Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions in existence and predates writing as our main form of communication. Though oral narratives are the most familiar form of storytelling, stories have been shared through other mediums such as paintings, dance, and hand gestures. No matter what form they take, stories are not only engaging, they’re also memorable over long periods of time. This is why people have used storytelling for generations to disseminate news, share entertainment, and pass down cultural information. Stories bring people together for a common purpose and give them an experience that sticks with them.
Your business can leverage the art of storytelling and compelling stories to improve your brand’s visibility and get your message across to clients. You just need to know how.We’ll help you understand what it means to tell a good story, discuss why storytelling is used in business, and give you tools to create your brand’s own story.
What is the power of storytelling in business?
Gone are the days when businesses could expect people to purchase things because commercials simply rattled off the features and benefits of whatever product it was promoting. Modern consumers no longer want to feel like they’re sitting through a sales pitch. Flashy generic ads with lots of copy just don’t draw people in like it used to.
Consumers want to see people like themselves using your product and services, then share that information with their friends through social media networks like SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook. They want to feel like their favorite brand is a part of their lives. In a nutshell, storytelling is creating those meaningful bits that will connect you to your clients.
People are used to sharing their lives on social media and used to getting information in that manner. Storytelling in business just puts your brand at the forefront of the experiences people are sharing anyway.
Why use storytelling for business?
Brands are more than just names given to the products people buy. Brands reflect values, interests, and lifestyles; they have certain demographics they’re trying to reach. And it’s those things that people remember most because the brain processes images, even imaginary ones, faster than words and retains the information longer.
Take vehicles as an example. Think of a Jeep Wrangler, a Honda Civic, and a Harley Sportster. A pretty clear picture about these vehicles starts to form in your mind, right? You immediately imagine who is behind each wheel; what type of person they are; the make-up of their family. Each vehicle evokes a different feeling. You can probably even imagine what road they’re on, where they might be going, and why.
What didn’t immediately pop into your head is something like curb weight, gas mileage, torque, or other such specification. This is why storytelling is used business; it puts your brand’s ideas in the collective conscious of your customers.
Tools to create a useful story
1. Be authentic
Use real anecdotes from your customers and employees. If that’s not possible, then try to create characters that reflect your company’s values.
For example, if you’re an eco-conscious company then you could have people share stories about your recycling program. Or create a mascot that shares the recycling adventures of your company. Geico’s caveman and gecko are good examples of a business using a mascot to represent the ideals of its brand.
Another example of authenticity would be a modern furniture company using a current trendy campaign rather than traditional imagery.
2. Have a clear narrative
Stories don’t have to be long and complicated in order to get their point across. In our hectic online world, it’s best to keep it simple.
Your story does need a plot and the easiest way to do this is by using one of the following seven story archetypes: overcoming the monster; rags to riches; the quest; cottage and return; comedy; tragedy; rebirth.
The I WILL WHAT I WANT campaign by Droga5 for Under Armor is a good example of this. In less than two minutes, viewers experience the “overcoming the monster” archetype. This becomes apparent as we watch female athletes go from heartache to triumph by smashing through personal and professional obstacles.
3. Use realistic content and dialogue
You know the old clichés about boring instructional videos from the 1970s. Those clichés exist, in part, because the scenarios and dialogue were so dry, flat, and unbelievable. Old commercials feel fake and stilted because there’s no way a real person would utter most of those taglines.
One of the best ways to get around this is to use phrasing and situations you’ve already heard or experienced in real life.
Appeal to your audience by speaking to them like they speak amongst themselves. Use the jargon and slang you’d expect them to use. A good way to make sure your content sounds realistic is by reading the copy aloud.
4. Don’t be afraid to show emotion
Stories don’t just convey information; they connect people emotionally.And people have an innate desire to find meaning within these emotions. Additionally, studies show that emotions play a significant role in consumer purchasing behavior.
Having an emotional response is key to effective advertising.Your brand can use emotion by promoting a cause, showing that you relate to the needs of your audience, or showing how you can make life easier.
Pampers’ “Mom’s First Birthday” campaign was an excellent example of a brand showing support for their consumers. It did this by showing fathers thanking moms for everything they did in the first year after their baby was born. This campaign was memorable because it connected with women of all backgrounds.
Storytelling may not be a new concept, even in business, but it’s definitely an important one in our age of constant contact and sharing. Using its principles in your marketing campaign interests connects, and sticks with audiences like no other format. A story will reach your audience faster and stay with them longer than a specification sheet.