A presentation that explains the what, why and how of storytelling in business. It's an expanded version of the presentation that I gave at the Digital Marketing for Business Conference in Raleigh, NC in 2013.
What is it? Does it work? Why does it work? What kinds of stories can we tell? How do we tell the story? What do we tell it with?
Not office gossip, watercooler or printer chatter. Not stories about the boss’s family.
Not making fraudulent claims about your product, service, capabilities or financial performance.
Telling stories that move your audience’s hearts and motivate them to act. Connecting with them emotionally so that they change perceptions and thoughts.
Audience can be clients, customers, collaborators, employees, your manager, her manager’s manager, your peers, vendors, business partners, media channels
Examples… if you’re selling computers, story for business partners or channel on why you decided to create new product or service
Media channels - story of how new strategy was created and implemented resulting in top line revenue growth
Various disciplines - Marketing, leadership, communications, sales, human resources, organizational development, finance, public relations, advertising, fund-raising
Various formats and channels – web videos, branded content, TV ads, blogs, podcasts, customer stories, user generated stories
Who uses it? Lots of companies, e.g. those with commodity products – Coca Cola, Pepsi - also BMW, Mercedes, mega-conglomerates – helps differentiate product and brand
Some examples – Pepsi Max branded content with Kyrie Irving.
Google crammed 10 product features into this 53 second video, without mentioning them a SINGLE time
Collectively, Pepsi Max has over 70M YouTube views for their branded content - just on official YouTube channel! Malaysia Airlines example.
Culturally – exist in every society. Good stories transcend racial identity, ideologies, philosophies and religious beliefs.
Historically, pictures have been used to tell stories for tens of thousands of years - El Castillo paintings in Spain, Lascaux in France, aboriginal paintings in Australia
Historically – oral storytelling traditions have existed since the dawn of humankind to transfer knowledge, lessons, messages
and yes.... to sell stuff.
Storytelling is weaved into who we as humans are and is important for conveying knowledge, passing down traditions, morals
Beyond that, has scientific explanation. Broca and Wernicke’s area related to production and comprehension of words – e.g. Powerpoint, hard facts activate these areas
When subjects heard stories, other parts of brain activated. Different parts of brain activated when different things are mentioned e.g.motor cortex when active event is described, sensory cortex activated when descriptive metaphors are used
Most amazingly, experiment at Princeton - brain pattern of listeners was identical to a storyteller’s when she told them a story. That means you can get your audience to think the way you want them to by telling them a good story. Scary stuff!
What are the Implications of this research?
Use stories to motivate the behavior you want from your audience!
Make your stories descriptive and interesting to engage your audience and create a strong identity (example on following slide)
Era of big data - collection, analysis are meaningless unless you paint a story with it. HBR blog post - “data gives you the what, humans give you the why”.
Kimberly-Clark, provides two-day seminars to teach its 13-step program for crafting stories and giving presentations with them. 3M banned bullet points and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” P&G has hired Hollywood movie directors to teach its senior executives how to lead better with storytelling. And some of the storytellers at Motorola belong to outside improvisational or theater groups to hone their story skills. Nike- execs are corporate storytellers.
1.How you or your company helped someone solve a problem- case study or customer testimonial 2.Why you did something you did - new product, service... new strategy. Something special - involved in new non-profit campaign, etc. 3.Talk about your company’s past and vision for its future 4.Talk about your employees and their involvement in the community
First rule – Know your audience and tailor your story to them!
Second rule - be authentic! It’s storytelling that tells the tale of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, vision and everything else that makes it unique. It sends out a consistent message, externally, internally and across all levels of your organization. Using your own unique voice i.e. don’t try to sound like someone you’re not. It’s truthful. No lies, no embellishments, no fabrications.
Third rule – Keep it simple! Doesn’t have to be epic like Star Wars,
Fourth rule - Follow basic guideline of storytelling – narrative arc or story arc
Fifth rule - Allow your personalities to shine through – people you work with are fun, but the marketing seems a bit stiff
Sixth rule - Be creative, be descriptive – your opportunity to distinguish yourself
Ideally, all forms of media! Transmedia storytelling – web video, print, website, blog, podcast, etc. - ensure consistency of message
Use the channels that already work for you, but be open to exploring other channels
Ingrained into who we are as humans. Has scientific explanation. Works! e.g. Pepsi, Shangri La, Google, etc.
Stories humanize us and help us form connections. In a world where human connections help us accomplish everything, storytelling is the most effective way for us to succeed, whatever we’re trying to accomplish.
Stories humanize us and help us form
connections. In a world where human
connections help us accomplish
everything, storytelling is the most
effective way for us to succeed, whatever
we’re trying to accomplish.