Nothing beats getting sucked into a good book or TV program. We’ve all been there – when you’re so engrossed in the characters and plot that before you know it it’s 2am, yet you’re still telling yourself “just one more chapter”, or “one more episode”…
In these instances, you’re captivated by a story, and it’s these stories that keep you wanting more. They allow you to connect to your reading or viewing material, empathise with characters and situations, or even inspire you to pursue a new thought, process or activity of your own.
The concept of stories doesn’t just apply to fictional writing. In the realm of non-fiction, they’re just as powerful, and equally as important. Without a story, there’s no purpose or flow – it’s just a disparate series of information that often lacks impact. Many organisations make the mistake of focusing on product information, reeling off specs without contextualising the product or service – they lack the story.
Tell your "why"
When promoting your brand, the celebrated business writer Simon Sinek argues about the importance of telling your story – your “Why” - and why it’s more important than your “What”. In other words, why businesses do what they do, rather than just focusing on what they deliver. Take the below example:
If Prism Create was to focus on the what:
“Prism Create delivers creative, content and digital marketing services to its IT and Fintech customers.”
It’s a bit of a snooze. But more importantly, it doesn’t allow the brand to shine through – we’re not unique in offering these sales and marketing services, so we’ve potentially lost impact and the chance to connect to our reader in the short time we have available.
But, if we add our “why” into the mix, we have the basis of a great story:
“The Prism team has worked in B2B IT marketing for a long time, and over the years we’ve seen some stuff. Stuff we’d rather not talk about. Stuff that’s driven us to change the IT industry’s perception of great marketing by creating better content. Down the road, along came Fintech – an incredibly innovative, exciting and high-octane technical industry screaming out for content worthy of the amazing things being achieved. Today, we deliver high-impact sales and marketing campaigns for some of the best names in IT and Fintech, and we love doing it.”
So how can you apply storytelling to your company’s communications?
When writing content, think about your audience and what they’re trying to achieve, and frame your story in a context suitable for them. Consider your customer’s pain points and how your proposition or brand can support their needs, highlighting any key challenges or opportunities in your messaging, and prompting action. Your information-heavy product materials can come later, but first you need to get your prospects hooked by applying your content to their journey.
Images and rich visuals can also play a vital part in the storytelling process, by making your content easier to consume. Graphical elements, icons, photography, font and page layout all have an impact on the tone and subject matter of a page and are just as, if not more, important as the content on the page itself. Making your story as easy to follow as possible is one of the key aspects of design, so it’s vital you consider the role that creative has on the full context of your marketing campaigns and the stories they tell.
And finally, interactive content is an excellent way to tell a true story and engage with your audience, because it helps to put your prospects in the driving seat! Every story has a central character, and by weaving interactive media such as assessments, quizzes and even interactive eBooks into your campaigns, you can help your prospects and customers visualise your story in a context that applies to them directly.