Storytelling is the process of telling a story by using certain styles and tones of voice already known to the audience, often with a deep meaning. It is generally referred to fiction, folk traditions, literature, and wherever people have a protagonist role. That being said, how to make good storytelling?
Altough at a first glance it might seem easy to do, storytelling requires the intervention of a professional, because making a credible story, and making sure it reaches the heart of the audience with the right keywords, is not exactly a job everyone can do.
In marketing, storytelling can be part of a strategy, in which a brand tries to transform their mission in a more customer-oriented format. This is because we all know the characteristics of a fiction story, so it is a language we all understand. When storytelling is used in marketing, it can serve many different purposes, such as entertaining, persuading, selling, and so on.
What makes a good storytelling
Stories where born along with mankind: they were used to pass information, knowledge, emotions, and much more. There are civilisations in the history that were able to ignore the invention of the wheel, but you’ll never come to know of a civilisation survived without stories, and all the stories have common characteristics, well defined in this infographic by ABC Copywriting:
Let’s see a brief overview of all of them:
- Trust in the teller: do people who listen the story, who actually taste your storytelling, trust the teller? Do they know your brand? This aspect is critical, if you want to get good results with this technique.
- Drama: stories need to touch people’s feelings. Great stories are based on great feelings, and you can’t do without. Conflicts, solutions, tension, mystery… open the toolbox and get to work!
- Relatability: the audience should be able to identify themselves in the story. This creates a special relationship, in which the readers identify themselves in the protagonist, and trigger their imagination.
- Immersion: if you can grab the attention of your audience, and put them so much into a story, they will feel like they are living the same experience and their soul matches with the one of the protagonist. If it happens, that’s it: you achieved your goal!
- Simplicity: a simple story is a strong story. Take out all the unnecessary details, like secondary events, secondary characters, secondary places, and so on. Just ask yourself this question: does it serve my purpose? If the answer is no, well, you know what to do.
- Agency: people find meanings in everything they read and in all the experiences they do, and this also happens with stories, so people will tend to give your story their personal meaning, but that’s good, because if your story is meaningful to them, you will easily persuade them.
- Familiarity: people make comparisons, and they will compare your story with the stories they heard in the past, somewhere else, but as we can see, different stories can have similar structures, so if your audience finds your story familiar, its power will be immense.
Storytelling in marketing and politics
Storytelling is something you find in primary school, but also in big companies, that’s why it is critical you familiarise with the steps I mentioned above. However, keep in mind that storytelling doesn’t usually bring to a sale. Storytelling is a soft selling technique, but it is more focused on the brand reputation. There millions of selling techniques even more powerful than this, after all.
Storytelling is also crucial in politics, where the trust in the teller is a critical factor. Not everyone realises, but storytelling is widely used in politics. Can you remember 2016 US elections, and how Republicans depicted Democrats as “part of the establishment”, elitarian, cynical, and distant from people? They reverted eight years of Obama administration in a few months.
And what about the tale of Saint George and the Dragon given by Tony Blair, about the war in Iraq? We all know what happened.
You can learn how to make good storytelling for many purposes, but you will always find the same structure and the same elements.