Traditionally, marketing has been about making noise, in one way or another, to stand out, get attention, and drive sales. And today’s marketplace is arguably the noisiest it’s ever been. People have information, messages and ads coming at them from everywhere – even at the gas pump and in line at the grocery store – every waking hour of the day. As a result, standing out amidst the clamor is becoming more and more challenging.
So what can we do?
We must change our mindset. We’re no longer going to get results by making more noise and attempting to out-shout the competition. The way forward is through connecting with your audience. And the most effective way to do that is through telling a story.
But not just any old story will do. It must be compelling, and it must foster a genuine emotional connection to your brand. In short, you need to make your audience feel something.
Humans are practically genetically programmed to respond to story. A good story, well told, can inspire, delight, move, even compel your audience to take action. A great story can do all of these things at the same time. This quote from Dustin Hoffman beautifully expresses the power of storytelling:
“Stories? We all spend our lives telling them, about this, about that, about people … But some? Some stories are so good we wish they’d never end. They’re so gripping that we’ll go without sleep just to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter and sometimes they bring us tears … but isn’t that what a great story does? Makes you feel? Stories that are so powerful … they really are with us forever.”
That’s certainly more powerful than a traditional sales pitch or list of product features, wouldn’t you say?
We suggest giving these questions some thought:
- What is your organization’s defining story?
- How can you tell that story in the simplest, most powerful way?
- How do you want your audience to feel when they read that story?
- How do you want them to respond when they see an email from you in their inbox?
Mull those questions over, and then go and watch this TED talk from Andrew Stanton, the writer of all three Toy Story movies, on “the clues to a great story”. It’s sure to inspire you and fire up your imagination.
How has storytelling impacted you as a consumer? Do you think you could apply what you learned from personal experience to your own marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments below!