by Robert Cook
Everyone appreciates a good story. Great stories get retold again and again. Wouldn’t it be great if your marketing message could be so engaging, that it could be repeated by word of mouth? That can happen by using storytelling techniques in your campaign.
Storytelling is our earliest form of human communication. Fairy tales, fables, and life’s lessons are valued narratives that can secure a higher level of retention, especially when the context of the story includes the listener. A well-told story invites the listener and allows his acceptance of an alternate reality in the form of fiction that easily parallels his experiences or dreams.
Truth in fiction
Modern advertising is full of storytelling of all kinds. Some are outrageous, sarcastic, sweet and, when well done, memorable. Think of the insurance commercials on television that have created characters from talking lizards to “Mayhem” jumping up and down on a tree limb until it breaks through the roof. Or financial institutions with rampaging barbarians and cell phones with video game story lines. With so many reality-based programs on television today, some of the best storytelling takes place during the commercial breaks.
Some tips on telling your story
Every business has a story to tell. Even though some stories are scripted, they can resonate with a truth often made clearer through fiction. Here are a few tips to consider in telling your story.
- Be real. Be true to the message. It’s okay to embellish, but truth is the better path, even through fiction.
- Be relevant. Know your listener and make the story as inclusive as possible. Let him see himself in the story.
- Be sincere. Encourage empathy, involve humor and steer a positive course.
- Be efficient. Make the story short and unimposing to maintain interest
- Be visual. Engaging imagery adds substance to the story.
In addition to these simple suggestions, take notice of how other businesses tell their stories. The variety of techniques is endless. But there should be something in your unique story that sheds a light on the creative path your expression should go with. It can be a little scary to put your business “up front” with such a performance, but those that do find the courage have a greater opportunity for successfully connecting with a greater number of customers.
Where can you tell your story?
Social media offers many platforms beyond the traditional channels of marketing. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube are free. Google and American Express are having a contest called “My Business Story”
Small businesses are encouraged to enter a video to tell their big story. The deadline is coming up soon, November 15, so you can enter or just see and hear the stories of others. At least look for some inspiration on how to express your unique business story.
Narrative is a great tool to share your message. An emotional connection is made easier with a story than a bulleted list of facts. Benefits are understood in the context of a story. Whether you choose a low-budget, do-it-yourself approach, or you decide to seek professional partners to plan a campaign, your story belongs to you and your listeners. With today’s competition and economic volatility, a unique value proposition presented with the power of narrative can reach further into the mind of a customer.
And the exceptional stories have the power to engage the customer’s heart. That is where loyalty resides.