I recently attended a National Home Builders Association Shop talk about breaking through barriers with powerful storytelling. The featured guest was John Palumbo, a businessman, author and speaker who writes and lectures internationally about sales psychology and consumer behavior. There were a lot of nuggets to draw from the hour long session. But none sat with me more than this: “Storytelling is soft selling with a hammer.”

storytelling is soft selling with a hammer
NAHB Sales and Marketing Council Shop Talk

I’ve never heard someone sum up storytelling quite so perfectly and concisely. Storytelling is powerful like the dropping of a hammer. But when it’s done correctly, it’s gentle, authentic and real. There is no need to shove a brand, product or item down someone’s throat. The story does all the work for you. If it strikes all the right chords, it will hook potential customers and clients.

Powerful storytelling requires the obvious: who, what, when, where and why. But it also needs to elicit emotion. That is the hammer that drives in the nail. Emotion can be a smile, laughter, tears — whatever you want and need it to be. The key to this is first knowing your audience. Never tell a story before you know who you want it to reach. And then craft the story to draw the emotion required. The story does all the selling for you in the softest of ways.

Branded Content | Storytelling

There is no greater example of how storytelling is soft selling with a hammer than branded content. I really think Nike is the king of this. They produce entire advertisements that never speaks the name Nike, but the iconic swoosh is seen throughout the commercial. But you don’t need to be a major brand to create successful branded content. Again, it’s about knowing your target audience. If you’re audience knows you, then you can drop the storytelling hammer with branded content.


Take our People of the Plant Floor video series for example. We work with L2L, a lean manufacturing software company, to help recruit talent to the manufacturing world. Manufacturing is often misunderstood. Many think it’s not a bright career path but People of the Plant Floor shows just the opposite. And when you watch the video, you’ll notice L2L is never spoken by name. It’s just powerful storytelling that shows L2L products in use throughout.

COAST Med Device

We also partner with Seattle based COAST Med Device on a series called Surgeons of Spine. The video series serves two purposes: to share powerful stories about local surgeons (the hammer) and it acts as branded content (soft selling). COAST Med Device is an exclusive distributor of SeaSpine medical devices. In the healthcare world, SeaSpine is known for its bright orange devices. As you’ll see in the video, SeaSpine is never spoken in the story but those orange devices are hard to miss.

Customer Testimonials | Storytelling

Customer testimonials are another prime example of soft selling with a hammer. I mean, this is soft selling in its truest form. It’s not even you or your business doing the talking. It’s someone else making the pitch for you, and it all revolves around powerful storytelling.

HomeStreet Bank

We work with HomeStreet Bank on a customer testimonial video series called Better Together. We feature business banking and commercial banking customers, sharing the story of their business and how HomeStreet Bank helped them succeed. The series is so successful that we turn many of our feature videos into advertisements for television and streaming services. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, there is a good chance you’ve seen our HomeStreet Bank ads on your screen. The Better Together video series is authentic, powerful, and it drops the hammer in the softest of ways.

Fundraising | Storytelling

When storytelling is soft selling with a hammer, it benefits non-profit organizations as well. There is a reason every event has a featured speaker or video that shares the story of how a non-profit has helped them. And there is a reason the fundraising ask follows shortly after. The hammer has dropped thanks to the drawing of emotion, which tends to open up pocket books.

The Here and Now Project

The Here and Now Project empowers the paralysis community in the Pacific Northwest. They partnered with us to create a fundraising video for an event. The video shares the story of the Here and Now Project from its very beginning, and takes you on a journey to where they are today. It’s incredible stuff. When I sent the video to the non-profit organization’s co-founder, he wrote back and told me the video had him in tears. Once meant for a fundraising event, our video now lives on their website, softly asking for support in a very powerful way.

Storytelling is Soft Selling with a Hammer

Storytelling is the strongest tool in your marketing and sales toolbox. Admittedly, storytelling is a bit of a buzzword these days. And for some they just get downright annoyed when they hear the word storytelling. But ignore the noise. If you know your audience and elicit emotion, it’s the easiest sale you’re ever going to make. And it’s all because of storytelling.

storytelling is soft selling with a hammer
Authentic interviews are essential to powerful storytelling

I also understand that storytelling is not everyone’s strongest skill. That’s what our Seattle video production and content creation company is here for. With more than two decades of experience in television news and video production, professional storytelling is what we do best. And we partner with individuals, business and non-profits in and around Seattle. But we also travel anywhere there is a powerful story to share.

Please contact us by phone, text or email. Or find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And you can also watch more of our videos on YouTube and Vimeo, or right here on on our portfolio. Let’s drop the storytelling hammer together.