So, as I’m sat in my local Caffé Nero, (a regular haunt for said coffee addict!) the festive decorations are a glimmer and I’m eyeing up a piece of red velvet cake that well and truly has my name on it! As the world goes by around me, I affectionately watch a loving Granny and Grandad cosy up with their granddaughter armed with a bounty of books of a chocolate brownie or two! Aside from serious cake envy, I watch them snuggling in for a version of ‘The Tiger who came to tea’, and it got me thinking about the powerful impact of storytelling, its capacity to engage and inspire and the impact this has in life and indeed business.
Telling stories is part of our DNA, to connect, entertain and share important information. Stories have been inspiring and shaping us for centuries way back to our caveman ancestors. Today it’s the reason we love watching movies or TV, why we exchange our latest personal adventures with friends over a cuppa or check our Facebook and Instagram story updates!
Words are our most powerful tools, they have crushed souls and built empires.
Forming some of my fondest childhood memories, I recall the enchanting stories of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and the pleas for just “one more chapter” of Malory Towers before my Mum said goodnight. And who could forget those nights round the bonfire at brownie camp or the time my Step Dad scared us out of our wits recalling the severed head on the car roof story! Cheers for that Mark!
But bonfires and boarding schools aside, stories are powerful on so many levels. You don’t forget them. So how then can we embrace this art in the workplace to tell our brand stories in a more empowering way? How do we get back to the art of narrative and shake off what has often become the tendency to formalise, professionalise and ‘statisise’ content to the extent it becomes…. well a bit dull.
Afterall storytelling forms a crucial part of some of the most successful marketing campaigns out there, creating vibrant brands and loyal customers.
Think Innocent smoothies. They do this brilliantly, telling their start up story of selling smoothies at a festival and asking customers to vote with their empties in yes or no bins as to whether they should quit their day jobs and start the business full time. Lucky for them the bin was a resoundingly full yes and the rest is pretty much history, but you can see how sharing this instantly makes them so much more memorable. And this playfulness extends throughout all their copy whether you call their ‘banana phone’ line or mail them at ‘fruit towers’. It’s fun and colourful – just like their brand.
With advances in technology and the rise of social media, we have all become our own curators, editors and publishers of content. The world is certainly noisier and more distracting making it hard to stand out. Maybe a banana phone might help us avoid slipping up (sorry couldn’t resist!!) or alternatively you could put some zest into your content with a few of our top storytelling tips……
- Know your audience – Know who you are addressing with your topic and make sure the content is relevant to them.
- Define your core message – think about what you want your readers to feel, and the action you would like them to take from reading your content. It should be clear and concise enough for even a child to repeat. To help define this try to summarise your story in 6 to 10 words.
- Keep it real – Humans connect with humans. Tell your story like you talk. Be open, make it personal, share experiences people can relate to. Think about being down your local pub chatting to a friend!
- Make them colourful – Have a beginning, middle and end. Provoke an emotional reaction and appeal to your audience’s lifestyle and interests.
- Go behind the scenes – You might have a great product or service to sell but that ain’t going to make a good story! Dig a bit deeper. There will be all sorts of stories to be shared about the business or individuals that are much broader than just the product or service you sell and help give people more of an insight and connection into you and your world. Afterall it’s the reason Instagram stories is so popular!
- Choose your medium – there are so many ways to communicate your story. Why stick to the written form when there is the option of audio, video, imagery, animation and digital! Get creative and mix it up!
- Entertain – Build intrigue and add an element of surprise to keep your readers engaged. Educate, use your wit and make content relatable to your audience.
- Experiment and leave them wanting more– Experiment with different types of content and give people a reason to come back for more. Leave them with a hook, the promise of a follow up blog or go the whole hog and create a series!
So why not grab yourself a brew (and a piece of red velvet 😊) and unleash your inner author. Be creative, be open, be you. We all have countless stories within us, what’s yours?