Sometimes reality is too complex for us. Stories do a great job of giving meaning that can be remembered. Let me ask you a simple question. How do you make your ideas more compelling? Even if your message is true and important, it’s hard to reach a general audience with facts alone. Improve with better storytelling stories. Make them memorable – stories have the remarkable power to captivate and inspire people.
Do you like to hear a great story? How about telling stories? Great storytelling. They can be a fantastic way to spread ideas. Facts are meaningless without a contextual story. Don’t tell facts to influence, tell stories. The more you improve storytelling, the more your influence … it is as simple as that.
The truth is that every business has a story to tell – even if they don’t know it – and that’s where improving your storytelling becomes very important.
Related post: Adapting to Major Changes in the Social Media Climate
Here are seven ways that will improve telling your stories to make your marketing stand out from the crowd, plus some excellent examples to learn from:
Storytelling stories … use personalization
What makes you stand out? What uniqueness can you exploit to make you more visible, get people’s attention and give them something to relate to? Giving your business that personal story and building in your personal touch will make it truly memorable.
Take the Mast Brothers. Have you ever heard of these guys? You likely will soon. They make chocolate. They craft it and pour themselves into every step of the process. And it shows. They are quirky with strong personal style. And, more than any other chocolate manufacturer, they are totally dedicated to producing top quality, luxury, handcrafted chocolate. They made a video to tell the story about themselves, what they do, and how and why they do it.
The video ticks all the boxes: it demonstrates their uniqueness, it’s beautiful to look at, it shows personality, it’s engaging, and it takes the audience on a journey. And I, for one, couldn’t wait to get hold of one of their chocolate bars after seeing it.
Create a point
Every story should have a point. How often have we been regaled with high drama and intricate detail, only to have no payoff? Most of us have seen The Wizard of Oz and can sing out in unison Dorothy’s final words in the story, “There’s no place like home.” Without that, and without her realization of what she values, her adventures are all for naught. Make sure you have a payoff in your own stories.
Storytelling stories examples … employ dynamics in storytelling
Be dynamic with your storytelling. Nothing is more important to narrative content than imagination and the ability to create curiosity. Give vivid descriptions and use emotional hooks and curiosity to get people fully engaged. Be creative, not only with words and images, but also with the methods you use to convey them. Don’t be traditional. Be edgy.
Here is an example from “The Waffle Shop” in Pittsburgh, PA. Part of a trend to support performance art within the urban core, it is run by college students. The shop brought together people from all walks of life united by the draw of their live streaming talk shows and their waffles.
The shows were shot in the middle of their busy restaurant and included “Waffle Wopp” for teenagers with live music and fun interviews. Anyone could take part in these shows. The aim was to produce a creative non-profit and for-profit combination model with social impact to stimulate local public dialogue, while simultaneously generating revenue to sustain itself. They had runaway success, too, so much so that the experiment became a permanent fixture.
Develop your story in ways and formats that appeal to your target audience and make it easy for them to share. Take advantage of the full range of media with potentially global reach that the internet has to offer. Think apps, videos, audio, and images for high level engagement, and ALWAYS give your audience the opportunity and incentive to share easily.
Whatever techniques you use to tell your story, always factor in the nuances of those particular platforms, as the things an audience expects and how they interact differ vastly depending on the arena.
The first time I saw Apollo 13 I was on the edge of my seat asking the question: “Will they make it back?” On the edge of my seat, I watched as the characters struggled, toiled, prayed to get the astronauts home.
Then I took a step back…:”Wait. I was there when this really happened. They make it back!” So what compels me to watch the remainder of this film every time it comes on? Ron Howard has the uncanny ability to make the audience care about what happens to the characters. Whether it is through riveting soundtrack, poignant conversations between husband and wife, or struggles between colleagues, we care.
Create stories that cause us to feel, to empathize, and to understand are critical. Emotion should be created in every facet of the story: words, images, voice and music. That should be your objective.
Most of us are blessed with a plethora of creative ways to convey our message and get people involved. Interactive content offers a much more open-ended platform through which to tell stories and get people highly engaged.
Your audience can be involved in the stories you create as part of your narrative. They even can be the central characters. This can be seen working particularly well across social media where campaigns often seek to involve individuals in this way.
Ask your audience members to tell their own narratives, and then intertwine them with your own. This makes them feel valued and also gives something back by involving them as part of something bigger. And it gives them a place to return to on your site again and again. Let them share their experiences with your brand through product usage ideas, advice and tips, and, of course, success stories.
A great example of this kind of strategy can be seen at the Google website. Google wields the awesome power of their customer success stories with style. Their “Google Apps for Business” webpage (below) features a photo collage of happy customers.
Through sharing their stories, Google’s clients actually are doing all the marketing legwork for them, enticing new customers to be part of their exclusive Google business community full of real people who have experienced real success.
Amazing engagement technique, yes?
Make the audience care
Whenever I am fortunate enough to see and listen to remarkable stories being told ‘live’ in action, I am struck by their power to pull listeners in, much like a gravitational force that’s impossible to resist.
The best way to pull your audience in is to make them care … emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically. But how do you make the audience care? This is the most fundamental question of all. There is no single answer. One important answer is having empathy for your audience and trying to craft your story and design your content always with the audience in mind.
You may be wondering
Stories in all their many forms are never just about transferring information alone. We are emotional beings, like it or not, and to make the audience care enough to listen to you, you have to evoke in them some kind of emotion. See our article on the Guinness storytelling strategy in this regard.
Have a central theme
Cohesion is vital to successful storytelling. Simply collecting a bunch of stories without much consistency is a quick way to lose the interest of your audience. You must have a strong central narrative theme to tie them all together. The theme should support your core values, goals, and vision.
So what does this mean in practical terms? Well, rather than thinking of each storytelling campaign as an individual tale, think of them as stand-alone elements sheltered beneath a pervasive umbrella theme. In other words, the umbrella is the core that distinctly unifies all the stories built around the experience you want your audience to have.
Thinking of your story strategy in this way gives you an incredible amount of freedom with your content. As long as your content follows the same theme, storytelling will bind it together.
For example, in the recent “live positively” campaign by Coca-Cola, all of the content is based around the “live positively” theme. The scope for content that fits within that umbrella is endless, which means they are never short of ideas.
Incorporating such a wide range of topics shows their versatility as a brand and gives them a multitude of ways to connect with their audience, thus widening their appeal. In this particular instance, the folks at Coca-Cola also cleverly have positioned themselves as having a very human, caring side. This draws attention away from any bad publicity over negative health issues regarding their products, and instead, develops their reputation and association with positivity and vitality. That’s very sharp on their part, isn’t it and you can make the strategy work for you too.
The bottom line
Great storytelling and stories are a very integral part of being engaging with your community. If you want to engage your customers and create a memorable experience at the same time, you must master the psychology of storytelling. Give them a try today.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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