storytelling

Storytelling in Marketing and Business: Techniques and Key Points

  • Rojan
  • 14 minutes read
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As Joan Didion once said:
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

Stories date back to the ancient era when our ancestors drew pictures of their hunting on the walls of the caves they lived in. Since then, stories have captivated humanity, and this interest has continued into the modern era.

Nowadays, businesses recognize the power of stories and endeavor to utilize them as marketing materials to draw more attention to their brands.

This approach has proven highly effective. Companies with more charming stories are more successful than others who don’t even bother to create one for their target audience.

This blog will provide some fantastic storytelling techniques that will skyrocket your business triumph.

Before that, let’s take a closer look at the importance of this matter.

Why is Storytelling Important for Businesses?

Brand Storytelling

Stories are significant leverages to increase sales. Additionally, they can entertain and educate each brand’s target audience; all brands should care about those matters!
Let’s take a quick look at its perks:

  • You can simplify complicated concepts by telling stories.
  • You can engage potential customers in your business through charming stories.
  • You can plan for a behavioral change in your business’s target audience with stories.
  • Great stories can strengthen your connections with customers and the bond between coworkers within the firm.
  • You can count on stories to help pass your company’s culture down through the years, even centuries.
  • You can evoke the target audience’s emotions with touching stories, directly impacting sales numbers.
  • You can gain potential customers’ trust by narrating great stories they feel attached to.
  • You can differentiate your business from all other rivals with unique stories about your brand.
  • You can turn regular customers into loyal fans by telling captivating stories.

Considering these advantages, stories are not strange additions to your business; they should be a central marketing strategy.

It’s good to know that adding visuals to a story can make it more impactful. The term visual storytelling is used here and will be examined in the following section.

Different Types of Storytelling

Storytelling is a diverse art form, offering many approaches to engage and captivate audiences. In this exploration, we’ll delve into some of the most remarkable forms of storytelling, each with its own unique characteristics and strengths.

Visual Storytelling

As the name suggests, visual storytelling involves using visuals, such as pictures, drawings, infographics, etc., to tell a story.
People are significantly interested in imagery content, and that’s why this type of storytelling is very effective in making a robust connection between a brand and its target audience.

Transmedia Storytelling

These days, businesses have multiple accounts on miscellaneous platforms to form a solid online and offline presence.

Transmedia storytelling is the art of creating a story and publishing it on diverse platforms. Each has its unique audience.

The whole idea behind the story and the primary message is the same, but expectations, details, and sub-messages can differ slightly depending on the media in which it is published.
Transmedia storytelling involves creating a narrative universe that extends beyond a single medium, such as blogs, whitepapers, and narratives.

Think of the Marvel series as Transmedia storytelling. There are comic books, cartoons, and movies; all happen in a single world where each character has its own characteristics.
Here, we must define the difference between transmedia storytelling and cross-platform marketing.

The former is about creating a cohesive story across various mediums, where each piece adds more details to the whole narrative.

The latter involves utilizing various platforms and channels to promote the brand and its products and services.

Marvel uses transmedia storytelling, as each story on diverse media covers a different part of Marvel’s fabulous universe.

Interactive Storytelling

It is a revolutionary type of storytelling where the audience is not just a consumer! They take part and shape the story together with the storyteller.

The narrator can use multiple digital and collaborative tools to engage the audience in the unfinished story. Nothing is predetermined in this kind of story, and depending on what the audience decides, the story’s direction may change abruptly.

Even if you think there’s nothing particularly interesting about your business, Interactive storytelling allows you to create an engaging narrative with the help of your target audience. Once engaged, the audience will likely become your loyal customers and brand ambassadors.

One good example of successful interactive storytelling implementations belongs to Nike. The Last Game was the name of a short animation this massive company created, and it was about football stars trying to save this sport from robots. While the animation created a considerable buzz, Nike launched an interactive online game where people could join their favorite idols and battle robots.

Nike successfully engaged potential customers in the fictional story and conveyed one of its brand’s core values, the importance of teamwork.
Now that you know everything about the importance of storytelling, it’s time to dive deeper and study some storytelling techniques businesses can use to distinguish their brand from others in the industry.

But first, let’s delve into the essential characteristics of a captivating story.

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What Are the Features of an Attention-Grabbing Story?

This section will examine all the attributes any good, captivating story must have.

Engaging

All good stories must engage the target audience in the best way possible, and that is not negotiable!

What is the use of a story if it can’t grab the audience’s attention in the first place?

So, first of all, the story must be amusing. Delighting an audience goes a long way toward success, and it will engage them with all the characters within it.

Well-crafted Characters

Well-crafted characters are crucial for creating an engaging story. People love Harry Potter because they genuinely fall for Harry, Ron, Hermione, and other characters, even Voldemort.

Believable

Being believable is another characteristic of a good story when discussing storytelling for businesses. When the audience genuinely believes everything you say in your brand’s story, you will probably accomplish the expected goals.

Surprising

The more surprises a story has, the more people will love it. Consider adding elements of surprise to your story to delight potential customers and make them loyal to your brand.

Include Challenges

Narrating a story must involve challenges and obstacles you have successfully overcome. If you mention the hard times and dramas you experienced, people will get emotional, and you can get the most out of the storytelling process.

Emotive

Being able to evoke emotions is another aspect of a good story.
It would help if you told a memorable story that will leave a lasting impression. Never underestimate the role of emotions in the decision-making process.

Relatable

It is also important to tell relatable stories about your audiences’ everyday lives and your field of expertise. Non-related stories won’t go further and can’t be impactful to achieve success.

Educational

Remember to educate your potential customers. As we said earlier in this blog, stories can simplify complex subjects, which means they help educate your target audience. Thus, being educative is another feature of all good business stories.

Applying storytelling techniques will help you tell a story with all these characteristics. The following section will examine some of the most effective techniques.

16 Effective Storytelling Techniques

As promised, we will explore various types of storytelling methods suitable for businesses aiming to deepen their connections with potential, regular, and loyal customers.
We will divide this section into four categories to examine different techniques more specifically.

Various Structures of Storytelling (Storyline or Story Ark)

Technically, structures are not techniques! But if you plan to tell a magnificent story about your business, acknowledging different types of storytelling structures, or, as experts say, story arcs, is crucial.

Nested Loops

Imagine you’re telling a story about your business, and questions arise because you mention vague concepts in your text or lecture. Now, you have to tell a story about the unknown idea within the main story you started to make up before.

However, the story doesn’t end there. You may talk about some obscure matters again, and they need separate stories to be told so that the meaning behind them becomes clear to the audience. This storytelling technique, or maybe it is better to say storytelling structure, is called Nested Loops.

Remember, the first story you tell is the main subject, and the primary message lies within that.

As expected, the main subject’s story ultimately concludes the entire narrative. We can compare this structure by using parentheses within parentheses. The first opened parenthesis is the last one to be closed.

The Hero’s Journey

It is one of the most classic storytelling techniques used throughout history by various people and nations.

The other name of the hero’s journey is Monomyth, which has a straightforward structure.

There is a hero character at the center of the whole story. This hero leaves his comfort zone and travels to unknown places to learn about different matters and face diverse challenges.

Sometime later, after defeating all the enemies and overcoming all obstacles, the hero returns home as a highly experienced person.

Numerous tales are built upon this structure, and your business can use the Monomyth technique, too.

Share stories about the early days of establishing your brand and the challenges you encountered on the journey to where you are today. Let the audience know what you accomplished and what experiences you have.

The Mountain

The mountain technique is very similar to the Monomyth technique, but there is a significant difference between these two. The former doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending!

Further to our discussion, when a storyteller uses the hero’s journey method, the main character will ultimately return home with triumph. However, when the mountain technique is implemented, there is no guarantee of victory, and anything may happen.

The Mountain technique’s essence lies in its ability to map out the uncertainty and drama within a story. It points to a series of events that took place at certain times for a brand.

The mountain is one of the most common narrative techniques many writers use to tell their stories in a charming way that grabs attention and captivates the audience.

These narratives are characterized by numerous peaks and valleys, with each challenge serving as a building block for the story’s eventual conclusion.

False Start

Almost all successful businesses have experienced failures, big or small! False start is a fascinating technique for making up stories about those failures.

The False Start technique begins with what appears to be a predictable opening. The audience may be disappointed at the very beginning because they think it is a stereotype they have heard about thousands of times.

At this moment, the storyteller, a business, suddenly changes the whole direction of the story with surprising, unexpected events. This is where the audience gets shocked and becomes eager to know the entire story.

Use this technique to tell stories about the ideas that once seemed groundbreaking, but after implementing them, numerous troubles showed up, and everything messed up. Share how you resolved those issues and introduce a better alternative to the old idea that caused innumerable problems.

If you are planning to create a story using the False start method, remember that the audience must not be bored for too long. Bring up the shocking factor and turning point as soon as possible to captivate the audience and make them demand more.

Storytelling Engagement Techniques

As said above, engaging is a non-negotiable characteristic of all good stories. To make your stories more engrossing, use these techniques.

Show, Don’t Tell

Rather than just arranging words to convey your message in the story, try to inundate your audience with the world you will create. That’s the point of showing instead of just telling.

Directly stating thoughts and information makes your story look like an announcement. As you try to impress the audience, descriptive details and dialogues are suggested to engage them with the tale you tell impactfully.

All great storytellers care about explaining details. Tell about senses, such as scents and touches, and describe colors and sounds to visualize your story successfully.

Don’t say, “We have faced many challenges”. Instead, describe the challenging situations: “Those days were tough; every day in the office, there was a new obstacle we had to overcome to achieve our goals by the end of the month.”

In Media Res

“In media res” is a Latin term that means into the middle of the things. It is one of the most compelling storytelling techniques that put readers, viewers, or listeners – depending on the type of platform businesses use to tell the story – right into the depth of something crucial and attention-grabbing of the story.

Next, the consumers become eager and demand more, making them continue reading, watching, or listening until the end! They want to know more and understand the reasons for the situation at the story’s beginning.

It’s a powerful technique that immediately captivates the audience. A storyteller needs the audience’s attention, and “In media res” provides that in the best possible way.

If you want to use this method efficiently, plan strategies that make a good story related to your business and your audience and highlight the facts about your brand you want to demonstrate.
Pro Tip: Giving too much information about the story may have unintended consequences and eliminate the consumers’ interest.

Hook & Reveal

Let us remind you of the importance of a splendid opening! With an attention-grabbing start, chances are you stole the show!

Those one or two first sentences, trying to be as attention-grabbing as possible, are known as Hook!

They help you drop a bombshell, making the audience crave more and become eager to stay alert until the end of the story.

Afterwards, it is time to reveal. You’ve already teased the audience with a bit of information, and at the end, you must address all they want to know and have been waiting for since.

Emotional Trigger

Up to this point, we mentioned the importance of evoking the audience’s emotions several times.

Using Emotional Triggers as a storytelling technique helps stimulate hormones that evoke human emotions.

Successfully doing that will gain the audience’s empathy with what you have been through.

While almost everyone tries to make wise conclusions based on logic, when emotions kick in, they strongly impact the decision-making process. Meaning your story becomes more charming and impactful.

Please note that a narrow line exists between evoking emotions for suitable means and manipulating the audience. Don’t cross that line, and avoid the latter at any cost!

Character Connection

It would help if you tried to forge a strong bond between the characters in your story and the audience.

GOT fans love almost all the members of the Stark house. Succession fans feel firmly attached to Roy’s family, as their problems and achievements are theirs.

Descriptive details help recreate the characters’ situations in the audience’s mind, making them feel what they have been through and discern their difficulties.

This technique is deeply related to the Emotional Trigger technique we discussed earlier. If you are able to deepen the connection between the characters and the audience, the more likely you can provoke their emotion and eliminate the logic.

Techniques Tailored to Build Authenticity

When telling stories about businesses, caring about brand credibility is a must. Therefore, utilizing techniques to achieve this purpose is essential.

Keep it Real

We have mentioned in part the characteristics of an attention-grabbing story.

It would help if you gained the audience’s trust; unbelievable stories won’t help you. Tell real accounts about business experiences, customers, employees, managers, and even the brand itself.

Never come up with fake tales because if the audience finds out you lie, it is a total shame and will severely damage the business’s reputation.

Thus, tell believable stories that actually happened and always keep your brand’s tale realistic.

Show Transparency

A story that is all about triumphs and victories is not attractive to the audience. Conversely, mentioning failures and losses you experienced will grab the audience’s concentration and make them consume the whole tale.

Transparency matters. In the last section, we have told you about the importance of a realistic and believable story. When everything you say is about achievements, it is hard for the audience to have faith in your honesty and find your story boring in the middle of it.

All big brands and businesses have been through letdowns, and it is not embarrassing to address yours in the story you are narrating. But surprisingly, it helps you make more charming stories that appeal to the audience.

Leverage Social Proof

Social proof refers to using external references, such as reviews and testimonials, aiming to demonstrate your story’s credibility and prove what you are saying is true.

This technique is a psychological approach that helps you gain the audience’s trust effectively.

Besides building authenticity and credibility, properly using social proof evokes emotions, which, as we said above, you should strive for.

Reducing risk is another benefit of this technique. Because you mention others that were part of your story, the audience might find it more attractive and worth consuming.

Additionally, using social proof correctly and strategically in your story helps add depth and make it more impactful.

Storytelling Delivery Techniques

Stories of brands and businesses must be able to gain interaction. Simply put, they must bring value to the brand and increase sales.

Create Multi-format Stories

The story you create for your brand must fit all mediums and suit different preferences.

Some prefer to watch videos, some prefer to read, some prefer to listen to podcasts, and some prefer to consume a blog consisting of all 4 forms of content.

It’s imperative for your story to be Multi-format and can be catered to all groups of the audience.

You must create a generic structure with details that form precisely as needed when used on different platforms and mediums.

Implementing Interactive Elements Within the Story

The primary goal of all stories is to make the audience interact.

Try to participate with the audience in the tale you are narrating. Gain interactions through polls, surveys, posing queries, quizzes, and planning for user-generated content, AKA UGC.

The more consumers interact, the more successful your story is.

Integrating Data to the Story

People love numbers and are eager to know about your business’s statistics. Give them what they want by integrating data into your narrative.

Talk about sales numbers, conversion rate, monthly and yearly net profit, etc.

Remember that you must mention related statistics and not just any numbers.

Use charts, infographics, and diagrams to visualize data and make them more pleasing.

Use a Clear Call to Action

Don’t forget to guide the audience in the path you desire; whether you want them to sign up on your website, make a purchase, buy a premium membership, etc., you must clearly ask them to do so.

Call to Action, or CTA, is your requisition that you must communicate clearly, leaving no room for doubt and misunderstanding.

Avoid Telling Unnecessary Information

Longer stories are not necessarily better tales! Keep what you are going to narrate concise and to the point.

No one in the audience wants to know unattractive information that is boring. Instead, focus on valuable information that brings value and is truly interesting.
That is all. It is time for a conclusion.

Good Story is the Key to Success

Winning the competition is about more than just pricing, advertising, and even the quality of the products and services! Although all these factors are crucial to success, the winners are at the top of the table because they have good stories.

As mentioned above, brands with charming stories can make a deep connection with their target audience, which increases sales.

In this blog, we examined some widely used storytelling techniques businesses can use to tell attention-grabbing stories.

Additionally, we explored the significance of storytelling in today’s world and the critical attributes of a compelling narrative.

Also, a section has been dedicated to examining different types of storytelling, such as visual and transmedia storytelling.

If you have any more questions about the topic or know one or two techniques that we have not discussed here, please feel free to leave a comment.

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