I am willing to bet that if I walked up to anyone, whether they are a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger and ask them if they can remember their favourite bedtime story they would remember it like they heard it yesterday. Often parents share the stories they loved as a child with their children or grandchildren today. Why do you think that is?
When I was a young boy, the way for any adult to get my attention was to announce that it was story time. Like the rest of my classmates, we would immediately stop what we were doing, grab our blankets and form a circle around our school teacher. At home, I would lay in bed as my mother or father would tell me the story. I may not have been able to read very well yet, but I had heard the story so many times that I could recite everything on each page by memory. When you are young, you don’t mind hearing the same story over and over again because the person reading it or telling the story would always bring something unique to it. It didn’t matter if they were male or female, with high pitch or baritone voices, we children would watch their facial expressions and listen to their voices. My favourite fairy tales were The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, Hansel and Greta and Rumpelstiltskin. What was your favourite story when you were a child?
As a public relations and marketing professional I learned early in my career that being a great storyteller was key to selling a brand, positioning your company or convincing a priority audience to attend a community engagement event. To put it simply, storytelling is using a narrative to communicate a clear message. The primary purpose to to make the viewer or listener feel something enough so they will feel inspired to take action. In public relations and marketing, storytelling is a way to help our audiences understand the reasons they should care about something. The storyteller’s goal is to connect with others. One thing to always remember is that people never forget good stories, especially emotional ones.
Designing a great story for your audience is like preparing a delicious and elegant meal for those that you care about. Whether you are a good cook or not, we all know the importance of sharing a delectable meal which includes, great conversation, laughter, mouth watering desserts, luscious coffee or tea, and the most essential part is sharing great stories.
So, what are the ingredients to preparing a great dish called a story? Now think about a story that a friend, parent or a neighbour may have shared months or years ago, but you still remember it as if it was yesterday. A good story should always be:
- Easy to understand
- Believable (unless it’s a fairy tale)
When companies venture out with a new campaign or community engagement event they want a powerful and joyful bond with their priority audience(s). Telling great stories to grab the attention is what people want to see and hear. If it’s a good story, they don’t get tired of seeing or hearing it and often start to share it with others in their network.
Storytelling helps us to build a connection with our priority audience, adding human content to our product or brand. You may be thinking that storytelling is the same as advertising, but there is a difference. A good narrative makes people trust your brand. Often, having a great story may create brand loyalty making an audience more willing to talk about or promote your brand through word of mouth marketing.
Why is word of mouth marketing is so popular? When the average consumer sees an ad trying to sell something they may or may not need, they tend to push back. In the market today, the average person believes that most advertising is built on lies. People are 90% more likely to trust or buy from a brand if a friend or someone they trust recommends it to them. It’s a great opportunity to turn customers into advocates. Do you remember the last time someone you trusted recommended a brand? It happens often. Just a few days ago I was in my community market looking for an Elderflower Cordial. As I was looking at the various products I noticed a very elegant woman watching me. As I reached for the third brand, she gently touched my arm and said, “Excuse me, but if you want a great product and a better price, may I recommend this brand for you?” For some reason I trusted her 100% and since that day I continue to purchase it and share my recommendations with many other shoppers. I later realised that I was participating in word of mouth marketing and was promoting this product to others.
Have fun creating your story for your audience. In preparation, make sure you include all the ingredients that will come with much success.