The Time for Storytelling is Now
This a guest post by Mark Evans.
In today’s digital age, people are busy multitasking. They are distracted and overwhelmed by a tsunami of information.
According to a report done by the University of California (San Diego), the average person sees and hears more than 100,000 words per day of content - TV, radio, social media, video games, text messages and the Web. Given how much information people are consuming, it is becoming difficult for brands to capture their attention.
At the same time, consumers have a wealth of information at their fingertips about the products they are considering, including prices and features. There is nothing that brands can hide behind anymore.
For companies of all shapes and sizes, this has created challenges and opportunities. While there are a variety of tools to communicate with consumers, there is also lots of competition.
When every company is trying to reach consumers using multiple channels, it is becoming more difficult to be heard above the fray. As much as companies are offering valuable products or services, their efforts often go unnoticed because they fail to capture the interest or attention of consumers.
So what should companies do?
Do they advertise more, embrace the never-ending number of social media platforms, turn themselves into content publishers, or try to shout louder than the next guy?
While there are plenty of marketing options, I believe the most effective approach is telling stories that are immersive and engaging.
Storytelling is the “killer app” because it brings consumers into your brand experience. It is a fertile opportunity to drive connections by crafting narratives that meet a consumer’s needs and interests. Stories tap into peoples’ emotions, which is how people make many buying decisions. Look no further than how people love Apple products, even though they are more expensive other devices.
Storytelling works because stories are memorable and shareable. Stories are inspiring, they build brand loyalty and nurture brand evangelists, and they make selling easier.
In many ways, the renewed focus on storytelling reflects the evolution of the digital landscape. At one time, content was king, particularly because not everyone could create content. Before the Web went mainstream, television, radio, newspapers and magazines were the toast of the town.
Then, social media surged into the spotlight. It gave brands new platforms on which to engage and have conversations with consumers around the world. It created a two-way communication vehicle that many brands embraced.
But social media has its limitations. Brands realized consumers were looking for more than simple engagements; they wanted insight and information. This led to the realization that brands had to create content (aka content marketing). Suddenly, brands were publishers. In the process, the landscape became extremely noisy.
This has left brands in a quandary. They are active on social media and creating lots of content but looking for a new edge.
The answer is storytelling
The challenge is storytelling takes creativity, flexibility and the ability to know what resonates with consumers. This is difficult for brands because it requires them to think and behave in new ways.
Perhaps the biggest storytelling hurdle for brands is embracing a customer-centric approach. This means creating stories focused on what the consumer wants to know, rather than what a brand wants to tell them.
As important, storytelling compels brands to behave more like reporters than publishers. Brands have to constantly be thinking about different angles that could be good stories. It is not enough to just publish content; brands need to create content that draws people into an engaging narrative.
It is a different way of doing business. It means brands have to know their target audiences, and tap into their interests. And they need to be creative to develop compelling stories.
For the brands that embrace storytelling, it can give them a sustainable competitive advantage.
While storytelling has always been part of the marketing landscape, its importance has arguably never been higher. For brands looking for a better way to connect with consumers, storytelling is a must-have to break through the noise.
Mark Evans is a startup marketing and brand storyteller. To learn more about how to embrace the power of storytelling, purchase his new book, “Storytelling for Startups”, at www.storytellingforstartups.ca. You can also follow Mark on Twitter at @markevans and read his startup marketing blog.
[Photo credit: Socially Visual]