September 17, 2014

Storytelling III: Where Does One Begin?

Storytelling

(c) fotalia.com

Before you can tell a good story, you should understand a few things about yourself and your audience. We’ll explain what:

We have already explained that the story you tell about your company should be both basic and emotional. Here we give you specific advice on what you should watch out for when finding and telling your story.

Belief systems for storytellers

If you want to use storytelling as a marketing tool, you should start off by asking questions and being open to principles – Werner T. Fuchs calls them “belief systems”:

1. Marketing is influencing human behaviour so that the affected person wants to acquire my product (…) and is willing to pay the fixed price for it.

2. In order to achieve that, I must package my product with a story that appeals to my desired audience.

3. The better I know the impact of the elements involved in the production, and thereafter select these elements and co-ordinate them, the more successful the performance will be.

4. Since human choice is primarily driven by the subconscious mind, I must find suitable translators for the sign language of the unconscious (mind).

5. I am more likely to find these translators in the form of storytellers rather than writers of textbooks.

Considering these principles, we already have quite a number of starting points for one’s own storytelling.

Reflect on the essence of your brand

maslowshierarchyofneeds-svg To begin with, it is helpful to return to your own company history: What do I actually offer and who am I targeting? And what story will appeal to my target group? If you’re trying to answer that question, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Furthermore, you should focus on classic literature and the film industry, rather than wading through textbooks, in order to find a universal, emotional story. The story shouldn’t just be universal and simple so that it easily filters into the subconsciousness of the target group, but it also needs to be authentic. Authenticity, in an ideal case, means that your company has really experienced the story, which gives you more persuasive power.

The product takes a back seat, while the emotions run the show

An example for an authentic story, I believe, is this video clip from British Airways India. It tells the universal story of a mother and her son and their emotional bond, which is expressed over food. Everybody can identify themselves in its simplicity. The product itself, the service of ‘flying’, isn’t even the focus, but evokes a strong sense of connection triggered by the story. A great example that storytellers in companies can use as a (role) model.

Once the story, which is both authentic and evokes strong emotions in the target group, has been found, you shouldn’t shy away from asking yourself whether it works. Continue to work on variations that will make the story as powerful as possible.

Fuchs offers several “control questions for a good story”, which you should apply to check your story and further improve it:

  • What’s the title?
  • Does the audience recognise itself in the story?
  • Is it linked to experiences from childhood or puberty?
  • Does it include elements from popular stories?
  • Would I share the story with others?
  • Are sequels possible?
  • Do the beginning and the end feel right?

What is your story? Or which company story do you think works really well – we look forward to your comments.

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All our storytelling articles (published so far):

Storytelling I: What’s the Story?
Storytelling II: Why it Works
Storytelling III: Where Does One Begin?
Storytelling IV: Best Practices Google Nexus
Storytelling V: Storytelling With Style

Storytelling Best Practices:

Google Nexus
LEGO

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