ACE provides more evidence story trumps messaging

Recently I had the fascinating experience of working my way through scores of video interviews with Academy for Chief Executives members, in order to edit up testimonials for the organisation. It was the most fun I’ve had editing content in a long time, and a timely reminder that a powerful story is hard to beat.

When we began working with the ACE they had a classic chicken and egg communication problem – people found it hard to understand the value of being a member until they experienced it. Our strategy was to give them a taste of the organisation via video interview, to help them understand what they might get out of it.

Approaching the shoot, “why would someone want to spend a day a month going to some kind of support group for business people?” seemed like a very legitimate question. After watching a succession on strong, successful businesspeople talk candidly about the loneliness of life at the top, as well as the need to have your ideas challenged and your mind expanded, I’m a convert.

As humans we love stories of hope and transformation, and hearing tough players from the construction industry acknowledge the extent to which ACE has helped them become, not just better at business but also happier, more balanced people, is compelling stuff. “What a great thing!” I found myself thinking.

The ACE interviews are a classic example of the old sales maxim, ‘show don’t tell’. The genuine stories from actual members have sold what’s on offer at ACE much more appealingly than an interview with a member of staff or a finely messaged powerpoint presentation ever could. As comedian Tim Washer told us in a recent interview, sometimes it’s important for marketers to resist the urge to message. And just let the story work its magic.