The art of storytelling is vital for any business. It is the basis for great communication and albeit the fact that it’s an ancient form of exchanging information, it is an invaluable skill that when mastered, propels you ahead of any of your competitors. It is how we educate, influence, persuade, and connect with our audience, readers, and ultimately consumers. See the thing about stories is that they illustrate the core values of society and efficiently delineate how everything is valued. Businesses today have the uncanny ability to manipulate certain story telling elements to really change the way entities are perceived and valued in society (especially in good favor). So as a marketer, you are able to create these myths. Myths that indicate how consumers are, in a sense, damsels-in-distress and the companies are the heroes that come in to save the victims with their products and services (and there are times where it’s no longer a myth but is the actual reality). This subliminal core message is seen throughout various advertising campaigns in all sorts of mediums. This is exactly why storytelling is critical for your business.
1. Why is it important for businesses to truly consider applying storytelling in their marketing campaigns?
Storytelling in essence, is a really a great tool when you want your consumers to retain information that deals with your product and/or your company. You see our brain retains information through associations. When we experience an event, our brains references the sights, smells, sounds, feelings and our overall impressions into a categorical relationship—and the amalgamation of these senses then stores itself as one and classifies itself into a memory. In short, we associate moments in time with our five senses. Being inundated with so much information, choices, and background noise, we become easily distracted and our attention span is reduced significantly. So that is why storytelling is really important to marketers and businesses overall because creating vivid imagery that stimulate the senses helps grab the attention of the intended audience. And sticks! Also, according to research we are 22 times more likely to remember stories than we are with cold hard facts. I mean when was the last time you remembered a lecture with nothing but dry statistical text versus the emotional episodes of Game of Thrones? Let’s face it, ultimately the goal of marketers is to capture the consumer’s attention and retain that attention. Because success and profit really stem from returning customers and also in return good organic word-of-mouth marketing that comes from storytelling, companies that are able to achieve this is more likely to be taken seriously by potential clients than forced advertising. This is because it is based on a foundation of trust. Trust and real authentic experiences from people that are willing to speak and share about a company and its products/services without any sort of sponsorship from that company, is truly invaluable. This is even more apparent in today’s market/generation where consumers are getting savvier with the help of the internet. People are more likely to buy into products that have honest opinions than those with paid sponsorships. It’s a reason Amazon’s reviews are a gold mine.
So the quick formula for this organic storytelling form of marketing is this…
Consumer A tells potential consumer B that a certain product changed their life and tells them about their amazing experiences with ABC company. They depict the advantages of the products and how they build a community and have great customer service in a form of a story (telling their own story) which is more believable than a commercial online with paid actors. No sponsorships, just genuine organic word-of-mouth. I’ve done this with several products myself. I am a big fan of Japanese skincare products. I don’t get paid by the brands I use, but I always talk about it because it really has changed my skin! I tell the story of how my skin changed after I had my daughter and I went on Amazon and tried a few Japanese skincare products because of all its rage and have never looked back. Everyone has at one point done this with something they believed in. Whether that be physical products or online services.
Another great example of a brand that uses storytelling to their advantage is a local company called FIT REPUBLIC. What they have accomplished in such a short amount of time with little paid advertising is incredible. I was introduced to this company recently and have been impressed by their marketing strategies. They have mastered the art of telling a story about their mission on fitness while building a community around their core values. They have also successfully created a place where their products and services impacts their customers’ lives. This then resulted in a movement and a lifestyle that the community has found incredibly impactful and that people can relate to that helps create a buzz that others are willing to talk about. The brand not only shares their story about how and why they started, but their devoted customers have the ability to share their own stories on the company’s social media platforms that then pulls other potential consumers in. It’s that type of rapport and resonance companies need to emanate through storytelling to capture and secure their intended market segment. (P.S. This short case study on this brand is not a sponsored post and are opinions of my own. I honestly just think that they have done an incredible job of using storytelling as a means to further the business and thought it appropriate to mention them in this post).
And so through this, it comes back to a full circle and ultimately is why storytelling is really something businesses need to be incorporating about and not just thinking about exploring.
Here’s a quick infographic on the inner workings of storytelling:
2. What is the process for creating a compelling story?
There is not a specific manual, in my opinion, that indicates how to create a compelling story. There is no “follow A, B, C, and D” in that chronological order that guarantees you a remarkable story. However, I do believe that there are fundamental elements that can make a compelling story. One of the commandments in storytelling in general is making your audience care. If they don’t care, they won’t stick around to listen. You have to make the other party care—and really in order to make someone care, you have to create curiosity in something they may be interested in. Humans by nature are curious beings. If you are able to tap into that, then you are already halfway there.
But how do we do this? How do we create curiosity?
- Well, you have to include a conflict, more specifically a conflict that resonates with your potential readers/consumers. It has to be something that is relevant in today’s generation. Look at what is/are the zeitgeist(s)? What is driving the minds of today’s consumers?
- As I mentioned before, stimulate the senses. Stimulating the senses helps retain information in the brain. That is why we can recall certain experiences even if they only occurred once. Repetition helps but sometimes it only takes once to remember. And if it’s good enough, once is all you need.
- You need to be authentic. Authenticity helps create a very compelling and remarkable story. Pull from what you know and from what you have experienced because from there, you are able to resonate with your audience, with your readers, with your consumers. The story becomes relatable. It brings the element of being personable. It’s not unreachable. People today want something they can attain. That’s why bloggers are one of the most successful storytellers today because everyday people can relate to them on a regular basis.
- Be fully cognizant of the platform you use in which you tell your story. A great story (hence the word great and not just good) is specifically tailored to the platform in which you are presenting the information. So for instance, storytelling vocally at a 15 minute TedTalk presentation differs from storytelling on a 10 second Snapchat video. Storytelling visually on a still frame from Instagram compared to a gif on Tumblr will be completely different as well. Another one goes to posting on Facebook in comparison to a limited character tweet on Twitter versus a full 900 word count blog post on a fully hosted WordPress blog website. You really need to understand the psychology behind each platform to create a compelling story. Because the delivery of the story is just as important as the content of the story.
This my friends, is the exact reason why businesses need to tell stories in the right form to take their business to the next level. If you are not doing so already, add storytelling to your marketing strategies. We hear and tell stories every single day. Whether thats visually on an Instagram photo or a SnapChat video. It’s how we tell each other about our day, how we talk about our beloveds, and how we may never use a product again or how we just became converts to only using one company for their services. It’s a form of communication that allows our minds to tap into our imaginations and helps us succumb to the emotions that derive from that moment. So never miss this opportunity with your consumers because emotions and desires play a very important role in decision making.
RELATED BOOKS TO READ
Thoughts? Share them and tag us at #conqueringWonderland!