No surprise but we live in a visual world with visual media and audience preferences for visual content. But what is behind or related to the visual is very important too. It is the story! Because the story shares more about the visual, offers an interpretation and helps make ideas easier to remember.
What is Storytelling? Storytelling is an art of includes sharing facts and words to communicate something relevant to your audience. Some stories are factual in nature, and some use embellishments and more drama to better describe and communicate the core message. In business stories, it is best to keep embellishment and detail to a minimum to get to the most important points. Too much detail or description can lose your audience, confuse the message, and/or turn your audience off because of the attention span needed to wade through your story. Stories need to lead the reader through a scenario weaving in questions and thoughts that allows the reader to ride along from the beginning to the end of your story.
Storytelling is an art. One that can be learned. An art worth practicing and developing for both your business and your customers. Stories bring people together and inspire action and response.
Recently I picked up a book “Imaginative Writing-The Elements of the Craft” by Janet Burroway. This book, while written for fiction writing, discusses the actual craft including image, voice, character, setting and story. It offers good practices and advice to making stories more descriptive and memorable.
It has been said that today’s consumer doesn’t necessarily decide to buy based on what is being sold but rather why it’s being sold. The story behind the product and producers of that product. Including, the causes that the company supports. Or, what good community works the company is involved with.
Storytelling helps you communicate that “why” you and your company does what is does in a creative, engaging way.
How do you create a relevant, memorable, relevant, and significant story?
- Identify your audience
The basis of any good marketing program and crafted message starts by identifying who you want or need to talk to. This is the first and fundamental step in this process.
Who are you trying to reach? Who needs your services or products?
What wants or needs, both physical and psychological, does your product or service provide to this audience? Who will benefit, understand, and respond to your story?
To create a compelling story, go in depth to understand your audience and who they are and what underlying reasons will get them to not only respond but also act by buying your offerings. Do your research.
Define their archetypes
Branding archetypes are mental frameworks that symbolize the common human motivations, as well as drives, desires, and goals surrounding each group. These categories are loosely based on the work of psychologist, Carl Jung, who identified 12 major personality archetypes
In this podcast, I identify and describe the first 6 of 12 archetypes categories that relate to the types of audience categories.
In part 2, this podcast describes the remaining 6 archetype categories with key information that surrounds this category.
This process will get you acquainted and familiar with those individuals who read, view, or listen to your story.
It will also provide crucial direction for the next few steps as you build out the foundation of your story.
- Define what you need to communicate or your core message.
What does your story need to do? What is the ultimate purpose? What is the core message? Answer these questions with your target audience in mind and what you learned in step 1 of this process.
Do you want your story to sell a product or raise funds? Explain a service or advocate for an issue? What is the point of your story?
To help define this, take a few minutes to write the point of your story in a very short summary paragraph. Writing this down rather than just verbalizing it will help you define to yourself and your team the core message or acknowledge you need more work to figure this out.
- Figure out what kind of story you’re telling.
To determine what kind of story you’re telling, figure out how you want your audience to feel or react as they read your story. This will help you determine how you’re going to weave your story and what objective you’re pursuing
- Do you want action? your story could describe how a successful action was completed in the past and explain how readers might be able to implement the same kind of change. Avoid too much or exaggerated detail so your audience can focus on the action or change that your story encourages.
- Do you want people to learn more about you and your company? Is the point to tell people about yourself? Then tell a story that features genuine, humanizing struggles, failures, and wins. Today’s consumer appreciates and connects to brands that market with authenticity.
- Do you want or need to convey values? Tell a story that taps into familiar emotions, characters, and situations so that readers can understand how the story applies to their own life. This is especially important when discussing values that some people might not agree with or understand.
- Do you want to foster community or collaboration? Share a story that moves your readers to discuss and share your story with others. Use a situation or experience that your audience can relate to and say, “Me, too!” Keep situations and characters neutral to attract the widest variety of readers.
- Do you want to share your knowledge or educate? Tell a story that features a trial-and-error experience, so that readers can learn about a problem and how a solution was discovered and applied. Discuss other alternative solutions, too.
- What do you want people to do because of reading your story? Ultimately, what is the call-to-action?
What exactly do you want your readers to do after reading? Do you want them to schedule a meeting, donate money, subscribe to a newsletter, take a course, or buy a product? Be sure the call to action correlates with the overall objective so your audience is not confused by multiple or conflicting messages
For example, if your objective is to get the audience to act. Add a link to let them signup for a consultation, get a sample of your product, or sign up for your newsletter.
- Decide where you are going to share your story and the medium.
Some stories are read or listened to so if you have a podcast that is a good medium to share your story, or the story can be watched such as video wherever your audience views visual content.
This is an important step because where you choose to communicate your story depends on what time and money you have available to complete this step. Or you might choose, depending again on time and resources to do both a verbal and written version of your story.
What are the various ways you can tell your story?
- Writing your story– applies to articles, blog posts, or books. These are mostly words and includes a limited number of images or photos. Written stories are the most affordable, attainable method. It is important to note that knowing your audience will also help you know how long you can keep their attention and how much text your audience is willing to read through.
- A presented story- is told in person, for example via a presentation, pitch, or panel. Because of their “live”, unedited nature, spoken stories typically require more practice and skill to convey messages and elicit emotions in others.
- A recorded story is spoken aloud and recorded — that’s what sets it apart from the presented story in live presentations. Audio stories are usually in podcast form.
- A digital story is told through a variety of media, such as video, animation, and interactive stories. This, depending on your objective can be very effective for emotionally resonant stories as well as active, visual stories … which is why it’s also the most expensive. However, expense doesn’t necessarily have to be a deterant to presenting a video story. There are lots of applicaioons to help with h=this and while when presenting audio such as in a podcast listeners want good, clear audio with videos viewers are more forgiving of poorer quality then a professionally produced video. This will also depend on the size and sophistication of your audience
- Put your story on paper. Just start writing
With all the information in place, researched and discovered you know should have a strong core message, an objective, and a call-to-action and now it is time to add the detail, examples, and actual story.
Writing your story on paper will also present any holes or areas that need work. The more work done to explain and develop your story in a written format the more details and ideas will flow, and you can see where any additional information is needed.
- Now go for it…Share your story.
Share and promote your story. Your story does no good just relayed within your company unless that is the objective of the story. But if your story is for your audience outside your company it needs to be shared.
Depending on your medium, you should share your story on social media and to your email subscribers. In addition, written stories can be promoted on your blog, or guest posting on other publications. Digital stories can be shared on YouTube and Vimeo or any of a host of social media platforms. While spoken stories are best conveyed in person, consider recording a live performance to share later.
The more places you share your story, the more engagement you can expect from your audience.
This is the basis of storytelling. There is more to this subject and we will share more in future blog posts and podcasts
Feel free to connect with me to let me know if you have ideas, comments, or suggestions. I love to hear from those reading my blog posts.