From trash to technological treasure
Meet Kelvin Doe, otherwise known as DJ Focus. Kelvin is a 15-year-old boy from Sierra Leone who wanted to be a DJ so badly that he decided to build his own radio station from electronics scraps he found in trash. If you haven’t seen Kelvin’s story, I recommend you watch it now. (It’s well worth the 10 minutes.)
Inspirational stories work
Kelvin Doe’s inspirational story has brought him global recognition: He’s spoken at TEDxTeen, appeared on CNN and NBC, and been featured on Huffington Post. Most recently, Kelvin was named one of the most creative people of 2013 by “Fast Company” magazine. Indeed, Kelvin’s ability to share his personal experience opened up a world of possibilities that he would likely never have had access to.
But Kelvin isn’t the only one who gained new opportunities by sharing his story. MIT’s Visiting Practitioners Program and YouTube channel, Thnkr — both of which supported Kelvin as he began his journey of discovery — have turned the experience into a shining example of how branded storytelling can connect with and engage audiences.
The B2B content marketing struggle
B2B content marketers can often feel overwhelmed by the challenge of creating relevant brand content that meets their audience’s needs, let alone trying to make those stories meaningful in a real-life setting. But in today’s online universe, it’s never been easier to find a story that can inspire — you just have to know what to look for.
A brand’s missed opportunity
TE Connectivity is a global brand. But unless you’re an electrical engineer, you’ve probably never heard of them. The company makes more than 500,000 different electronic connectors, which can be used in virtually any device known to man. Despite this universal applicability, TE Connectivity is, in essence, involved in a pretty boring business: the business of selling highly technical parts to electrical engineers.
The company’s tagline is, “Every connection counts.” (I’m sure its marketing team is aware of the double entendre there.) Obviously, its connectors must be reliable, fast, and productive. But what about the human connections they make?
The power of connections
Kelvin’s story is full of connections (literally and figuratively). Kelvin connects problems with solutions. He connects parts he’s foraged from discarded appliances with homemade batteries to power his radio equipment. He was fortunate enough to be connected with David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, who encouraged Kelvin to explore his curiosity. In turn, David connected Kelvin with the Visiting Practitioners Program at MIT — an opportunity very few people are afforded. Kelvin embodies the idea that every connection counts — and can be worthy of sharing with others.
If TE connectivity really believes that “every connection counts,” why hasn’t it gotten more involved with people like Kelvin — people who are driven to learn and discover new solutions (technological or otherwise)?
Kelvin’s connections and his innate curiosity aren’t unique. There are hundreds of other stories you can find online of children and teenagers trying to solve problems by building and creating new things. (Check out this video about a kid building a nuclear fusion reactor, or this one about a 13-year old making a wall-climbing vacuum suit.)
This is what engineers do. TE connectivity has the opportunity to grab hold of the viral potential of stories like Kelvin’s and turn it into something special — content that forges new connections for its business.
What if TE Connectivity created a series highlighting one child like Kelvin every single month? What if it invited professional engineers to participate in the program by sponsoring and mentoring the children it highlights? What if TE Connectivity took its tagline less literally and more figuratively? Don’t you think more engineers would think about TE connectivity more often in their daily lives? Don’t you believe TE Connectivity would be more relevant to more engineers who are working on projects that require the products it sells?
What inspirational stories have you let pass by instead of grabbing hold of them to create content relevant to your audience? What if you spent more time looking for the kind of content that taps into the emotion behind your business? What if you got more involved in exploring the lives your products and services touch?
Looking for more ideas on how to create inspiring stories for your brand? Read Andrew Davis’ book, “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships.”