Kindra Hall is an award-winning columnist, author, and national champion storyteller. As a former Director of Marketing and VP of Sales, Kindra discovered the most effective method for capturing attention and increasing revenue—great storytelling. Kindra now teaches innovative brands and executives to close more sales, become better leaders, and blow up brands with the irresistible power of strategic storytelling.
There’s opportunity everywhere, even as the digital landscape continues to change.
Transition your goal from trying to capture someone’s attention to having them give it to you.
The biggest mistake brands make is they try to find one big story—but brands are made up of many, many small stories.
Kyle: Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. I have a very special guest here on “Behind The Glasses” with Kindra Hall. Kindra, thank you so much for joining us today.
Kindra: Thank you for having me.
Kyle: How are you doing so far?
Kindra: So good. Well, I’m done with my presentation this morning so it’s smooth sailing from here for me.
Kyle: Nice. How do you feel about how everything went?
Kindra: That was so fun. I speak for a lot of different types of audiences and across a lot of industries, and I have to say marketing groups are so fun. Because they really can…like you can see them even with the lights on your face, you can see them rethinking some projects that they’ve done or projects that are coming up, and that’s what I love, to have them refocus on the stories they could actually tell, which is fun for me.
Kyle: Absolutely. And then for those of us or for other people tuning in and listening, just to kick things off a little bit, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background?
Kindra: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I see my title as professional storyteller, but I think a lot of marketers would say that. I told my very first story as an assignment in 5th grade in English class, and then I discovered the power of strategic storytelling like using story to make information matter when I was a senior in high school. So I didn’t drop out of high school at that point. I did go on and got my master’s degree. But actually, my master’s degree was within communications studies and management, and my thesis was on the role of storytelling in organizational socialization, so how cultures are built and developed based on the stories that they’re told. But then from there, I was a director of marketing and then a VP of sales. And I really realized that when I was my best was still when I was telling stories. When my team was their best was when they were focusing on the stories. And so several years ago, I left that job, had a couple of kids, and now this is what I get to do.
Kyle: Oh, that’s awesome. And that’s one of the things I found really interesting is how you mentioned you were a VP of sales. One of the things that I was kind of thinking about was, you know, with the storytelling aspect being a big part of that, how do you kind of see the storytelling from like a sales perspective versus the marketing perspective, where they intersect?
Kindra: Yeah. Well, you know what? That’s really funny that you asked that because I think that’s one of the most important intersections there is in business, right? Because a sales person…and it goes back and forth, right? So the salespeople are out facing the customers, they’re the ones, they’re who really get the stories or how, you know, you can see that. And so the responsibility of the salespeople to take those stories and send them back to marketing because then marketing can take those and turn them into tools, right, story tools that can be put back through and given back to the sales team, or put out in terms of marketing. Where the problem can happen, is sales are doing their thing, marketing is doing their thing, and the two never communicate. And so the more that we can bridge the gap between sales and marketing, the better. I know that’s a new concept, but to start then thinking about that bridge as being built with the stories, it can go a really long way.
Kyle: Absolutely. And then even with building that bridge, you know, you have your conversations with sales. You get all that content in from marketing and then they have to go and do their efforts. What channels do you see being the powerhouses of digital these days?
Kindra: I mean, I don’t even, these days, like, shouldn’t it be today? You know, I don’t even…I think there’s opportunity everywhere. I mean we have all the changes with Facebook. Who knows what’s going down with that. But one of the things that I did think was interesting, you know, with the big topic 90 days ago was that Zuckerberg was removing brands from the main News Feed. It really then became…because to have more meaningful content, what that was really saying is we want more stories.
ing team, continuing to post stories because that’s meaningful content that people connect to. I think there is…video is a great way to do it, you know. We often limit ourselves to, we think we only have 30 seconds or a minute and a half, which is true. You can’t go on for 7 minutes, but if you’re telling a story, it transitions your objective as the marketer from trying to get someone’s attention. And I think I said this on stage, from trying to get someone’s attention to having them give it to you. And when you tell a story…I mean, I’m sure you’ve had that happen where you’ll be watching one of those videos and you just get drawn in. And before you know it, that’s a long form. There’s so much ability to do short form and then tell the story somewhere else, and people are wanting to engage in that. Email, I think, is an…I mean, there’s just…again, anywhere.
Kyle: Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, we’re trying to build these meaningful content you really want to get engagement. Where do you turn for inspiration in your career? Are there any other particular brands or thought leaders that you really look to for inspiration?
Kindra: Oh, gosh. You know, I just like…I literally was on a plane yesterday reading a newspaper, and like an actual paper, and I tore it. I tore out the article. And the woman sitting next to me was like, “I don’t know the last time I saw somebody tear out an article.” And it was the “Wall Street Journal” and they had interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk. And I don’t know, I think he’s… Whatever he’s doing he does it loudly, and I appreciate that. Mel Robbins is speaking at this event later. I love what she’s doing, yeah.
Kyle: Oh, that’s awesome. And I mean I think it’s one of those things that’s important where, you know, a lot of people want to try and find their source of inspiration, kind of craft, what they’re doing after them, and then really just try to put their own personal twist or take on it though.
Kindra: Yeah, and that’s where my business is still, like, I’m not actually in digital marketing. But I am watching people who have a message that they care about and how did they continue to put it out there. And sometimes, I don’t know about you, but that gets really annoying when people are so good. And you’re like, “Oh, shoot. I thought I was there,” and then you’re like, “Oh, but they are over there now. They’re doing so much better…” yeah.
Kyle: But then there’s something you can always take and kind of like, you know, add to your arsenal of little things, kind of like building your skill set.
Kindra: I love it. I love it. It’s great. It’s good to continue to be challenged.
Kyle: Oh, absolutely. And then, you know, with your background and your profession as a professional storyteller, what’s your number one storytelling tip for brands hoping to make a better connection with their audience?
Kindra: I think the biggest mistake brands make…well, I mentioned one in the presentation, but what I see happening on a brand level is they try to find, like, one big story. Brands are made up of many, many small stories. And so when you’re trying to create your brand and do storytelling branding, go small. Instead of going big, go small. That’s where the stories are. And then they eventually add up to a bigger story, but start small with the stories.
Kyle: Cool. And then will that story, like, one of the things that I find, like, myself very interested in or tend to be, you know, smaller brands that are, like, you know, based in the U.S. and stuff like that, that are, you know, really trying to get just their feet off the ground and get their businesses started. One of the things I’m curious about is, you know, what sort of emphasis or value would you place on a company just starting off developing that brand versus a more established, you know, Global 2000, Fortune 500-type company that are just honing their message in?
Kindra: So I think when you’re just getting started, the most important story to have is that founding story, is why. And not just like, “I did this because I believe the things can be done a better way, and blah, blah, blah,” but what was the moment, like where were you? Were you in your garage? Did you lick an ice cream cone and it fell off, and so you decided to make like an ice cream holder?” I don’t know what it is but, like, make sure you’re describing an actual moment. You’re telling an actual story instead of just saying, “We wanted to do things better, and we thought we could.” So again, go small in that way, yeah.
Kyle: Cool. Absolutely. And then what’s one thing marketers should do now to set themselves up for success for the rest of 2018 and beyond?
Kindra: It’s a great question. I mean, again, I feel like I’m sitting here, and I didn’t read the paper this morning so I don’t know what’s even happening today, right? But I think the most important thing you should focus on is it’s getting out there and getting…like go out and ask your customers or the people that you connect with or the people who make your business work, go out there and have real conversations with them and ask them for their stories. Now don’t say, “Tell me your story,” because that’s not gonna work, right? So that you can really…so then when you go back to create other messages, you’re doing it with those people in mind. And not only are you going to create better content that way, but you’re also… I mean, we all have bad days, right? We all have days where we’re really like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m doing this again,” right?
Kyle: Oh, yeah.
Kindra: But like it’ll re-engage you in the stories that are out there because of the work that you’re doing.
Kyle: Cool. That’s awesome. And I guess from a skills perspective, like, where do you think marketing professionals should be investing their time also, you know, being able to speak with their customers and developing that story is crucial. But if there’s, like, one particular skill that you can kind of hone in on, what would you recommend people focus on?
Kindra: I always recommend that people get good at public speaking. I mean, I think one of the things that set me up for success…of course, now I’m a public speaker, so. But I think just being able to confidently convey a message is…like, if you can do that and do it…it’s a really good skill, whether it’s one on one, or whether it’s in a group, or whether it’s networking. So I mean whether you start having, like, little public speaking, like you’re own speech team in the office or wherever it is, being able to do that is a really important skill. And especially, it seems contrary to digital because it’s live, but you’re gonna need both, so.
Kyle: Absolutely. Cool. Well, thank you very much for joining us today. I really enjoyed our conversation. I know that I have some actionable stuff I can take away, try and make myself a better marketer. But I just wanted to thank you so much for the time. Really appreciate it.
Kindra: Well, thank you. I hope I…can I tune in to…
Kyle: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Thank you.
Kindra: Thank you.