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How Storytelling boosts your Marketing Strategy
A story by the campfire. At Grandma’s. With Coffee and cake. A little gossip with the colleague. A chat here and there… . We all love stories! Stories that enchant us. Stories that make us cry. Stories that shock us. Stories that inspire us. Telling stories is of great importance in human evolution, as it has been used for centuries to convey knowledge, warn of dangers or announce important events. Therefore it is no longer a secret that many economic experts also rely on the power of “storytelling”.
But what is the actual magic formula of good storytelling? Is it a purely trend that will soon die out? Just a hyped “Buzzword“, which is on everyone’s lips? Or is storytelling really an indispensable marketing element?… .
What does storytelling mean?
By “storytelling” we mean, well… obviously as the name suggests, telling stories. To be a little bit more precise :
Storytelling describes a form of communication to convey information, knowledge, values and opinions. This can be done through language, text, images or videos. The aim is to pack content into stories and thus arouse emotions and interest in listeners, readers or viewers. The addressees should follow the story and ultimately be able to better identify themselves with the product or company they are dealing with.
Hereby, we do not refer to a long drawn-out, Oscar-worthy film adaptation of a bestseller novel. No, even the simplest idea can be communicated as a story, arouse compassion, arouse emotions, inspire and impress. It is important that the listener is actively involved in the story. Storytelling can strengthen the brand enormously, because a good story remains in the recipient’s memory for a long time and thus also the message of the company.
Our brain loves stories
For the “Sheldon Coopers” among the readers, here is a small scientific excursion, because storytelling has indeed been serving as a fundamental pattern of human thought for a long time.
Who doesn’t know it: A 60-minute business presentation with statistics after statistics. A monotonous monologue at the same time. The coffee cup has already been drunk after the first slide. One breathes deeply towards the end. We at Ceverclip don’t value these dry and monotonous presentations anyway. But even more important: Your audience doesn’t either.
Storytelling and its effects
The aim of storytelling is to stimulate the brain waves in such a way that we can reach the customer emotionally with our message. Because statistics, data and boring lectures only activate the analytical part of the brain. But when we hear stories, our brain reacts differently than when we just look at an Excel spreadsheet. In addition to the analytical, the biographical (narrative) memory, which categorizes our experiences emotionally, is also activated.
Apart from the Language Centre (Wernicke Centre and the Broca Area), the associative thinking, which processes sensory impressions, and other parts of our brain in which love, pain and the ability to empathise are stored, is also addressed. Stories also influence a number of messenger substances: We laugh. We cry. We sweat. Through messenger substances we form new connections that enable us to store events better in our long-term memory. Thus, from a scientific point of view, storytelling functions on two levels: On the one hand it enables a long-lasting learning effect and on the other hand it creates a stronger connection to the audience through the emotions addressed.
Or explained simplified: Listeners can put themselves in a much better position in a story and thus understand and remember it more easily. And for this reason “storytelling” is also particularly effective in marketing.
The Question “Why”?
Imagine you could wrap these dry and tedious lectures into an exciting story. Imagine that the audience would even listen to you voluntarily. Imagine that the audience would even be willing to spend money on it. And all that is possible. If you communicate it properly – through storytelling. Storytelling gives your products the decisive kick to position themselves in such a way that they are remembered by your customers through emotional bonding.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – these are the words of Simon Sinek, who defined the concept of the “Golden Circle”. According to Sinek, most companies emphasize in their communication the “what” – what they do or what they sell. But the crucial question is after the “Why?” – “Why do you do what you do? The answer to this question reveals the core of every story. It enables the story to inspire or emotionally connect people with a product or brand.
But why is it that important? Well, just like a boring presentation or an Excel spreadsheet, the “what” questions activate the purely analytical part of the brain. But when we talk about the “why”, we communicate with feelings and human behavior. With emotions. With inspiration. Only in this way we do succeed in establishing long-term contact with our customers.
Classical advertisements seldom arrive effectively these days. On the contrary: TV advertising is used as a good time to take care of the household. The sound is quickly muted. And the flood of stimuli on the web often results in “banner blindness”. We like to hear stories instead. Voluntarily. Stories create credibility. Stories create a “personality”. Stories transport information more effectively.
“Tell me a story”… That may be harder than it sounds. We say so. Why? Well, anyone can tell a story. But will it captivate the audience and convert us to a prospective J.K. Rowling? Questionable. Because “storytelling” is not always “storytelling”. It already had its reasons during school times why one student could shine with a “A +”, while his neighbor had to be content with “sufficient” (No, we don’t mean the favorite principle of some educators; unfortunately, it exists as well). But if you paid attention during your curriculim lessons at school, you might remember the dramaturgical elements we can derive from Aristotle’s three-act structure.
This is still used today as an important guide for building stories, regardless of whether it is a blockbuster, a Hollywood production, an exciting podcast or a fantasy novel. After already emphasizing the structure with the help of the “Golden Circle”, further elements should not be missing in your business story:
- The hero’s journey: Use characters that allow the viewer to become part of the story and identify with them. The characters form the link between the storyteller and the audience. The best stories in marketing tell about real people who could be customers of a brand.
- The conflict: Create the necessary tension that captivates the audience, captivates them and builds emotional dynamism. Without conflict, you’re not telling a story, just a simple statement. Without a conflict, your audience will not be able to participate interactively.
- The solution: Every conflict requires a solution. Remember: It doesn’t always have to be a happy ending. But the audience must be given a context to process the story emotionally. Therefore, make sure to complete the story and include a “call to action” for your audience.
- Last but not least: Advertising and the actual brand should always remain in the background. As soon as the focus shifts back to marketing, storytelling loses its magic and is only perceived as classic advertising.
If you follow all the tips, including the Golden Circle structure and dramaturgical structure, you will achieve effective storytelling for your marketing.
Conclusion: Why you should consider storytelling
Still asking yourself: “Is storytelling effective for my marketing?”. Well, then a clear answer: Yes!
If you still want to be credible as a company today, you actively have to incorporate dramaturgy into your marketing mechanisms. This is the only way you can inspire your audience and win them over to your side. Classic advertising is no longer effective. The goal is to create deep trust with the customer and to represent yourself as a positive hero.
And as we have all have learned now, the best stories create an emotional bond and remain in the viewer’s memory long after the story has been told. Isn’t that just the perfect recipe for your marketing strategy… ?
At least one thing is clear: If your products and brand don’t tell stories today, they’ll be history tomorrow.