The value of digital storytelling

Why does storytelling grow businesses so effectively?

Why does storytelling grow businesses so effectively?

Good question.

Education specialist Roger Schank sums it up well.

“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.”

In business we think of it like this:

  • We like stories. So, we listen. Attentively.
  • We connect with stories. So, we feel an emotional warmth. We’re more likely to buy.
  • We’re hardwired to remember stories. Stories quickly build  a memorable brand.

Think about the last time you presented to a business audience. Did they connect with the spreadsheets and figures on your PowerPoint or did they identify better with the story you told behind the figures?

Tell good stories as part of your business marketing and they will deliver four awesome things: connection, trust, memory and action.

1. Connection

1. Connection

When you tell a business story that resonates with a potential buyer, they feel some emotional warmth about your business.

For example, James Dyson, the inventor of cyclonic vacuum technology, repeatedly tells the story of his frustration with a clogged vacuum bag back in 1978 and his determination to create a better solution.

He talks about 5127 prototypes before his invention was ready for market. Dyson fans connect with this story and feel warm about the company.

They happily pay over the odds for their household appliances.

The vast majority of buying decisions are emotional. We buy because we feel good about a product or service. Stories are an easy route to a fast emotional connection with customers.

2. Trust

2. Trust

A potential buyer needs to trust that your product or service might actually solve their problem before they commit.

They need to trust that your team will deliver on their promise.

They need to trust that their hard-earned dollar is safely invested with you.

The Swedish furniture giant Ikea repeatedly tells stories about the meticulous design of its products, the extensive testing every piece of furniture undergoes and the company’s absolute commitment to minimising waste and greenhouse gas emission. Ikea’s founder is one of the top 10 richest people in the world and sits on a personal fortune of over $40 billion.

Flat-pack take-home message: ‘How we do it’ stories and customer reviews are wonderful ways to quickly build trust.


3. Memory

3. Memory

Clearly, the more people who remember a brand, the more it will grow.

Richard Branson is a superb storyteller. He rocketed the Virgin brand to the top of our minds by doing crazy stunts and recounting the stories of his adventures.

He’s told tales about buying a Caribbean Island for a steal, teaching young entrepreneurs how to do business and supporting gay rights. He’s prolific. And he’s very, very successful.

As Richard Branson says in his blog:

“I have always loved stories, whether reading books, hearing tall tales from friends or listening to words of wisdom from my parents. Ever since I started in business I have been fascinated by the intersection between storytelling and entrepreneurship.”

4. Action

4. Action

Ultimately, unless our market takes action, we go out of business.

Lego took storytelling to the extreme by creating ‘The Lego Movie’, a very good 90-minute film that both kids and adults loved.

The move contained inspirational messages encouraging ‘builders’ of all ages to action, limited only by their imaginations.

Kids took action by pestering their parents to buy them Lego. The result was a 15% increase in profits in 2014.

The end goal. Action. Sales. That’s the power of story.

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