Show, Don’t Tell: This is How It’s Done, Folks!


Here’s a piece of writing advice familiar to any aspiring novelist: Show, Don’t Tell. It’s simply better storytelling – more persuasive & compelling – to let your character’s actions clue the reader in to what is going on. Experience has taught most of us that what a person actually does is far more important than what they say they’re going to do. They believe this down in Missouri: the state’s unofficial nickname is “The Show-Me State”.

Show, Don’t Tell is also powerful marketing advice. Sony’s got a new MP3 player to promote. One of its biggest selling points is the fact it’s waterproof. Now, Sony could have spent all day long telling you exactly how waterproof their MP3 player is. But they decided to show you instead:

According to The Next Web, this is how Sony is marketing its MP3 player in Australia. That’s right: you can buy your latest bottle of water with a MP3 player INSIDE IT. This is a brilliant demonstration of show, don’t tell in action:

  • It immediately captures attention by presenting the unexpected. We’ve all learned (often the hard way!) that electronics and water just don’t mix.
  • It leaves absolutely no question about what the MP3 player’s compelling benefit is. What better demonstration of waterproofness exists than actually plunging the product into water?
  • It communicates rapidly. As the public’s attention span continues to shrink, it’s important to remember that showing takes much less time than telling.

Visual storytelling means using images, videos, and even innovative product packaging to articulate your brand’s message. When executed properly, visual storytelling will help you sell your products and services more effectively. The very first lesson of visual storytelling is show, don’t tell.

How can you apply this lesson to your small business?

There are several types of stories you could be telling. Sony chose to tell a story about their MP3 player’s waterproof feature. You could similarly pinpoint a unique element of your business, and tell a story about how cool that feature is.

Another powerful type of story is the transformation story. Using before and after imagery is a simple way to tell a tale. Use images to show an actual change, or document the change in someone’s emotional state before you helped them out. They were sad with a flat tire, but ecstatic after Bob’s Tire Service came to the rescue is a simple but powerful sales-generating narrative.

Would you like to try the Show, Don’t Tell technique with your customers, but don’t know how to start? Give us a call! Our experienced team of marketing professionals can do it all for you, from concept creation to plan implementation. This is how you take your company to the next level!

Show, Don’t Tell: This is How It’s Done, Folks!
Article Name
Show, Don’t Tell: This is How It’s Done, Folks!
Visual storytelling will help you sell your products and services more effectively, especially as consumers' attention spans continue to wane. Learn how to use the Show, Don't Tell technique to take your company to the next level.

Leave a Reply