The term storytelling describes a very old cultural technique and a modern phenomenon. Storytelling in marketing and communication of companies has proven to be an effective strategy to attract customers and involve employees.
Storytelling booms nationwide: professional artists and amateurs tell traditional or freely invented stories at contests and festivals. Storytelling is used as a narrative method in schools as well as a therapeutic technique. Exciting stories awake curiosity; dramatic buildup of action and strong characters are inspiring and captivate the listener’s interest with surprising twists and turns. Good and fancy stories prompt the listener to think things through, they have an effect on perception by involving the entire person, and sink into their memory with images, metaphors and motifs.
Once Upon a Time … – Storytelling in marketing
Storytelling represents a cultural and temporal phenomenon in mankind’s way of life. With fairy tales, myths and sagas, people communicated important experiences and skills, passed on moral traditions and gave their world a meaning. Experts in the United States swear on storytelling as a strategy. They have developed the so-called “Learning Histories” approach to review problems in companies by looking at the track record from a number of perspectives. Today storytelling can be productively used for content marketing, product and brand promotion, communication and knowledge management. Because of the proven advantageous effects in comparison with factual reports, one can convince customers, motivate staff or hire new employees with real experiences as well as deliberately constructed stories about products.
Brand and product stories
In order to stand out in a world of technically perfect, high quality design consumer goods, powerfully written stories can be an effective means of promoting products and services and achieving a successful position on the market. Storytelling in marketing defines a broad range of concepts. The stylistic forms range from texts with narrative elements to entire stories and episode series to multimedia campaigns.
Attractive stories, whether in the pattern of a heroic journey, that tell of ironically funny with broken or interactive multi-chain plots must be authentic and credible in their reflection of the performance and values of a company. They must at the same time align themselves with the way of life of a specific target group. The stories can be about the production or the purpose of the products, prominent features of offers, important individuals or motivations. Personally told stories, truthfully communicated opinions, emotional and witty descriptions of situations give the public a clearer insight into corporate culture.
Storytelling in the digital age Relevant stories tie in with the customers’ experiences and attempt to fulfill their needs. Storytelling has increasingly become cross medial in the Internet age. Basic constellations and heroes of a once imagined story can be attractively transferred in visual media, for example as an advertizing spot or brand video. Online produced stories, which are interactive, fascinate users. With unique stories, companies present their own brands on classical and digital channels, launch powerful promotional content on websites, in customer magazines and YouTube videos, and create a beneficial image.
Outstanding stories can be adapted to meet the respective formats and circulated to reach a large audience in company blogs, social media, online portals, thus creating a viral process. The stories offered on websites increase the customers’ dwell time, which is why the search engines give storytelling on online platforms good ratings. And what’s more, digital storytelling is a concise and clear message when attempting to reach smartphone, tablet and Facebook users who are used to getting their information very quickly.
Storytelling for marketing and communication
Organizations and associations steer their clients’ interest in projects, objectives and concerns, and encourage them to act with individual factual stories or imaginative plots. Arousing creative stories instead of sober lists of facts make it possible to effectively hold one’s own ground among the flood of available information. However, storytelling is less suited when simple facts are in the foreground, when customers want to get the data at a glance, or when practical advice guides and technical information are expected.
Stories aimed at the company’s goals encourage communication and can induce sensible innovations and change processes. Used by management, storytelling is a way of examining functions, problems, events, and projects with staff, clients and sponsors together. Narrative interviews reveal concealed skills, for example the soft skills needed by employees for certain work processes. Company blogs or staff magazines offer a forum to document personal experiences in an employee’s everyday work. The narratives impart opinions, questions, suggestions for solving conflicts that would otherwise be addressed in the form of stories or anecdotes in day-to-day conversations between colleagues in the coffee room, at the copying machine, or in the bar after work.