Janine Coombes: using stories to cut through on LinkedIn

Listen to Janine Coombes discuss how she started using storytelling in her business with The Secret Marketing Show.

When a friend shared a horror story about some feedback she had received on her videos, Janine Coombes put on a wig and stepped in front of the camera. She found her send-up of the situation not only got her message across, but made her stand out on her chosen platform: LinkedIn.

Janine and I discuss the power of storytelling, feeling the fear, and using feedback from social media to improve your content in the first of The Story Cave interviews. Listen to the interview using the media player above or read my write up below.

Janine Coombes chats to Rachel Extance

How Janine stumbled into storytelling with The Secret Marketing Show

I first came across Janine on LinkedIn. She was sharing brilliant videos in a series called The Secret Marketing Show. I watched as she transformed herself with wigs and make up into different characters and interviewed herself while holding a hairbrush microphone. The videos were funny but also insightful. She was sending up messages small business owners can fall prey to and getting them to think about their actions.

But when Janine first pulled on a wig, she had no idea what she was doing was storytelling, or that it would have such an impact on her audience.

Janine said: “The reaction I got was ridiculous. I’ve never had such a reaction, such engagement, people saying it was the funniest thing they’d ever seen. I could see that I’d made my point. Oh, ok, this is a way of cutting through.”

“I learned as I went along. I was never attempting to make it look particularly slick or professional.

“I had a mic because I was in a band a while ago and I was going to talk into a mic to be the reporter character but I couldn’t find it so I used a hairbrush which was funnier anyway.”

Standing out from the crowd

How did Janine feel when she published that first video?

“I was sweating, I was shaking, my heart was going. It was one of these things that I had to, I don’t know what it was, but I had to put it out and damn the consequences. I’ve just got to put it out,” Janine recalled.

 She said: “Speaking from the other side, you’ve just got to put it out there. If it’s in you and it’s natural and you want to do it and it represents you and what you believe then just, even if you feel like ‘oh people are going to say I’m stupid’, honestly, I’ve been so stupid. I ended up in some videos I’m dressing up as a man, with a really bad cockney accent. I watch them and think: “what the hell was I thinking?” It’s hilarious how silly I’m being and nobody called me out on it at all.

“I think it’s one of these things. If people don’t like it, they just switch off.”

Challenging accepted wisdom through storytelling

Janine found her videos enable her to quickly get her message across and help people make sense of an issue.

She said: “One of the ones I’m most proud of was the one where it’s ‘I see dead marketing’ because so many people were saying ‘marketing is dead’, ‘traditional marketing is dead’, ‘social media and content marketing is the only way’ and it so annoyed me. Big marketing books, well thought of influencers, would have this as a core theme, you know ‘marketing is dead’ and I just thought: ‘what are you talking about?’”

“I’d been banging on about this for probably about a year before I did a silly video about it. I used to get a few people commenting, fellow people who knew marketing was not dead because, hello! Marketing is what you’re selling to who. But I wasn’t really cutting through. I was preaching to the converted.

But when I did the video, it was so easy to consume. I try to aim for 3 minutes max in my videos. I just took the mickey out of it. I had a bit of fun. I make it so obvious that the phrase is nonsense ‘marketing is dead’. I think that is the power of storytelling.

If I see something that I disagree with, and I think it’s sort of accepted wisdom and I need to challenge it, I will think of a metaphor, or an analogy, or an example, or a fun way to put it that people who read it or see it will think: ‘well obviously, the accepted wisdom is wrong because this proves it!’ I do look for that and that’s what I do for clients as well.”

Using reader feedback to improve your content marketing

Janine has currently switched from creating videos to blogging so she can express her deep knowledge of marketing comprehensively.

She publishes articles on her website and then once they have been indexed by search engines, she publishes them on LinkedIn. Then she shares snippets from her article in posts of the next two weeks.

One of the benefits of this is that Janine is able to get feedback from her readers and then use this to update her articles.

She said: “In that process, sometimes I come to more realisations so I have to go back and edit the original blog or the article because somebody will say something.

“Again, it’s this feeding back of information and getting that feedback. I mean, that’s what social media is all about isn’t it? It’s getting feedback and listening to people and then reworking your messaging and reworking what you’ve written about.”

Picture of Janine Coombes

Janine Coombes

Janine Coombes is a marketing consultant who helps small business owners develop offers their audience want to buy. You can get in touch with her on LinkedIn.

Picture of Rachel Extance

Rachel Extance

Award-winning journalist and blogger. I help service-based business owners communicate who they are, what they do, and why. If you struggle to talk about yourself on your website or your content marketing, get in touch with me.

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One Response

  1. Thanks, Rachel, for sharing this conversation with Janine.

    I love how Janine is doing something so different and thank you for telling the story of the stories here.

    There are so many good lessons in this discussion, both from a marketing, storytelling and change perspective.

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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. The Story Cave Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.