There’s a look that Andre Curtain can’t get enough of.
“It’s that look of wonder and amazement,” he said, describing the expressions on kids’ faces as they learn about science and technology.
As the founder of Teach One Tech, Curtain has dedicated much of his life to helping kids learn about the exciting world of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and the career possibilities those fields hold.
His approach is not to lecture and teach kids, despite his organization’s name, but instead to inspire them. And he does that by giving them the means to discover and create their own stories.
It’s an approach that we as marketers can learn from.
A Powerful Tool
One of the most powerful ways companies can connect with their audience is by inspiring them.
By facilitating a journey of discovery, self-improvement and enrichment, they can help their audiences see a new future for themselves, and how they can make their lives, and the world around them, better.
As an example, think of a brand like Nike, which works very hard to inspire people to be stronger and healthier. But it’s not just about marketing.
Human resources departments at large companies may use this approach to help instill the company mission and culture in employees. Higher education institutions, especially non-traditional colleges like Phoenix University, inspire students to reach higher and attain better lives for themselves.
How do they do it? More importantly, how can you do it?
You can start by taking some cues from Curtain and how he inspires the kids he works with.
Start with an experience
It all starts with giving your audience, whether it’s consumers or employees or volunteers, a memorable experience. One that they can discover and learn for themselves and become immersed in the new possibilities you offer.
It should be an experience (or series of experiences) that will resonate with them, so be sure to keep an open ear to what they like, what they’re interested in, as Curtain does.
“We have an open ear to understanding what (the kids’) needs and what their desires may be,” he said. Having that understanding allows him to design experiences that will be meaningful to the kids.
Understand that everyone has their own story
It may seem obvious, but everyone has a different background and a different story. How they perceive your brand, and what they get out of the experience you provide, will be different for everyone.
Curtain understands this. He knows that every kid that comes to his STEM events has different things that they’re interested in, and different hopes and dreams.
He designs his events around this, helping kids to write their own stories. “By being open to new things and utilizing the skills they learn, it helps drive their imaginations,” he said.
It’s not different with the audiences you’re trying to reach. Instead of spoon-feeding them the messages you want, let them define what their stories should be.
Share those stories with the world
The two steps above describe how you can engage and inspire your existing audiences. But even better, they give you the means to reach new audiences.
When people are inspired and are allowed to discover and learn, inevitably great stories will come from that. Real, authentic, human stories.
Those stories are some of the most valuable content assets you can get. Find ways to share them – or allow your audiences to share them.
Stories of discovery and inspiration are extremely powerful. They are loaded with optimism and positivity that people crave, and can’t help but be drawn into.
If you’re in the business of helping your audiences be better versions of themselves, follow Curtain’s example and find ways to help them create their own stories.