Buzzwords come and buzzwords go, but I have a feeling this one is going to be around for a while. Out meeting clients this month, we’ve talked a lot about “storytelling.”
Google “business storytelling” and you’ll find an explosion of recent features, blogs and articles extolling its virtues and commanding you to get going with it asap if you don’t want your brand or business to be left behind.
To me, storytelling is what good marketing communications has always done. It means engaging with your audience and finding compelling ways to get your messages across in contexts and idioms that they identify with and are drawn to. It’s getting away from internally focused marketing goals and acknowledging that while a list of hard-hitting feature or benefit bullets gets your point across fast, it may not do it in a way that the reader warms to.
The trouble with the “storytelling” label is that it could imply a level of untruth or fantasy as well as a long and tortuous narrative. No-one wants that in their brand communications.
However, there are some great characteristics of storytelling that we can use in almost any customer or employee communications. Consider what will interest the reader and capture their imagination, from their standpoint. Think of your favourite anecdotes, tales or even novels and why they’re so good – it would be great if all our communications were unputdownable. Some of the things that make a good story are drama, believability, a level of emotional empathy and shared personal experience, a narrative that hangs together and is easy to follow, satisfying and distinctive characters and a style of writing we enjoy.
Short videos and animations are more popular than ever, because they both describe and illustrate a story in an engaging way. Case studies, success stories, company history, vision and product journeys all lend themselves well to written or multimedia communications with character and passion. A good writer can help you script or document your stories engagingly and using powerful language and imagery, so they stick in the mind for all the right reasons.
Detachment isn’t a virtue any more. Customers and employees want to know about how and why you do things as well as the bare bones of your skills and competencies.
Read more about what storytelling can do and find some interesting links from the Content Marketing Institute here.