Silicon Valley is a popular [and explicit] TV show on HBO. It follows a small group of nerds who are passionate about their start-up, Pied Piper, and are trying desperately to pitch it to investors and get the funding they need to build a new internet. Not surprisingly, these guys are much better at deciphering code than they are at eloquently outlining their business plan to venture capitalists, and hilarity ensues through their successes and failures.
This past season, the CEO & COO of Pied Piper are invited on prime time TV to explain their business to the masses.
The TV hosts says, “tell me what your new internet is.” Jared, the lanky COO who is sporting the same haircut he had in his fifth grade school photo replies, “manure.”
One word. And a synonym for HORSE POOP nonetheless.
As a viewer in the audience, you’re confused. Maybe even a little embarrassed for him. You stifle a childish giggle the way you did during anatomy class in high school during the reproduction chapter.
But then, it gets great.
Here’s a great example of captivating your audience and pulling them in through storytelling:
“I’m sure you’re aware of the great London horse manure crisis of 1894? In the 1890s, the industrial revolution had people flocking to the city. And more people equals more horses and more horses equals more manure. And it was predicted that by the middle of the next century there would be nine feet of manure covering the streets. But, what no one saw coming was a new technology that would completely obliterate those concerns – the car. Overnight the manure problem vanished. And, the internet as we currently know it is rife with identity theft and spam and hacking – so, manure – and we believe that in success our new entirely decentralized internet will be just as significant as the car.”
The analogy is not only intriguing – everyone can envision concerns over continually growing piles of steaming horse dung in the streets creating obstacles for their daily commute – but it helps an audience who likely does not know the ins and outs of backend coding to understand the product Jared and his team are launching.
Pied Piper doesn’t always make the best marketing decisions, but in this moment they nail it.