Everyone talks about storytelling like it’s something completely new. A lot of people think it’s very important. but really, storytelling has been around as longs as humans exist. It doesn’t sound very sexy, but one of the oldest and best-selling collections of stories is the Bible. Maybe today this book is less popular than 50 years ago, but that doesn’t mean people don’t know the stories. We keep on telling them to this day.
Fast forward 2000 years and we still write and tell stories. Only now we have other tools at our disposal, and we use storytelling for everything, including marketing, as part of your content marketing strategy. But what makes storytelling so important?
A while ago I worked for Disney, a company uniquely known for storytelling. Before my first day of working there, I noticed immediately how important those stories are for Disney. During my job interview, they asked what my favourite Disney character is and why. I was asked that question even before we were talking about competencies. Storytelling is a part of Disney’s DNA. Throughout my time at Disney, I’ve been able to see how important storytelling really is and especially the effect it has on customer loyalty to a brand.
Research tells us that we get 70% of our information from stories, not from facts and numbers. It makes sense if you think about it. Without context, numbers don’t mean anything. And you get that context because of the story. Think back to your college days: there was always that one professor that told stories during classes. That was probably the one you learned the most from. Some of the stories you heard then, you still know today.
As a dad of four young children, I’ve quickly found out the importance of stories first hand. Teaching them something is a lot easier when you do it telling stories. When they tell you how their day at school was, they always tell a story. Stories are a very powerful tool to communicate something to your audience.
By telling stories, you make stronger connections with your target audience. This results in better relationships than just trying to sell them something. People relate to characters and stories a lot more than they do to facts and figures. They understand the situation much better, or recognize themselves in aspects of the story. If you succeed in telling powerful stories, you create a stronger connection with your audience. That emotional connection is important: contrary to what most people think, us humans rarely make rational choices. We make emotional ones. By using storytelling, you speak to their emotions, which in turn will convince them much easier.
Most companies that contact us, at some point realize that their website is not quite doing what it should: generating leads. If we then closer look, we usually quickly understand the reason. Often their website is no more than a list of features or facts. The problem is that these are not unique most of the time. There is always someone else offering almost the same. For example: a lot of organizations still claim that they offer ‘the best quality at the best price’. I mean, what does quality even mean, right? If everyone in your industrie does it, it’s no longer unique. It’s also not authentic. By focusing on your own story, you can emphasize that authenticity.
Because you make a stronger connection using storytelling, people are more inclined to share your content. A boring list of numbers is not very appealing, so it will probably not be share that much. If you tell stories, you connect with people, your story sticks, and people want to share that.
If you’re on a holiday, you don’t share the distance you travelled or the number of hours that you spend on the beach. You share your experiences, the activities you did, the thing’s you’ve seen, often supported by images. Don’t get us wrong: numbers are important. Measuring is knowing, and the numbers help you make decisions. But please tell stories.
Unfortunately, there is something called content shock: more content is created on a daily basis than we can ever consume.. How do you stand out from the crowd? You do that by posting quality content. And storytelling helps you do just that. By using stories you make stronger connections and create the necessary context to interpret facts and figures. People will immediately perceive your content as a lot more valuable by using storytelling.
There’s nothing like telling a good story to inspire, inform or convince your target audience. Unfortunately, storytelling is not that easy. If it’s not your thing, be sure to look for someone within your organization who is good at content marketing and storytelling.
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