Storytelling Transformed: The Art of Stories That Sell
Thanks to traditional advertising, people can now smell a sales message from a mile away. But when you tell stories, people start to listen. You don’t play the game of ‘best-cheapest-fastest’ anymore, because you communicate a real, honest, aspirational story of yours.
Smoothly flowing storytelling helps your listeners to embrace the idea, visualize the plot of a story, follow thoughts and events to, finally, be brought to an eye-opening conclusion that makes them relate, feel something inside and even act upon it. It’s all about an emotional journey you are taken on.
And, voila. Connection is made, attention is grabbed.
Easy as that? Not really.
How does storytelling work so well?
Let’s go back in time and remember some of the most powerful speeches the world has seen: Steve Jobs launch of the Apple iPhone in 2007 and Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. They brought inspirations and hopes to their audiences, making them believe, connect, support and follow. They sold their visions.
So, besides emotional power and irresistible effect on people, what do these speeches actually have in common? The same structural pattern. Yes, it’s not always about a talent, God’s gift, luck or, simply, a good idea or a product. It goes beyond that.
This finding was a total breakthrough made by a visual thinking expert Nancy Duarte presented during her Ted Talk (by the way, run and watch it). And now, look at the storytelling structure both Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King have followed:
- STATUS QUO. This part starts with describing the present conditions relatable to the audience. That’s where you describe what’s going on. What are people’s daily routines, what do they crave for?
- WHAT IF. Here, you need to compare to what it could be, while making the gap between present and future conditions as big as possible to let your idea maximally contrast. It’s a ‘what if moment’ that Steve Jobs could’ve presented as, “what if smartphones could be less machine and more human?”, and Martin Luther King Jr would’ve asked, “what if black and white men could walk on this earth in harmony?”
- REPEAT & OBJECT. Go back and forth with ‘what is and what it could be’ action. You do it to make your status quo look as unappealing as possible. You add objections, understand concerns and give your talk ‘more momentum’ as Nancy said.
- NEW BLISS. You embrace the moment to show how the world will look when you join your efforts and solve this problem together. That’s your poetic and highly dramatic end.
Does your story directly jump to the ‘new bliss’, its benefits and pricing, or it follows a ‘what is and what could be’ structure? Hopefully, the latter one. If not, take a look at your brand story and analyze what part you could be missing on the way to the immersive and engaging story that leaves your audience with a strong belief in your idea, vision and, therefore, a product.
Find your ‘dream’ moment by asking yourself what is it about your concept/company/product that makes you believe in it till the end? The answer will reflect your authentic voice. Use it to connect with your listeners on a more emotional level.
But obviously, it’s not as easy as it sounds. To help your storytelling succeed in a business world, take a look at more boxes you might still need to check:
It may seem quite obvious, but your success in storytelling starts with a clear understanding of what your brand stands for. When you have a stable vision of what benefit your company brings into the world, what problems it solves, it will create an authentic voice for your brand. This brand will then be able to not only talk about a product or idea you sell, but communicate a personality.
People don’t blindly buy because of phenomenal features. They buy because they feel connected to a problem you solve, because they fall for the personality this product has. Therefore, embody your brand. Imagine your brand as a fictional character, and analyze what this person is like, what traits he has and how he behaves. Infuse this personality into your stories.
Be aware of your brand in all that you do.
Audience Is Your Hero
Firstly, get to know your audience. Understand their truths. Ask questions beneath your demographics, be interested not only how much money they make and how they behave on different media channels. Go beyond it. What gets them excited or worried? What do they share with others? Dig beneath the data to uncover human stories, ground values and opinions of those you want to engage.
Secondly, having understood your audience’s needs, be clear about the real benefit they will get. It’s not about showing off your greatest features and impressive initiatives, but the true value of using your product, the problems it solves and opportunities it creates.
And finally, no matter how tempting it is to be a star of your own show, let your audience be a hero. Your storytelling attitude should always be “It’s all about them”. Your job is to be a mentor, a source of wisdom. To make it more clear, you’re not Luke Skywalker. You’re Yoda. Your audience is the one who does the hard work of reaching your objectives, when you’re a voice that doesn’t let them get stuck on this journey. Support your audience with guidance, advice, enhance confidence, and mainly, listen to what experience they’re actually going through and make it better. Listen to understand and connect authentically.
Keep It Real
Authentic story is a key to gaining your audience’s trust. Even though you’re crafting ‘stories’, they need to have roots in reality of your brand. Always keep those 3 fundamental brand-building blocks: consistency, persistence, and restraint. Meet expectations of your customers by keeping your brand stories consistent. That won’t let them get confused and disappointed. Definitely be creative, but always communicate and support your brand purpose.
Don’t try to fool your audience with over-the-top fairy tales. Transparency will celebrate your brand’s unique human approach. If your business story wasn’t earth-shattering, you shouldn’t make it look like it is. Showing challenges and failures will create a more tight emotional connection, as well as reveal highly admirable traits.
TED talk coach John Bates stated: “People don’t connect with your successes, they connect with your messes”.
Story Through Senses
Appealing to all human senses throughout your story will immediately engage readers and immerse them into a full-on experience of the surrounding atmosphere. Set the scene by describing what it looks like. Do you hear any sounds around? Is there a special sent in the air? Describing visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and olfactory details will lock down your audience’s attention. But don’t overdo it, your storytelling still mainly needs a story itself.
Don’t Give Everything Away
Quite often it happens that marketers give away too much information upfront. They start in a chronological order and put the audience to sleep before the ‘AH-HA’ moment actually happens. Make sure your stories are page turners by making the story pieces feed off of each other, leaving your audience wanting more.
Psychologically, we as humans find uncertainty to be uncomfortable, and therefore, we do all we can to reduce it in one way or another. For instance, look at how we spend hours and hours watching series to finally get to the resolving end that will satisfy our curiosity. That’s why you need to create an air of mystery in your stories to build and capture curiosity. Give away enough juicy details to get your audience hooked.
Add More Emotions
As consumers we prefer to think of ourselves as logical beings but this is far from truth. A more instinctive part of our brain, or so-called ‘gut feeling’, is what pushes us towards one or another decision. And only afterwards, we rationalize those primal feelings with reasoning and logic. Therefore, emotions cannot be forgotten in storytelling. Establish what emotions you want your brand to be associated with, and start generating ideas for the emotional storytelling.
Emotions enhance retention. To create a story that pulls your heartstrings, leave you with goosebumps on your skin and long-lasting thinking afterwards, it’s vital to always create an emotional connection around a story. Those emotional triggers will strike a direct response that will make your story memorable.
Storytelling isn’t only a campfire or a bedtime thing anymore. It’s all around us, and especially, in a modern marketing. In a digital age, video storytelling has become a societal norm to receive any content. And that’s for a reason. Countless studies proved a strong effect of visuals on engagement and retention.
Video storytelling can help you break down complex information and present it in a more digestible and exciting pieces. Video will give a new dimension to your story and will enhance your narrative. When you not only hear but see a story happening right in front of your eyes, that’s how you get the best impact.
Take a look at our story. Interested to create your own? Get started now and tell your story with video.
We at Moovly are happy to help with your professional looking videos. Moovly is an online video creation platform that makes your visual storytelling intuitive, affordable and simple. Get started now to explore numerous possibilities to tell your story with 75 million premium images, videos and sounds by Getty Images, as well as over 1 million royalty-free multimedia files, you can totally find a special way to transform your storytelling.