Is there a gap in the story you’re telling?
Are your customers falling through some hidden hole?
Are you even telling the right story?
Your story matters. It’s the one thing with which you can reach out and connect with those who you want to talk to. You want the empathy of saying: I know how you feel, I’ve seen someone else, quite like you who also had this problem, but with a little help, I’ve seen how they turned their problem around. Do you want me to tell you about it?
And yet chances are, you’re taking it for granted that you audience gets that you genuinely want to help them. But do they?
Reasons why people don’t engage with what you’re saying
1. It’s irrelevant to them
As sisters do, my little sister and I were having a long phone conversation about men and love and relationships when she cracked a beautiful joke about Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. There was a silence and no laughter. “You what?”
She’s a chemist; I studied physics. We’ve both used that mathematical wonder that is a Fourier transform in our work, but she’s probably now more familiar with Fourier transforms than I ever was. If I ever knew about Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, the knowledge is long lost. Her joke whizzed over my head and bounced off the wall behind me.[For the curious out there, apparently the interesting data in Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy is the data that isn’t there. It’s the gaps. It’s reading between the lines. The wise advice from my sister was to focus on the evidence in front of you, rather than staring at the spaces in between- evidence not gaps.]
Now she’s my little sister. Few people know me better than her. And if she can make her message irrelevant so easily, what’s the betting you can too with your audience.
It takes a dose of mindfulness and the courage to elicit feedback again and again and again before you start making the jokes that really get you great rapport. Only then can you start creating great, relevant content.
2. You’re actually triggering anxiety
In school, I studied French. Unless you really loved learning languages at school, you’ll understand when I say that I became rather intimidated by the French language. There are numerous methods for language learning, but the exam syllabus focused predominantly on the grammar translation method with a few relevant practical topic areas thrown in to balance it out. Ten years later, I arrive in France to live for a couple of months, and my anxiety spiked. I could construct a sentence in my head, but faced with a French person, my mind would go blank, immobilised by perfection.
I left France and went to Italy. There was no expectation that I would be able to speak Italian. When I get into the yellow van of my Italian hosts, I don’t understand a word of what is being said. Two weeks later however, I’m happily yelling, with wild gestures, in Italian. What’s more I’m understood.
Your audience is going to come to you with a backstory. They’ve got all sorts of anxiety triggers. Especially if what your selling comes with a risk of embarrassment – whether that be the embarrassment of choosing the wrong product, failing to learn the material, or financial mishap. We live in a world with an obsession with perfection and we’re stressed out by it.
Chuck in a few unexplained references or acronyms, a confusing diagram and ambiguous structure and you’ll scare your reader away before they have worked out how it is you help.
3. Or you’re hiding the interesting part
It’s really easy to over-simplify.
And this can leave people feeling that they haven’t got enough information to make a decision. Or that you are hiding something.
Or it could simply make your content so incredibly boring that they don’t remember who you are, what you do and therefore fail to engage. Even if they do buy, they don’t actually care.
Plugging the gap in your story telling
So, if people don’t engage with your content because your arrow is missing their bullseye, it’s adding to their worries, or it’s putting a gloopy glaze over their eyes, what do you do?
On this page, you’ll find techniques I use to keep my language clean, to illustrate my point, and to invoke a smile and occasionally even a small ‘wow’.
Use your imagination to see if the techniques I use could clarify your message.
You want to bring a smile to your customer’s eyes?
The doodles on this site are all drawn by Catherine Oughtibridge. Some of them can be licenced for your use.
Although you see them typically as flat images on the website, all doodles start as vector graphics. This means you can use them big or small without pixilation.
You need to send me a link to the image you want, the type of file you need and if it’s a flat image (.png) the required image size.
If you want to view a full catalogue of these doodles, just ask. And if there’s an idea you have for a doodle, I’m always drawing more.
Whiteboard Animation Image Refinement
Adding an entertaining flair to your work can be difficult on a budget. If you’re trying to put together your own bespoke whiteboard animation with VideoScribe, you might have found it difficult to get complex images to draw beautifully.
I can make your image whiteboard ready. Send me your image and I’ll send you a quote.
And, in the unlikely case that a travel sketch is of use to you, I travel and I sketch. Maybe you want a watercolour cityscape or the image of a famous landmark?
Prints of many of my travel sketches are available on request.
Do you have a story you want to tell? Maybe it’s as simple as a health and safety warning, but you need a way of telling it that looks different.
Try a short ‘story that draws itself’. Create your story with either your own images or fresh new images or a mixture of both.
What you get:
- A video file with a hand drawing the images.
- A video file without a hand drawing the images.
- Each individual image to use within other content you produce.
- The additional option of combining whiteboard animation with some traditional animation.
If your diagrams are lacking a human touch, let’s redraw them with doodles.
What you get:
- A set of doodles to use throughout your content to bring it to life.
- A compilation of all the doodles into one diagram.
- The option of having separate combinations of doodles, or diagram components.
- The additional option of animating your diagram.
Article writing for the web
Story based copywriting with an honest and authentic voice on a wide range of subjects.
Content analysis and evaluation
Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective to point out where you might be losing your customers.
You can request a content review for:
- Search Engine Optimisation
- Placement within the marketing cycle
- Opportunities to reuse and make more out of the work you’ve already done
Full content strategy reviews are available for current clients.
Requesting a quote
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of you project and I shall get back to you.
If you request a quote, and it doesn’t work for you, drop me a polite message saying something along the lines of ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and there will be no hard feelings.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s normally best to have a chat to work out exactly what it is you want, but here are some suggestions of information that would be useful.
- What you ideally want the work to look like.
- When you require the work done by.
- Details of the project you want my work to fit in with. Including its target audience.
- What resources – audio, logos, images, research – you’re able to provide.
- Whether you want exclusive use and end ownership of all images.
- What you’re comfortable spending.
If it’s a big project and you think you’ll need additional revisions we can plan these in at the quote stage. Typically though, I prefer to work on a small project with a new client first to make sure we communicate well.
Unless we have a written agreement, Happenence Ltd. owns all of the generated images and designs and licence their use. You always retain ownership of images and information that you provide.
Many companies will of course want to own the design outright. In this case, we’ll draw up a contract to clearly define who owns what. Ownership transfers on confirmation of final payment.
However, having exclusive use might not be so important to you. For example, if you need material just for using in house.
Simply put, exclusivity costs more. Sharing saves you money.