The Value of Storytelling
By Dustin McManus | Lewis Magazine, November 26, 2018
In the immortal words of morning talk show host extraordinaire, Kathie Lee Gifford: “Everyone has a story.” Think about it – all of us have a handful of great stories shaped by our experiences tucked away in our back pockets and ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. That’s because storytelling invites conversation, captivates attention, inspires the imagination and captures hearts. It is the oldest form of communication, after all. The power of good storytelling is unrivaled, and the moral of the story I’m about to tell is that it needs to be a prime fixture in your content marketing efforts.
To truly understand the value of storytelling, it’s important to recognize just how it impacts us as human beings. Our brains on fiction light up like the Las Vegas Strip at night. There are endless amounts of studies that have proved our brains become more engaged and respond better to storytelling than data and facts. That’s because a good story activates areas in the brain that allow a listener to turn that story into their own ideas and experiences – this is a phenomenon known as neural coupling.
The fascinating science of the brain tells us humans remember stories far better than they do facts because our brains don’t process any real distinction between a story or experience we hear or read about and one that actually happened to us. Blame it on the dopamine, which the brain releases when we experience emotionally-charged events, allowing us to better process, retain and recall a good story. If anything, people know what they like. Research from Fast Company found that Americans consume over 100,000 digital words a day, with an overwhelming 92% claiming they want brands to tell stories within those words. This is invaluable information content marketers should arm themselves with.
For a brand to stand out in today’s crowded marketplace, they need to enthrall their customers — both existing and prospective. That starts with establishing and embodying a recognizable personality through calculated and compelling storytelling, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for customers. Through storytelling, brands can cultivate more authentic, personal connections with customers. This sort of emotional branding can increase customer retention and bolster revenue. After all, a brand thrives on its perception. Telling a story that resonates with people can shape how they perceive and feel about you, thus influencing whether or not they buy your product or service.
So, how can you get started with storytelling that will bring business value to your brand? It all starts with developing the narrative and story you want to tell. Identify your customer base and the void your product or service can fill in their lives. Then, create a narrative around that where the customer serves as the main protagonist and your company acts as the plucky best friend character that provides them with the advice and tools they need to obtain what it is they desire. Remember to deliver the content at the heart of your story in a linear and impactful way so that the overall narrative shines through.
Once you’ve hammered out your story, you then need to identify the most effective and meaningful way to tell it. Not all content is created equally, meaning that what works on one medium may not translate effectively onto another. There are tons of mediums at a marketer’s disposal to tell stories today, but each has a particular audience and its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Your story should be fine-tuned and tailor-made to fit the medium you choose. Of course, a good story will be adaptable across various mediums, but knowing what people respond to best on each medium will bolster your storytelling efforts.
Hopefully, this tale I’ve weaved has inspired you to consider and ultimately harness the benefits of storytelling. It’s often easy to underestimate storytelling’s value, but at the end of the day, people will always respond best to a story they can relate to, hits them on an emotional level and stimulates our natural tendency to wonder and daydream. Storytelling is the heart of human nature, and if a brand can connect with customers on that deeply profound level, they’ll always keep coming back for more.
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