There was another great article published, recently, about the importance of good storytelling. Storytelling is one way that we, as human beings, learn and interact with each other. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon, as story-telling has been going on for thousands of years, around the world. Since people learn and remember through storytelling, it’s important, in marketing, to have a story to tell – and to tell it well.
Telling a story well is important because you’ll want your listener/reader/audience to be engaged and to care about what happens next. “People can’t become engaged with a story that is incoherent,” says Melanie Green, a professor of communication at the University of Buffalo. If your story isn’t clear, people will be too busy “to figure out what is going on,” rather than understanding your point.
Dr. Green’s recent research indicates that people who tell stories, as opposed to those who simply mention facts and figures, or offer their opinions, are viewed as “more likable” and accessible. As a marketer, it’s important to be perceived as likable and accessible; you want to establish credibility and rapport with your audience; storytelling is a great way to do this.
Because storytelling touches us at our core, affecting us chemically. In writing about this phenomenon in a Berkely News blog, The Science of the Story, Jeremy Adam Smith notes: “Experiencing a story alters our neurochemical processes, and stories are a powerful force in shaping human behavior.” When a good story is told well, it grabs us and moves us, thanks to doses of dopamine and oxytocin. So be careful what you say – and how you say it!
What are the four critical elements of good storytelling? They are:
- Have an exciting beginning – you need to grab your readers (or listener’s) attention at the very start, so that they want to focus on you and hear your story from start to finish.
- Your story needs to be clear, so that people can follow along easily.
- Build tension so that people become emotionally involved – once you’ve involved people’s emotions, they will follow the story attentively to find out what happens next. In fiction, this often involves a villain; in marketing, this can mean the stress of a problem or pain that persists in real life.
- Relieve the tension with a satisfying resolution or ending – be sure that, once you’ve engaged your listener, you give them a great ending. This ensures they’ll be happy with you, as the narrator, and ensures your credibility, to engage them again.
Remember that, as marketers, we can use storytelling to create positive outcomes. Good examples of this include: students who were struggling “reading stories of the struggles of famous scientists led to better grades,” and another study, where those “witnessing acts of altruism and heroism in films led to more giving in real life.”
Think of great ways to use storytelling to show how your product or service helps people – or makes the world a better place! Not sure where to begin? Contact me and let’s chat about it.