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A great story is like a breath of fresh air. A compelling story transports us, moves us and speaks to the human condition. Storytelling is a universal language that binds culture and solidifies connection. Thoughtful storytelling is the most powerful tool any marketer or business owner could wield.
Stories motivate, inspire, propel. Storytelling is the glue that holds our society together.
People love hearing stories, especially if it’s something they can relate to. These narratives can influence people’s emotions and create an attachment to your brand, message or cause.
Why Do We Tell Stories?
We tell stories for all sorts of reasons: to pass the time, entertain, to record history, to teach lessons, pull heartstrings and conjure laughter. When a story is told, our imaginations are triggered and we try to guess what will happen next. We follow the narrative arch and often place ourselves within the story.
To tell a story is to connect.
Creative storytelling can be used in SO many powerful ways:
1. Narrative as a teaching tool
Everyone learns differently. Sometimes, be it in school or on the job site, we’re faced with a complex concept or task that we just can’t get our head around. Telling a story can help us to break through barriers in a new way. By illustrating a concept from a different perspective, we’re able to overcome obstacles through the art of storytelling.
2. Trust and connectivity
Stories can provide common ground, instill trust and promote connectivity. Regardless of cultural upbringing, language or socio-economic status we all know what it feels like to be scared, heartbroken, excited, joyful. A beautiful story can bring people together in a way that little else can. In fact, brilliant storytelling has also been know to build trust between a brand and consumer.
3. Stories promote authenticity
People are naturally curious and it’s this curiosity that can turn us into excellent listeners. When we come in contact with an authentic and compelling story, barriers begin to fade. In fact when brands are honest and vulnerable a more elevated connection is made. When consumers are allowed to peek behind the curtain and connect with other humans behind a company, brand ambassadors are born.
The Process of Storytelling
Storytelling requires creativity, skill and lots and lots of practice. But nothing is worse than staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, so we’ve mapped out the process for you!
Here are 4 questions that will lead the way when you settle in to craft your narrative:
1. Who is your audience?
It’s important to know who you’re talking to. Who’s most likely to be interested in your story and how will it benefit them? Be sure to run thorough market research and create your customer or audience avatar. This work will help you to understand your readers and get a sense of where they’re coming from so you can create a compelling story.
2. What is your core message?
What’s the point of your story? Is there a moral or key takeaway? Create a rough goal behind the story you are about to create. For example, perhaps you are trying to reach donors on behalf of a cause. Or maybe you’re drafting the about page of your website. Whatever the goal is, you should be able to summarize your desired result in six to ten words. If not, you are missing your core message.
3. What is your call-to-action?
A call-to-action defines what your audience should do after reading your story. Are you looking for comments? Subscribers to your email list? Donations to a nonprofit? Followers on Twitter? Whatever it is, be sure that your reader knows exactly what steps to take next. And make it as easy as humanly possible!
4. Where is your story being told?
Taking the time and brainpower to tell a thoughtful story is no joke; in fact storytelling is an art in its own right. So be respectful of these efforts and be sure that your story is represented properly. In other words, let’s ensure that your story can be accessed by as many readers/listeners/participants as possible.
Consider repurposing your content and tell your story in a number of ways on various platforms. A story can take so many different forms: a blog post, video, infographic illustration, downloadable book and, of course, hard copy form.
Crafting a relatable narrative will add warmth to any message. A great story will forge a human connection. Stories help your audience to see you and your business in new and thoughtful ways. And if you spark authentic, engaging conversation, you will have a much better understanding of your audience.
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