Chapter 1: Why we 💗 storytelling

It's National Storytelling Week, to celebrate we're waxing lyrical about the way excellent, creative and thoughtful storytelling can take your marketing from an 8 to a 10. Each day this week, we'll regale you with our ideas, thoughts, experiences and that of experts in the field to help you craft the best kind of story for your audience.

Chapter 1 ~ Why storytelling? 

Relationships. They’re important, right? From your relationship with your parents and family, to your relationships with friends, and also your partner. We can all agree that forming and maintaining close, positive relationships is essential to our wellbeing.

But what does that have to do with storytelling, you ask? A great deal, actually. As marketers, we understand that people connect with a good story, which means stories are essential to any comms and content. We understand that it is our job to provide the right content at the right time in the right place. By missing the mark on any of these, we run the risk of damaging our relationship with our audience – old and new. And there you have it, that word again: relationship.

At Crystlsd, our entire modus operandi is anchored around storytelling. No matter the specifics of your marketing or PR campaign, or the life-stage of your organisation, engaging your audience is always the first priority. Laura Rothwell, Crystlsd Founder, comments "if you don't know what story you're telling, be that about your organisation overall or about a specific project, product or campaign, you're going to have a very difficult time convincing, motivating or inspiring anyone else outside of your organisation." 

Content should address the needs and interests of your audience on both a rational and emotional level.
— Kathrin Opielka

Kathrin Opielka, for Storm ID, writes that “content should address the needs and interests of your audience on both a rational and emotional level and help you engage with your audience from the very first point of contact with your brand.” It is all fine and well connecting with people rationally; this helps your audience to understand what it is you would like them to do. But, if they’re not emotionally engaged, it isn’t enough to encourage a change in behaviour.

Effective storytelling can inspire us, alter our opinions and demonstrate how we can make positive changes in our lives. It can motivate us to do something. That ‘something’ could be sharing a Facebook campaign; it could be buying tickets to an event, or making a donation to a cause; even signing up for a newsletter. Whatever the action, your consumer has been motivated through storytelling. Pretty powerful, if you ask us.

Stories, we hasten to add, are not a one-size-fits-all job. Stories can, however, (broadly speaking) be placed into one of four categories: entertain; inspire; educate; convince. We will delve deeper into each of the four categories in subsequent chapters but, for now, here’s an overview…

 Inspirational stories can be the most powerful in your marketing playbook.

Inspirational stories can be the most powerful in your marketing playbook.

Stories to: Inspire

verb

1.    Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative

2.    Create (a feeling, especially a positive one) in a person

Inspirational stories usually reach your audience on a similarly emotional level to entertaining ones. The key difference? Your audience will usually be further along on the journey towards your end goal.

Stories to: Entertain

verb

1.    Provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment

2.    Give attention or consideration to (an idea or feeling)

We, as marketers, can engage our audience by entertaining them. This method of storytelling is especially useful when trying to convert those who might not have heard of your brand yet, or who haven’t associated your product or service with a solution to a problem they might have. Some great examples of ‘entertain’ content are branded videos, competitions and viral campaigns.

 Arts and culture organisations especially must incorporate stories to Educate into their marketing 

Arts and culture organisations especially must incorporate stories to Educate into their marketing 

Stories to: Educate

verb

1.    Give (someone) training in or information on a particular subject

Stories that serve an educational purpose are often less emotionally charged than those aiming to entertain or inspire. The aim, here, is to offer your audience a solution to any challenges they might have come up against. That solution should involve your product or service. Storytelling in PR is an excellent example of educating consumers vicariously through journalists.

Stories to: Convince

verb

1.    Cause (someone) to believe firmly in the truth of something

2.    Persuade (someone) to do something

Facts. Figures. Testimonials. These are all examples of rational content that will convince your audience to believe in your brand story. You’ve piqued their interest; you’ve made an emotional connection with them; now, it’s time to tie everything up with a lovely bow. Some of the best ‘convince’ pieces often take the form of case studies, profiles or, with Apple for example, real people using their products in real life.

A successful brand or campaign requires a good mix of all four types of storytelling. By providing consistent, but varied, content you are reinforcing your brand values, allowing your audience to slot themselves into the story.