We talk a lot about how brands should think about turning bland facts into neat stories through different storytelling techniques but what we talk about less and less is why. As with most trends, I think we simply assume that everyone know what we’re talking about and there’s no need to explain why people should do this in the first place. So, if you’re wondering how storytelling can spice up your marketing or need to convince your boss to give it a go – this post is for you.
Humanises your brand
Another thing we talk a lot about is humanising brands but we don’t really stop to tell people why this is important so good luck implementing something we only see as valuable because it’s being hyped up left and right. The fact of the matter is people trust people much more than a company intended to drive profit for its owners and share holders.
Think about it, why would you believe a chocolate manufacturer wants anything more than to use your sweet tooth to line its pockets? Now think about a friend of yours asking you if you’d like a taste of the chocolate he’s just made. That’s the difference between a cold, distance brand that’s out for profit and a human brand that interacts with its audience. This isn’t an act of charity, though, but both the brand and the audience get something out of the interaction; just like in real life.
Storytelling is the means through which we get to know a brand, how we bring dead facts to life in a way people actually want to hear. Storytelling takes the spotlight off the corporate clichés and puts it on the why we’ve made the chocolate, how we’ve discovered the recipe, how we feel about eating it, how other chocolate lovers feel about it and, let’s not forget, the friend who makes it.
Boosts brand engagement
Have you ever wondered how some brands consistently see scores of likes, shares, and comments on their posts? How about why people talk about the great experience they’ve had with one brand or another without getting anything in return? Of course you’ve wondered.
People share the stories they believe in and think their friends will like to read. In other words, engagement isn’t just about our own beliefs in a brand, it’s about our belief that sharing that brand with our friends will benefit them too. Now, how can we possibly think that fluff like X is an innovative company is going to be of any use to our connections? This company is building a mug that scans your drink and tells you what’s in it is much more likely to be of interest.
Stories are how we wrap what a product or service does into an angle the people we’re talking to care about. It’s how we stop self-advertising and start earning the right to engage in conversation with our audience and, when we do it well, our audience engages with us.
Enables iterative content
If there’s one thing that marketers can agree on is that we need to communicate with our audiences on a regular basis. What we struggle with is how to generate enough dialogue to maintain an always-on conversation. Imagine you’re in a room with 20 people holding a monologue which you hope will turn into a dialogue. Now image that you’re not stuck in that room for an hour but you’re stuck in there forever, yammering away as people come and go. Eventually, you’ll run out of new things to say. Unless you take a page out of a stand-up comedian’s book and start telling stories.
Unlike fast facts, a good story takes time to build. It requires a setting, a cast, a plot and a conclusion. This unique composition allows us to construct communication actions that build interest and engagement over time. In a nutshell, this means more stuff we can talk about on many more, separate occasions. So we’re not just communicating more often but we’re reiterating the same messages, making sure they sink in.
Allows for granular targeting
Knowing what we want to say is one thing, knowing how to say it to make it interesting for our audiences is quite another, more complicated thing. Where traditional marketing initiatives have us establish a positioning that’s relevant for our buyers, thanks to its episodic nature, storytelling allows us to position different angles of the same story for a wider variety of audiences, significantly expanding our reach without negatively impacting our consistency.
We’re, therefore, not just targeting the right people with the right content, we’re sparing our audience irrelevant information, and we’re doing this through a single story branching out into multiple iterations, rather than reinventing the wheel every single time.
The Bottom Line
In a world full of facts and noise, more and more audiences are drawn by the creative, human narrative that storytelling enables. In fact, storytelling is such a valuable asset to how we communicate on a daily basis, we’ve literally been telling stories ever since we could chisel, talk or draw.
It’s such an integral part of how we process the world around us that we will likely continue to tell them over and over again. It’s up to you whether you want to leverage this tried and tested means of communication but if it’s been handed down to us all the way back from the first cavemen, I think it’s worth a shot, don’t you?