Will it be cliche if I say that everything under the sun has a story behind it? It’s true though. We are all a product of the stories that have shaped us since childhood. Be it grandmama’s bedtime stories or those written by Ruskin Bond, we have all grown up with stories. To date, we are living life by listening to, reading, witnessing, telling, as well as creating multiple stories. We just don’t pay much attention to it. Believe it or not, storytelling is an inevitable part of the world we live in.
When you meet with an incident, you turn to your close ones to tell them everything about it. When you do that, you engage in storytelling. When you start looking up to a person who inspires you, you are more likely to read about their life story. A webinar or workshop that you choose to attend also tells you a story. Further, the coming of social media has opened each one of us to a plethora of stories not just from people across the world, but also from brands. TedX is currently one of the largest storytelling platforms. Multiple festivals revolving purely around storytelling have gained popularity over the years.
Why is that?
It’s simple. Storytelling provides people with a common ground to connect with each other. Humans are all about emotions. When one shares their stories, they bring people closer, develop relationships and bond.
Why do marketers need the skill of storytelling?
We all are storytellers to a certain extent, but those working in a professional space need to develop this art a little more. Professional storytellers must have few key messages in mind to convey to their audience. Facts coupled with a proper narrative amount to a good story. What brands today are doing to reach out to their audience with their products and services are narrating compelling stories inclusive of information, facts, message, emotions and also a solution.
Pick Surf Excel for example. A simple detergent brand has been narrating stories with a common message that has been touching the hearts of customers for years now. Their ‘daag ache hai’ campaign gained immense popularity for multiple reasons. Daag or stains are symbolic of flaws in humans. Surf Exel made audiences believe that flaws are natural and they make humans humans and that flaws can be washed away by doing the right thing. Their ads conveyed this through short stories which mostly featured children. This added a lot of innocence to the story and brought smiles to viewers’ face. This campaign helped the brand in connecting with the audience, showcasing the values the brand stands for and helped build goodwill. Today, Surf Exel has become a household name in the country.
Just like Surf Excel, there are innumerable brands who are narrating compelling stories. Thus, marketers must know the art of storytelling to help businesses expand their customer base. If you are thinking of venturing into the career of marketing, you need to pull up your socks and start polishing your storytelling abilities. Here are few things you need to understand:
Why do you need the skill?
For any business, customers are the most important. Building a connection with them is the first step towards getting customers to trust you and your brand. Narrating the story of the business gives customers a reason to trust you. Besides, storytelling has a recall value. People are more likely to remember a product based on a human story rather than just remembering figures and data. Further, stories always have a personal touch. When marketers narrate a business story to the customers, they create a personal and emotional connection making the customers feel more included and important.
What makes a story engaging?
Authenticity: This is non-negotiable. Everything you say must be factual and true. What you say must reflect in everything your company does.
Informative: The story must educate the audience about the company as well its product and services. A story without any information won’t serve any purpose to the company.
Entertaining: While incorporating facts and information, marketers must ensure that the audience stays engaged in the story. For this to happen, marketers must take help of various storytelling tools like humour, characters, conflict, resolution, emotions, etc.
Relatable to all: The story you narrate about your company and brand must be relatable to all across the world to some level. It shouldn’t just be restricted to a specific group.
Structure: A story must be easy to understand. As a marketer, you need to make sure that the story you put is well organized and structured to serve its complete purpose.
What are the prerequisites of storytelling?
Before you start drafting a story, there are a few things that you must define well.
A message: There must be one clear message that your story needs to convey. You need to identify that message and note it down clearly.
Understanding the audience: Without understanding the audience, you won’t know which nerve to exactly press. To be able to connect with your audiences, you must first understand what they like, dislike, their strengths and weaknesses, their interests, etc. This will help you to effectively communicate with them.
Making the right choice of medium: This will largely depend on the message you wish to send out. Every medium has a different impact on the audience. If you want to let your audiences develop their own imagination based on the story you narrate, it is best you let them read it rather than using visuals like images or videos.
Make sure your story encourages some sort of call to action: While it is difficult to make a sale directly, your story must encourage the audience to take at least some small step like sharing it further among their peers. Make sure you identify the kind of response you wish to drive after narrating the story.
Giant brands like Nike, Google, Apple, McDonald’s, Netflix, Cadbury Oreo, Coca-Cola, etc have been telling compelling stories for years moving customers, making them feel deeply for the brand and connecting with them more than ever using just one common message across various mediums. It is the marketing team that is the brainchild behind bringing these human yet profit-driven stories to life. If you aspire to dive into the world of marketing, you better start narrating stories that move people around you.