7 Ways to Harness the Power of Storytelling

Bill Stamats

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It’s a well-worn adage in the world of marketing: Don’t make claims. Tell stories. And while the truth of that old saying isn’t in question, I’ve noticed that many businesses struggle to fully understand and embrace storytelling as a valuable — no, vital — marketing tool.

Storytelling is central to who we are as human beings. For millennia, it’s been the primary way we learn, instill values, and keep cultures alive. For brands that hope to weave themselves into the lives of their customers and clients, the strategic power of storytelling can’t be overstated. It works because humans are hardwired to share information about the world around us and find meaning through stories.

If your business and organization isn’t using stories to connect with your most valued audiences, make 2021 the year you begin. Here are seven ways to harness the power of storytelling as a marketing tool.

Ways to Harness the Power of Storytelling

1. Understand your audiences

At the core of every successful marketing campaign is a clear understanding of who’s listening. With well-developed personas as your guide, share stories that speak to the hopes, priorities, and challenges of your target audiences. Though each story is unique, each should reflect a universal experience that people can relate to.

2. Be authentic

Today’s audiences have been marketed to their entire lives and in turn, have become discerning marketers themselves. They have the uncanny ability to spot even the best-intentioned exaggeration from ten yards. Keep every story grounded in truth and tell it in a consistent, brand-aligned voice.

3. Connect emotionally

Storytelling works because it taps into the power of human emotion. When properly crafted and applied, stories carry an emotive energy that can cut through the marketing clutter, touch the hearts of your audiences, and move them to act.

4. Don’t be afraid to get personal

It’s truer today than ever before — people want to feel connected to the companies they do business with. Simply put, they want see your personal side. Stories can help. Stories put a face to the often faceless world of business and humanize what’s often reduced to a strict exchange of goods and services.

5. Keep it brief

Shakespeare had it right. “Brevity is the soul of wit” … and of storytelling. Remember, your audiences are likely harried, distracted, multitaskers. Keep stories simple, easy to understand, and brief.

6. Bring it back to your brand

Like all content, stories should support your brand by reinforcing core brand messages. To use an example from higher education, a college’s brand messaging may include “helping students enrich their education through personalized learning experiences.” Use stories to directly and indirectly demonstrate how this promise is realized in the lived experience of students.

7. Empower your audiences to share their stories

Finally, your customers are your most powerful brand ambassadors. Build on the power of storytelling by creating channels for their stories to be told. Make sure your company or organization has a process in place to connect with customers (both online and offline) and elevate new stories that deserve to be shared.

Don’t just engage your audiences — inspire them. Our team of researchers and content experts can help you turn real life stories into powerful tools of connection. Email us today to schedule a free consultation.

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