"Storytelling is a popular marketing buzzword, and there are numerous examples demonstrating how brands that engage in storytelling derive value from the exercise. Much of the discussion around the topic focuses on how brands tell stories at a strategic level, but according to a study conducted by Hill Holiday research division Origin, companies can profit from applying storytelling at a much more practical level too. Origin's study presented 3,000 consumers in the US with two variations of product pages – one with a "standard" description and another with a description containing some sort of story. For instance, one product page for a bottle of wine contained a standard description of the wine with tasting notes, while the variation contained the winemaker's story instead of the tasting notes. Which page performed better? Consumers were 5% more likely to purchase from the product page with the winemaker's story, and they were willing to pay 6% more for the same bottle of wine."
Marketers typically don’t think of themselves as storytellers. Creatives? Yes. SEO experts? Sometimes. Wordsmiths? You bet. But “master storyteller” doesn’t usually fall under their job description.
Yet that’s exactly what marketers are. They carefully cultivate an audience through engaging content, telling their company’s story along the way. Once members of that audience raise their hands, marketers engage them in a more meaningful way to help them become ideal customers and, ultimately, brand advocates.
B2B marketing guru Ardath Albee has pioneered a strategy that relies on relevance and narrative to do exactly this; she calls it “the continuum approach.” As buyers navigate the customer journey, they receive content as part of a narrative, punctuated by stepping stones that answer their questions and help them discover what comes next.
One of the principles that every good copywriter learned in her first six weeks on the job was "tell a story." The reason is simple -- people remember stories (sadly, storytelling has now become an inescapable and insufferable cliché that every dimwit marketing poseur is required by law to mention twice in every sentence. But we'll leave that for another day.)
But storytelling has its dangers.
The danger is that anecdotes make far better stories than data.
These are the CMOs who have mastered the art of telling stories across platforms; the marketers who have created appointment-to-view advertising campaigns that consumers actually choose to watch; and those who have turned around the perception of their companies with messaging that gets to the heart of what their brand stands for.
So we decided to throw out the focus on the hospital website, concentrate on where emotion was taking us, and trust that we would be able to reconcile our findings with our client’s needs. We, as human beings, wanted to hear other human beings tell us about the difficulties of caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s disease. We wanted to know what it felt like to receive a cancer diagnosis after a long journey to many doctors across a spectrum of specialties. We wanted to understand what we could do, in any small way, to help make these Worst Days minutely less horrible, less terrifying, and less out-of-control. We knew that the client was behind the two-way mirror, concerned about the website navigation, but we also knew that we were going to get to someplace much more important and meaningful by following wherever these stories took us.
I took a deep breath and braced myself for at least another five minutes of rambling through totally unnecessary details. Why? Well, to be brutally honest, because I know that my friend isn’t exactly the most engaging storyteller I’ve ever met—meaning it was going to take all of my attention and willpower to make it through her seemingly endless and impossible-to-follow tale of woe.
You’ve been there before, right? We’ve all experienced those moments when we’ve had to do our best to actively listen while someone’s droning his or her way through a story more long-winded than Moby Dick. And, what’s even worse than that? Being the person who’s rambling incessantly.
Let’s face it—we’re not all natural-born storytellers. But, that doesn’t mean we don’t run into a ton of different situations where we need to do just that. Whether you need to explain a time you overcame a challenge in a job interview or share a catchy personal anecdote at a networking event, we all run into those instances in which we need to craft a compelling narrative—preferably without our audience’s eyes glazing over.
So, how can you tell a story that’s interesting and engaging? Well, these five tips are a great place to start.
All of this chicanery aside…what’s important for us as writers and entrepreneurs etc. is to remember that having a comprehensive understanding of story structure is not just helpful for us as creators.
It’s an indispensable analytical tool to save us from charlatans.
When we understand story structure we are empowered to see through the hype and directly question the motivations of the messenger. Here’s the post again to walk you through why this advertisement set off my story alarms.
I asked TEDxKyoto founder Jay Klaphake which of the many good talks at TEDxKyoto was a great example of storytelling, he replied immediately that it was the 2014 talk by Sahel Rosa. Sahel’s presentation is a wonderful example of a presenter using their personal story to (1) shine a spotlight on a social issue, and (2) to make a pitch for people to support her cause.
Narrative medicine as a literary form that engages care providers including physicians to share their witnessed stories of humanity can be an instrumental tool to repeatedly resuscitate the physician. Relationship centered medicine has been considered a way to help doctors stay in love with doctoring and that premise is supported by narrative medicine to help refocus the efforts of medicine around relationships.
Learning storytelling in a group from an experienced storyteller provides an experiential sense of story that can’t be captured with a set of procedural instructions. There are great courses out there. We can learn a lot online…but if we want to understand something as deeply human as storytelling its ideal for humans to interact with other humans.
Here’s why: A story blends emotional, visual, kinesthetic and rational reasoning routines without separating them. Personal stories illuminate insights that are specific to a situation’s people, complexity, texture and relationships. A vibrant true story delivers a hologram of culture, nature, nurture, space and time from an embodied human point of view: WAY more information than a story formated via a hunt and peck search for hero, quest, obstacle, helper and journey.
Welcome to The Outline, a new kind of publication for a new kind of human. We made this thing because we believe that the right story told in the right way can change someone's life. But telling the right stories for right now — and telling them in a way that's meaningful and modern — isn't going to happen by itself. We have to make it happen. No one else can do it for us. So we're doing it. I'm not going to bore you with every tiny detail, but by now it should be rather clear that something is broken in the way the media functions and in what is expected of a media organization. This is not entirely the fault of the news industry, but it's not not the industry's fault. The math of this miscalculation is clear: For far too long the media industrial complex has relied on the crutch of scale and quantity, regurgitative storytelling practices, the strength of other people's technology and ideas, and a skewed view of its own position in the world. And that has been detrimental to the audience and the business alike.
Gregg Morris's insight:
I'm excited about this. Should be darned interesting to follow.
It’s not hard to write a story about a family sitting around the dinner table, or the man on the football pitch, or the child conquering a challenge. But when it comes time to write a blog post about your B2B product, the words don’t seem to flow quite as well.
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of viewing your company blog reader as a faceless logo or flat business card, and the end result is a 400-word advertisement or an instruction manual. If your B2B content marketing is failing to bring in the readers, this might be why.
In search of a solution, I turned to a group of popular bloggers. With millions of page and video views to their names as well as critical acclaim, these powerhouses know a thing or two about writing stories readers love to share. I asked them how they weave brand information into their content and what advice they would offer about the art of storytelling.
In the video above, Will Schoder explains Harmon’s theory using a number of different stories (movies, books, TV shows, etc.) as examples, most notably the original Star Wars, which George Lucas created using Campbell’s ideas.
The first logical question here is why you should try to use storytelling in your marketing strategy. Well, there are several reasons for that.
First of all, stories are interesting. People are curious in nature, and many of them are good listeners. When a narration is genuinely impressive, they are willing to spend a lot of time digging into these stories. In childhood, we love to listen to fairy tales; when we grow up, we hear the stories of our friends. Captivating stories are entertaining for everyone, even asocial people.
Second of all, stories gain trust. Whomever you decide to share your personal stories with, it makes you closer, right? The thing is that storytelling is quite an intimate thing. You don’t tell stories just to anyone. The same as in life, publishing an engaging story on your site will help you become closer to your readers who will come back for more stories.
And finally, people are just more perceptive towards stories, in contrast to dry statistics and facts. Last year there was some research conducted at Pennsylvania University involving physicians that proved this point. The study showed that doctors perceive and remember the information about using anesthetics better if this information is offered in the form of a story about a patient Frank.
Another research study (this time a sociological one), conducted by The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, showed that despite the content itself (whether there are kittens or celebrities), the success of a post is mostly defined by its structure. It turned out that people like stories the most.
We are social creatures who need to compare ourselves to other people, feel a connection to them and put ourselves in their shoes.
Stories provides Instagram users with a chance to share posts at a higher frequency. While Instagram photos are typically reserved for perfectly composed shots, Stories allows you to share the little moments that may not be as picture-perfect.
Instagram is positioning this feature as a solution to over posting. There is a significant separate space where your Instagram Stories live and you can post as frequently as you want without worrying about over flooding your friends’ feeds or filling the grid on your profile page.
If the worst were to happen, are you prepared to act swiftly and protect yourself and your brand?
By understanding your message deeply and thoroughly, you can prepare for certain unpleasant situations. But more importantly, cultivating a corporate crisis management culture will help keep your story consistent and compelling.
Melissa Agnes is passionate about brand crisis management and prevention. She strongly encourages any organization to take the time to delve deep into their core values to learn how to best articulate and follow them. She also suggests a few simple questions to ask before ever launching a campaign or advertisement that might help avoid a crisis altogether.
Melissa takes us on a journey through her career, touching on what led her to this particular niche. She shares why it’s so important to deeply understand what your brand stands for, how speed and accuracy are paramount, and how owning your story and communicating directly will often save the day.
Visual storytelling is one of the most potent forms of communication in existence today. From films and virtual reality experiences to interactive games and data visualizations, visual stories are revolutionizing the way we persuade audiences with our messages.
While brands and marketers have generally lagged behind filmmakers and the media in the visual storytelling department, this is rapidly becoming a thing of the past as marketing shifts from “interrupting what people are interested into becoming what people are interested in,” in the words of Marriott’s VP of content marketing, David Beebe.
As the Internet of Things and wearable tech take us closer to a perpetually connected world, visual storytelling will be all around us. From having conversations with our favorite characters to playing games that will help feed the homeless, these visual storytelling trends will allow us to live within stories of our making and, in the process, blur the lines between reality and fiction.
Restrained only by the pace of technological innovation, here are five visual storytelling trends that will shape the future of all communication-related fields:
The reality is that you have six seconds to tell your brand story and make a connection with your customer. Yes, six seconds. A 6-second window to give your customers, your audience, a reason to care, and a reason to want to learn more about your offer. Success in those six seconds depends on the perceived value that your brand will bring to the customers’ lives: the “Why you do what you do.” This message needs to be always refined through the lens of simplicity, clarity and alignment; the three foundational pillars that a brand story absolutely must have to connect and engage with the customer.
You’ll see how the context, and some subtle changes, alter the emotional response you feel. This post showcases imagination - the readers imagination. How do you inspire imagination? Often by providing fewer details. With less detail, your reader has no choice but to let their imagination will fill in the gaps. Their experiences, emotional state, and passions add meaning to the image. When done right, those emotions can touch passions and strike up anxieties that compel action.
Akira Kurosawa was one of the masters of cinema. Below is a six-minute interview where Kurosawa offers advice to aspiring filmmakers, but the advice can be applied more widely to other creative disciplines as well.
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