapped into an issue that plagues thousands across the country and, through this fictional character, have turned it into a story even those without first-hand experience can relate to. If you don’t get a bit teary while watching it, you must have a heart of iron. This advert has been up just 3 weeks, with 153,957 views on YouTube and millions more from TV sets everywhere. Donations are up and more and more people are aware of this disease than ever before. So even though all of these companies have used the John Lewis ideas, all of them are seeing results.
What Does This Have To Do With Relationships?
Everything John Lewis do at Christmas, is designed to create a relationship with their audience, and they do it perfectly. You develop a connection with their brand because of the emotions they evoke and the stories they tell, so viewers are more likely to trust and buy from them. Every business should be learning from this storytelling, regardless of size. For smaller businesses, it’s less about crafting a beautiful advertising campaign and more about telling an honest, genuine story that will help readers get to know you as a brand and trust you.
You can do this through your marketing and About Us page on your website, but a big part of that storytelling comes in the relationships we build during networking. Every time you meet someone for coffee or at a networking meeting, you will talk about something new and learn different things about each other, strengthening the connection between you and reinforcing the idea that you are trustworthy and worthy buying from or referring.
So this year, when you’re enjoying our Christmas networking lunch, make sure you take the time to have a meaningful conversation and get to know someone better. Those strong relationships are the foundation of great business relationships, and that’s how business gets done. From all of us at 10-12, have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year, we hope you have enjoyed our storytelling blog.