The word «storytelling” is quite self-explanatory: storytelling is a strategy that relies on telling stories. For some years now, the concept has been on everyone’s lips because it’s a very efficient technique to inform, publicize, sell or persuade an audience.
But… What Is Storytelling?
The most efficient way to make an audience remember our message is through an interesting story. And this is what storytelling is for: it tells a compelling story that allows the reader to use their imagination while being attentive to what is being said.
However, for those who use it, the most important thing about storytelling it’s not necessarily the story itself but the idea they are trying to convey. This is because storytelling is used primarily as a persuasion tool.
What Is Storytelling Used For?
The goal of storytelling is to reach a broad audience and to get them interested in what we are saying while, at the same time, causing a reaction or effect in that audience. In this way, we can seek, for example, that the public sees a brand as interested in the environment, while we tell them what led the brand to fight for this cause. Or we can get them interested in a new product while we tell them how our life changed because of it.
That’s why, nowadays, storytelling is widely used as a marketing strategy. If we manage to create an emotional bond with our audience through storytelling, we can generate a connection with the public, communicate our values and make them trust us. And ultimately, that’s going to make them buy our product or services.
Think of it this way: as a consumer, what’s more interesting? A photo in which you see the technical characteristics of a new product, or a story in which someone explains how difficult their life was until they thought of designing a product that made everything easier and helped them overcome adversity?
But storytelling is not only about selling a product. Companies use this strategy to try to convey a message that appeals to the audience’s empathy to generate a connection.
3 Cases of Companies that Use Storytelling
Let’s see some examples in which storytelling was used as a marketing strategy, that is, to persuade the audience.
The first case is the TED talk by Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, in which he explains why Airbnb uses design to build trust. To do this, he narrates personal experiences about how he came up with the idea of the app, what difficulties he encountered and how he went about solving them.
The aim of this TED talk is for the audience to see that Airbnb and its users are trustworthy, and Gebbia manages to convey this idea with apparent ease. In addition, he interacts with the audience, making it fun and keeping them on edge.
Another example of storytelling is the 1999 advertisement launched by Nike, which told the story of Michael Jackson through photos and videos, without a single word. In fact, the advertisement doesn’t even mention Nike. The brand’s logo and slogan appear in the lower right corner only at the end of the advertisement.
In this way, Nike was trying to convey to its viewers the idea that anything is possible and that dreams can be fulfilled, which is consistent with the slogan “Just do it” and the image of the brand.
Finally, we have the case of Starbucks, since storytelling can also be longer than a talk or an advertisement. For example, the coffee brand created a show called Upstanders to inspire viewers to be better citizens and to get involved with the community, which is also in line with the brand’s values and image.
The objective of this advertisement is not to talk about the products but to convey the values of Starbucks and to create a bond with the audience.
How to Apply Storytelling?
Doing effective storytelling for marketing takes a lot of practice, creativity, skills, and empathy. These are the steps needed to create a good storytelling strategy.
- Setting the goals: It’s important to know what it is that we want to convey, which are the values, and what reaction we expect from our audience.
- Setting a target audience: It’s also necessary to define our audience in order to know what they expect from us and what they would like to hear so that we can persuade them. Not all audiences are similar, and everyone’s attention is not captured in the same way.
- Choosing a format: We can tell our story orally or in writing; it can be a short advertisement or a longer one; it can be in a digital and interactive format on a website or it can be printed in a magazine.
- Creating the story: The story has to be interesting and it has to be able to capture the audience’s attention. A good story has the following characteristics:
- It’s in line with the brand’s values.
- It’s interesting and authentic.
- It allows the imagination of the audience to fly.
- It interacts with the viewers.
- It includes relevant data.
- It raises a conflict and explains why the brand, product, or service solves it.
- The ending includes some kind of message, moral, or plan of action.
Books on Storytelling
If you are interested in learning more about storytelling, there are many books available on the subject.
Some of them are the following:
- Tell to Win, by Peter Guber.
- Wired for Story, by Lisa Cron.
- Improving Your Storytelling, by Doug Lipman.
- Winning the Story Wars, by Jonah Sachs.
There are also specific courses on storytelling that can help you create a good strategy and, what’s more important, put it into practice.
You can find these available online:
- The Art of Storytelling for Freelancers and Creators, by Sun Yi, available at Domestika
- Storytelling for Business, by Kevin Allison, available in Udemy.
We also recommend attending creative writing courses or workshops, so that your stories can effectively engage your audience.
Hire a Storytelling Writer
Storytelling is not an easy task nor something that can be learned overnight. Luckily, you can always hire an experienced storyteller to do the work.
Here at Palabra, we have editors and writers who can apply storytelling to the marketing strategy of your brand, product, or service. The most important thing for us is to understand the idea we want to convey in order to tell a story that represents you and your brand.
If you are interested in this service, don’t hesitate to contact us:
Translated by: @florabosch