A picture paints a thousand words as a good story makes a message easily understandable. There are many advantages for using storytelling techniques. That is why stories play a major role in content marketing today. Stories help putting the human person first, and bring back emotions to the centre. People do not want to be manipulated by a brand anymore, they do not want to hear aggressive advertising, they want to be entertained.
Why do you like so much spending your time watching videos, films, series? Because you like hearing stories!
3 good reasons to tell a story
Stories touch people
Stories allow people to identify themselves and relate to it, but at least they produce emotions. Facts, figures or features are less likely remembered than emotions. Experience is like a permanent maker, once you live it, you stored it in your memory. As they affect people, stories are more likely to be shared. When a story brings out a lot of emotions, the word of mouth effect can be very effective. Just one click on the share button, and your campaign can be viral. In addition, stories are less likely to be resisted. People do not want to hear marketers, but they are willing to spend time hearing stories. Stories activate our brain, and generate oxytocin which make us more sensitive. That is why brands use more and more storytelling techniques as a content marketing strategy.
Stories help make a difference
Let’s take an example with Xbox and PlayStation, those two companies sell exactly the same product (or almost). Imagine they told the same story and only describe the product: “We sell awesome video game console” (I voluntarily exaggerate to make it easy to understand). As a user, how can you possibly make a decision? Storytelling helps you reinforce your positioning. People do not buy products anymore, they purchase experience (I invite you to read my article on user experience that will go much deeper on this point), and telling a story helps you make it possible. As a consumer, I would say your solution is not my problem, but your story could be interesting!
Stories give meaning to information
There is no sense in giving data such as facts, figures, characteristics… Instead, you can just tell a story to give meaning to your audience. You must show people, help them to put themselves into the situation, and mostly, keep their attention! A story is a perfect compromise to make your message unique and keep people’s interest. Visual representation and narrative techniques will improve the quality of your message and its efficiency. A story can make your message more understandable and enjoyable. It helps shaping a path and lead the audience in the right direction, which is for you, to reach a business objective.
Few tips to start storytelling
- Telling a story is an art. You should not think that it is easy. I found an interesting article showing different techniques for engaging a story that I recommend you to read. You should also look at this article showing the elements required for writing a good story.
- Remember your English course when you learnt narrative techniques. Storytelling is based on the same principle. Your story need to have a plot, adventures and a denouement. You need to involve characters, and make things happen. A story is boring if there is no action, or no conflict.
- Do not necessarily respect a strict structure, but you need to be consistent and keep the common theme.
- Make your message enjoyable and easily understandable to be more persuasive. Why should we complicate things when they are simple?
- Make it personal. Because if you are more comfortable with your story, you will be more effective and will convey greater emotions.
- Keep it concise. A good story is not necessarily long. It is even better if you can deliver your message in a short amount of time. Therefore, you will not loose attention, and your message will be more easily memorisable.
- Do not attach to much importance to accessory details, but give enough information to make your story understandable.
- Do not forget to add graphics, interactions, video to strengthen your message: a picture is worth a thousand words.
Where should I tell a story?
Now that you have a clearer vision on what is storytelling, you should ask where should I tell a story. And the answer is simple: you can use these techniques almost anywhere. In a blog, in a video, in a graphic… Storytelling can be adapted to almost any support. In any case, if you just use it in your writing, it might not be enough. Do not forget to add videos, infographics and so on to enrich your content.
Here there are some concrete examples:
- Infographics: it is a visual representation which generally explain a concept or deliver a message. You can find many examples of infographics using storytelling techniques on this excellent article
- Motion design: it is a video with graphic representation which tell a story. I found a great story on addiction in motion design:
- Draw my life: there are videos that generally tell your own story with drawings and a narrative voice. I found an article showing several examples.
- Interactive videos: Tipp-ex made excellent interactive videos in which the user can influence the scenario. This technique is great to involve people. Interactions are even more powerful to keep your audience attention.
There are many other implementation examples, but I will not cover all of them in this article.
Storytelling in a few words
You should consider storytelling as a good practice in your content marketing strategy. You should not think that is an easy job, storytelling is a powerful kind of art but needs to be handled properly. You will certainly need to hire a specialist to be more efficient. Your brand will be perceived differently if you just not tell people what your competitive advantage is. Today, people expect more and more humanity, and they do not buy products anymore, they buy experience, they identify themselves to a brand and they react to emotions. That is why using storytelling techniques will help your company deliver message more effectively.
- Win Your Customers’ Hearts with Storytelling, 2016
- 15 Storytelling Techniques for Amazing Brand Story, 2016
- 8 Classic storytelling techniques for engaging presentations, 2014
- The top storytelling brands, 2014
- 7 Reasons storytelling is important for branded content, 2012
- The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains, 2012