It's almost a given that you have someone in your family who is the king or queen of storytelling. My grandpa tells the best stories. You all know what I'm talking about, "When I was a kid, I had to walk up the hill both ways to school, in the snow, with no shoes."
Maybe his stories aren't 100% true, but he sure knows how to get your heart pumping and emotions flowing. His stories come alive in your head and you want to know what is going to happen next.
This is exactly what your goal as a marketer and advertiser should be. You don't want to create an advertisement and have it flop. No, you want people to make a long lasting connection with it. People should be invested in your work.
In a TED talk by Bill Harley (video below), he talks about the power of storytelling. Although he does not directly refer to how storytelling is a powerful tool for a marketer, I think it should be addressed.
Harley suggests that stories are how we assign meaning to things. Humans are "creatures of context" and we always are looking for ways to put things in context. He defines stories as being patterns made up of events that are put together in a particular order and this order, giving it meaning.
Storytelling and Marketing
So how does this relate to marketing? Stories help you remember things and how we are reminded. As humans, we are not built to memorize lists. We understand by putting things in order so they have context. It makes more sense to determine what happened before and then what proceeds after.
As a marketer, if you want people to remember your work, you have to structure it in story. People retain stories and have better recollection of things if it can be put in context.
Not only do stories put things in context, they also evoke emotions. People relate to stories and want to know what happens next. They become invested in the storyline and characters.
Let's think about stories in an everyday aspect:
Many times when faced with a certain scenario, we reflect on a story that relates to the current situation. You can always recount a story that has happened to you before because stories are linked to emotions. On the other hand, you can't always remember what was on the list of things you memorized for a test. Stories work because you are not just memorizing something for class because you have to; you are memorizing life events because they have meaning to you as a person.
Harley spoke about one of his friends that is a professor. His friend told him that during lecture, he often likes to tell stories to his students. When we tells the class that he has a story to tell, he notices two things happen in the room.
- The students unconsciously put down their pencils
- The type A student asks if it's going to be on the test
Minus the second part, as a marketer you can learn something from the first realization. People love a good story and they really listen to it. Stories stray away from the usual boring educational feeling, and makes learning fun.
So next time you are going to write a blog post or advertisement, think about the power of storytelling. You can turn your usual informative list, to a riveting story, with dragons and knights in shining armor (well you don't have to go that far, but you get the idea).
Have you ever noticed how you remember something better if you put it in context? Share your experiences with us below. Cheers!