Storytelling- New Marketing Mantra

Published by MBA Skool Team, Published on May 13, 2014

Jack Gardener has rightly said “We think we are being interesting to others when we are being interesting to ourselves.” The same is happening to the marketers as well. They are creating advertisements which they think are interesting to the audience when in reality they are interesting to themselves. The audience has grown bored of the advertisements that are pushy, clichéd, filled with facts and figures. In today’s world getting the attention of the audience is much more difficult than getting a teenager off the social media sites. The old ways of creating catchy slogans, presenting research facts and good looking models have lost their sheen. Moreover we are living in a flat world, where physical boundaries do not exist anymore. The competition is escalating we need to think of something that stands out of the crowd. One of the good old methods is the technique of storytelling. Storytelling captures the imagination, keeps us absorbed and connects directly to our emotions. Everybody remembers the advertisement of John Lewis that was released in 2012.It is a tale of a snowman that goes shopping and the obstacles it faces in buying a scarf and a cap for its fellow snowman. The simple of message of “Give a little more love this Christmas” is depicted beautifully and it touches hearts of millions.

Image Courtesy:, koratmember

Why storytelling?

According to Maslow’s theory of motivation the hierarchy of needs drives our behaviour.

The most basic needs are biological and psychological needs. We satiate these needs by purchasing commodities. How can one influence the behaviour of the consumers? According to McLuhan “Medium is the message”. McLuhan said that the focus should be on the medium and not the content. The characteristics of the medium affect the society. Message sounds genuine when story is primary and the product serves as the role .Psychologists Melanie Green and Tim Brock say that the more the consumers are absorbed in a story the more it changes them. They detect few inaccuracies than the less absorbed readers. We are skeptical when we read facts but when we read story we drop skepticism. What is in the story that motivates buyers? Our brains are wired in that way. In the simplest form story is a connection of cause and effect. According to Cognitive neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga the left hemisphere fills in gaps for the right hemisphere. The human brain covets for narratives, which attracts humans to stories. Storytelling is the art of conveying a message or event in form of words and images. In modern view storytelling includes personal experiences, history, political commentary etc.

How to tell a story in effective way?

The art of storytelling can be broken down into two parts:

a) Delivering the right message

b) Testing and retesting it so that it fits into all the conditions

We need to know or target customer so that we can build a story that connect to them. We can test it and analyze those parts that interested them and cut out the parts that were boring. This needs to be iterated so that we can build an effective story.

A few things to keep in mind while developing good stories is:

a) keep the story as simple as possible

b) consumer buy an emotional story with facts and data (not just fact and data )

c) the story should be genuine

d) it should have a beginning, middle and end

What can organizations talk about?

a) Business Stories: You can narrate the story of how the business came into being. Family owned business can talk about it. It would interest the listeners.

b) Products Secret Recipe: Is there anything that makes your product different from others. Is there any story related to the inception of the product or the people associated with it.

c) Location of the Business: Is there any story related to the location of business which will grab the attention of the viewers.

d) Behind the scenes: You can show viewers how a product is created. You can narrate the stories of the employees associated with the product.

One such example of behind the scenes is of Dove. DOVE’S MARKETING Director realized that the use of models is resulting in the low self-esteem of his daughter. He realized it might be affecting the self- esteem of everybody’s daughter. They developed an advertisement with the daughters of all the directors with a text alongside which said that these girls did not consider themselves beautiful. The risk worked. The advertisement was loved not only by the people of the company but also by the general public. The profits of Dove doubled from pound 1 billion to pound 2 billion.

Fashion retailer Nordstrom collects stories of employee service from its stores. These are called Nordy Stories. One such story is of a customer who was laden with items not only of Nordstrom but also of a rival store. The employee offered to wrap not only the items from Nordstrom but also from the rival brand. An average Nordstrom customer has a lifetime spend of $8000. The cost of wrapping the gifts is nothing when compared to it. At the same time it also brings new stories to Nordstrom to narrate and earn customer loyalty.

This article has been authored by ShwetaVerma from MDI Gurgaon 


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