WHERE ART & SCIENCE COMBINE TO CONNECT EMOTIONS AND ENGAGE AUDIENCES.
Stories are experiences, when telling a story, the storyteller relives the experience and invite others to share it. In his book “story proof” by Kendall Haven, he states that human beings reliance on story through the ages has rewired the human brain in such a way that it is now predisposed to think in terms of a story. It’s how the brain creates meaning and this disposition is continually strengthened through the hearing and telling stories (Haven, 2007).
The key takeaway is that there is always a story to tell and genuine stories can add credibility to a business/brand. Every organisation has the raw materials intrinsic for the creation of a good story and when put together they can form a communication medium to communicate corporate culture, ideals and product knowledge. Knowing how to put together and collect these stories and communicate them is a skill that not only benefits marketing, but also, customer engagement, customer loyalty, corporate culture and staff.
Why is storytelling relevant for business?
Recently I came across the concept of storynomics by Robert McKee, otherwise known as corporate storytelling. A fascinating concept which looks at how people have interacted through the ages and how in today’s fast-paced, global and ultra-competitive business environments, it still has relevance and could perhaps be the key to competitive advantage.
Essentially it makes the case that storytelling should be part of every corporate arsenal, for use across nearly all aspects of its business. It has the ability to influence culture, build a brand, encourage teamwork and spur innovation, all through connecting individual interest groups.
The story doesn’t need to be long or comprehensive, it can be small consisting of six words, a tweet (120 characters), a book or even a movie. It must however always be consistent, clear and have an agenda (beneficial to the company). Done correctly, it can spread a message far more effectively than through traditional marketing methods, this is done through ensuring that the content is emotionally charged, novel and memorable. According to Robert Ballard a successful story will inform, educate and inspire – all attributes that any marketing department would extol in their campaigns.
We are the stories we tell, but we sometimes lose track of this. When was the last time you took a step back and did a self-audit on yourself or your business – are you where you expected to be, where you wanted to be, or in a lot of cases, just plain confused? As humans we are geared towards learning and the telling of experiences through stories is one way to share your knowledge which allows for engagement and understanding.
My argument is that through successful storytelling (using your marketing department) you have a much better opportunity to cut through the clutter and reach your intended audience in a more meaningful way. This is easier said than done, however, if you consider companies that have done it right, such as the ever exalted Apple – everybody knows their story, the company’s customers have an emotional connection with its products, it has a loyal customer base and as its very own following (fan boys/tribes) which sings the company’s praises through testimonials, comments and recommendations on the company and its products (usually in a positive way). In many ways Steve Jobs, who amongst all his faults was an excellent communicator and visionary, and certainly knew how to tell a story and work an audience. He proved that by making an emotional connection with customers you can turn about the fortunes of the business.
How does storytelling apply to you and your business?
With storytelling, it is important that a customer is the hero not the product you are trying to push. Through focusing on how you can enable customers to attain their own goals (through use of your products), you create the desire and interest to encourage them to buy and stay loyal. To help with this you can put the spotlight on your customers, tell their story through testimonials, comments and recommendations. Obviously it will have to be monitored and you may need to react to issues or opportunities as they arrise however, one started the benefits of storytelling don’t just stop at marketing.
There is an opportunity to use storytelling to directly influence the culture of a business, it can bring together people under a common umbrella (such as a company objective/goal) and make them feel part of a community who can/must work together and cooperate to attain their goals. With support from management such a “story” can motivate and increase levels of satisfaction throughout all departments. Interesting to note is that storytelling is becoming ever more important during the recruitment stage for the employer, when a particular skill set is in demand it could be that the right story is the key deciding factor for a candidate to accept a role within the company. This is also applicable to retaining staff as it can foster loyalty, motivation and employee actualisation.
How can I get started?
Copyright Jerry Crowley 2016.
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