Storytelling: An Ultimate Guide to a Powerful Marketing Tool
Last updated on July 12th, 2021
You don’t have to be a Hemingway or Oscar Wilde of your era to be a good storyteller. Being humans, it’s in our DNA to develop stories. For centuries, people have been communicating and sharing information using the art of storytelling. While stories have been widely used in a captivating way to inspire others, gain knowledge and widen our imaginations, someone might consider that storytelling is a process that can be learned quickly.
Contrary to this approach, storytelling is an art. To be effective at this skill, you must have a good sense of imagination, vision and only after constant practice will you carve yourself into a vibrant storyteller.
What is storytelling?
Storytelling is a process of using your narrative with facts and examples to communicate your prospective message to the audience, focusing on what you stand for to the message and values you share with your listeners. Although it is a centuries-old skill, stories are still being used as an effective and powerful marketing tool by businesses and brands to strengthen their bond with their potential audience and clientele.
Storytelling is an art and an artist understands the basics of his skill and imagines the possibilities to further embellish his artwork with an untiring rehearsal by developing his art around various domains. Painters, sculptors, and even carpenters transform their ideas and thoughts into their work, devising their processes to make their products.
The Storytelling technique
Storytelling has many key elements that do not fulfill its basic purpose: to convey a message or a narrative by engaging listeners.
The main focus of a story is not you but your listeners. At the end of the day, they should be the ultimate characters of a story to foster a bond between you and your audience.
To convey an effective narrative through your story, you must incorporate characters, conflict, setting, and a closing into your brand’s story.
A character is one of the most significant elements of a story through which your audience relates to your core message. Characters are the funnels and bridges that build a connection between the storyteller, the audience, and ultimately, the story. If your audience can manage to put themselves in the shoes of a character, you have already achieved the first goal of your story.
A setting is actually a stage for characters on which their performance is visualized and the story is crafted. For example, in a play of theatre, actors and performers offer their play on the stage. Although the play is being displayed by actors, it is the stage that provides them the room to do so. Similarly, a setting is a set of building blocks of a story that reinforce the development of the idea offered by the characters. Without the setting, characters will fail to formulate their concepts, and the story’s structure will be dismantled.
Conflict is the essence of a story and without this element, the story can not trigger emotions in the hearts of any audience. How you draw the emotions out of listeners and make them relate themselves to an experience is the main motto of a story. If you don’t teach and educate your audience by making them psychologically engaged, then you are not telling a story.
Every effective story has a productive closing. It doesn’t matter whether it ends in a good way or bad. It is your message that matters in the end. If you conclude your story with a specific call to action, you have already fulfilled the purpose of your story.
A good story has to be entertaining as well as educational at the same time. You need to adopt a more universal approach to attract listeners from every background, ethnicity, and culture. Your story needs to be organized in your thoughts to make it more memorable.
Make effective presentations using the storytelling approach
Presentations are not easy to make and they need a significant investment of time and resources to be presented successfully. No one would want to risk the goal of a presentation by following a defective and unplanned approach.
Your content has significance too but if your way of presenting this well-crafted piece of information is not suitable, your message will be neglected and people will lose interest during your presentation.
According to a recent study, 65 to 70% of the people will remember and get influenced by the presenter who uses the storytelling approach compared to a person who uses boring statistics and charts resulting in only 6 to 7% of the people who will ultimately respond to his call to action.
Storytelling in business presentations can activate up to seven brain parts of humans
Making it easier for us to actually process and experience the ideas being presented.
We can bring all the important data and content to life by using storytelling in presentations resulting in a more enjoyable and personal experience.
Either you are going to represent your business or brand in front of potential clients or you wish to excel in your personal career in a company, being a good storyteller, you will always be going places.
To be effective at this technique, some storytelling presentation ideas have been mentioned below that will help you get your desired results speedily.
Your opening will be a decisive factor in your further success during a presentation. You can either lose the interest of a listener or make them more attentive by just starting with a remarkable opening that will stimulate curiosity in the minds of the audience.
Every great writer, marketer, or businessman should spend much of his time writing a magnetic opening because it will provide your listeners with a hook and they will want to find out more about your presentation topic. Learning how to start a presentation using the storytelling approach can make a significant difference.
Work on your visuals
Your visuals are equally important as the written content you are going to present, or even the speech. According to a recent survey, you have almost 8 seconds to capture the attention of the audience while starting a public speech. Using infographics, pictures and videos will help you reinforce your ideas and concepts with visually appealing elements making it easier for people to understand them.
Being personal can help you get your desired results more effectively. When you use practical scenarios with some emotional touch with which your listeners can relate themselves, you are already ahead of the game.
Be concise while avoiding clichés
You need to be more selective in your words and thoughts and present them in a concise way to let the audience absorb more of your content. Avoiding clichés is necessary while depicting a specific concept because they can ruin a perfectly going presentation by diverting the audience’s attention from the main topic.
Role of a storyteller in engaging audience
A presenter who knows how to hit the pain points and target the issues faced by the audience with a proper selection of words and stories can be defined as a storyteller.
Nothing in a marketing or business presentation can be as effective as providing a more realistic and fact-driven approach. You can be the next Grant Cardone or Tony Robbins if you master this single skill. But it is not something you can learn overnight by grasping a single course. If you are willing to indulge in marketing, you will have to go through a long and consistent process of learning the art of storytelling to resonate with your audience’s interests.
Being a good storyteller, you can simplify concrete and complex concepts. You can explain any technical subject and non-tangible concept with this powerful marketing tool. Just like a teacher who tells stories to explain difficult math and science problems to make them more understandable.
Despite being culturally and demographically apart, stories speak a universal language to which every listener can respond and hence making it a globally accepted process that every storyteller can follow. You don’t need to be an African to influence an African audience. Just speak with the relatable casual examples with a touch of observable facts and you are good to go.
When your brand or business inspires a listener, you can motivate them to be a loyal customer that will keep generating business for you consistently. As a storyteller, you need to be more authentic and transparent with your audience to connect your audience with your brand and the people behind them.
Storytelling actionable tips
Great leaders and business owners, whether it is their normal discussion or business plan, use certain actionable storytelling tricks that anyone can use to embellish his public speech and nurture his business presentation. There is no rocket science in learning how to be an extraordinary influencer. You just need to practice the following tips and you will conquer the field of marketing with the sharpness and uniqueness of your storytelling approach.
Tip #1. Follow a clear message
It is important to follow the clear purpose of your story while delivering it. You don’t want to get off the track by getting carried away from the main topic. This will send a message to your audience that you are not sure of what you are trying to say. So to build a confident presence on stage and also to manage a certain element of credibility, stay focused on a single purpose around which you are going to build your story.
Tip #2. Involve conflicts in your story
Your audience gets the message through the main character of your story. And, your character gets stronger if it faces certain challenges and difficulties to reach its desired goal. It doesn’t matter if he succeeds or not, you should at least involve dramatic events that will eventually conclude your story referring to a certain call to action. Without conflict, your audience will fail to see the element of personalized struggle and emotions contained by the character and setting of the story. You need to embrace the conflict to become a good storyteller.
Tip #3. Build a proper structure
You will have to follow a proper structure, to be good at storytelling. Having an exciting beginning, engaging middle, and satisfying end will make you sound more astonishing. You can start with a curious or funny statement (depending on the content of the story), build a climax in the middle, and ultimately finish the story with a productive resolution.
Tip #4. Learn from the masters
We all have been observing and listening to many great speakers throughout our lives. Whether it is on TV, our phone, or any physical interaction, many influencers spark motivation in us and we tend to follow their footsteps naturally. Storytelling can also be learned from the existing masters of this skill who have been crafting and polishing this skill for years. This will give us more practical insight into this amazing tool.
Practical examples of storytelling
Storytelling is a practical tool and has been used by brands and businesses for centuries in their marketing campaigns and building a better reputation.
Many great businesses humanize their marketing strategies by using their narrative through a storytelling approach.
Airbnb is a well-known brand for its lodging and tourism activities. By using consumer data and focusing on the feedback of their consumers, Airbnb strives to serve its global clientele through the best customer experience. In a recent campaign, they mentioned that almost 550,000 tourists with their families chose them for their stay during new year’s eve in New York. This gave them a massive boost in sales in the following year, indicating a record rise in business since the last 5 years. Hence, relating to a global event triggered the emotions of people to use the services of Airbnb for their recreation purposes.
The Tech conglomerate Apple is also another great example of a brand that uses stories to highlight the benefits of its products. In their first launches, Apple was facing difficulties in marketing their products as it was difficult to make people understand the features of emerging technology. After extensive research, they focused on a story that highlighted the following slogan:
“You can keep and listen to hundreds of songs on this Apple device compared to your causal cassette tape”.
Surprisingly, this slogan became very famous among the American youth at that time and the sales of apple skyrocketed that year. By interconnecting the benefits of their products to the problems faced by people, Apple managed to become one of the most celebrated and recognized brands in history.
By cooperating with gettyimages, they made a separate collection of images focusing on the real population of their clients. Furthermore, they started a social media campaign focusing on the products mainly for plus-sized women. Thus they made a real connection between themselves and their audience by positioning their prospective clients on a position they deserve. This helped the brand to outrank its competition and became a popular choice for women in America.