15 Storytelling Techniques
Storytelling is a major part of any content marketing strategy. Why?
You see, there’s one big problem with online marketing. It’s online.
In other words, since Internet marketing is … well, on the Internet, there’s no way for the visitors who happen to come across your brand to get to know you. In short, they don’t get the opportunity to understand who you are and what your brand stands for.
Storytelling helps to solve that problem by sharing real experiences of your brand, or even fictional pieces that help your visitors understand what you do, with your visitors. It’s the only way to tell your story’s brand online.
And since it’s so important, we’ve decided to compile a list of 15 highly effective storytelling techniques.
1. Be Authentic
The whole idea behind storytelling is authenticity. In real life, it’s never a good idea to try to depict yourself as someone you’re not because you’ll always end up failing in the end.
When you’re writing a real piece on your brand’s story, make sure it’s true. Moderate embellishment is fine, but untruthfulness isn’t and will only backfire on your brand in the end.
2. Remember that Everything Reflects on Your Brand
Every single story you tell, every single word you use, and every single message you convey – everything reflects on your brand. After people see a piece of content released by your brand, they’ll never be able to think of the piece without the brand in mind, and vice versa.
3. Be “Up Close and Personal” When it Fits
“Up close and personal” is a popular storytelling technique because that’s what brand stories are (usually) all about: you. Nine times out of 10, your brand story will be quite personal.
Not only will it reflect on your brand, but it will also reflect on you as the writer of the story or on the founder if you’re ghostwriting for him.
4. Be Professional When it Fits
Sometimes, with some brands, the only way to go is professional. The up close and personal style just might not fit with your niche. It’s rare, but it happens.
Under those circumstances, you need to make sure that your story remains professional and formal. You might not like it, but sometimes that’s what’s necessary.
5. Incorporate Brand History
Who were you before your brand? How did your brand come to be? When did all these happen?
There needs to be a historical aspect to your storytelling. Some businesses even use a timeline on their about page to display how they’ve grown as a brand over the years, and I believe it to be a very effective technique.
6. Show the Expert Behind the Brand
The founder (or co-founders) of a brand are the experts on whose wisdom and creativity the brand was founded. They should take preeminence in your storytelling.
7. Don’t Forget the Future
Just as important as your brand history is your brand future. What does the future hold in store for your business? What new products do you plan to come out with? How do you plan to engage your customers in the future?
Answer those questions in your stories.
8. Use Statistics
Few things lend more weight or credibility to any piece of content than statistics. Real, concrete statistics on how the market was before your brand entered the industry (or anything else that’s relevant) can add a whole lot of weight to your story.
9. Tell it Everywhere
If you limit your brand story to the confines of your about page, you might as well have never written it. Get your story out there! Tell it everywhere – social media, on guest posts, and as many other relevant place as you can to get the word out on your brand.
10. Use Different Forms of Media
Text can get boring if it’s the only form of media you use in your brand marketing campaign. Sometimes brand stories are told better in different forms of multimedia.
A timeline-based infographic, for example, is a good choice. A YouTube video can be even better. A cheaper (but still effective) option is a slideshow presentation uploaded to SlideShare.
11. Profile Your Employees
There are quite a few things that I love about some corporate websites, but one of the aspects I love most is the “team” page – a page that profiles the various employees that work for your business.
Obviously, you can’t profile every single employee if you’re a multinational, 100+ employee corporation. But if you are a small to mid-sized business with fewer than 15-20 employees, you should be easily able to create bite-sized profiles for each of your employees.
There are few better ways to get your readers to learn about your business.
12. Use Your Customer Persona
Your buyer persona is useful for so many different things – your marketing, your customer support, and of course, your storytelling.
You can use your buyer persona to discover how your target audience would react to different elements in your brand story. Customize the story to match your audience’s likings (but remember to make sure that everything is still true).
13. Cut What Needs Cutting
Now, let’s be honest: some parts of your brand story are going to be boring. That’s just how it always will be.
If those parts aren’t absolutely crucial to the overall story, skip them.
14. Give it a Plot
Every conventional story has a plot. Every brand story needs one two.
Elements of a plot include an initial conflict/problem (an unsolved problem in the market), rising action (how the entrepreneur thought about solving the problem and why he/she did so), climax (the creation of the product), and falling action + conclusion (the growth of your brand and its future plans).
15. Use Appropriate Tenses
When you’re writing the story, it’s important not to forget the technical details. Remember to use right tense (past, present, future) whenever appropriate.
Storytelling is absolutely vital to your brand. It’s a bridge between your business and your target audience. Without it, your brand is reduced to little more than just another online entity.
Which of these storytelling techniques do you think is most effective. Let us know in the comments below!
This is a well written article that covers a simple yet important topic quite well. Thanks for writing it.
No problem, Scott, glad you found it useful!
I’m just curious how you square “authenticity” with “moderate embellishment.” One is truth; the other is, well, not quite the truth.
Sorry, but it would seem as though I didn’t make my point very clear. :)
When I say authenticity, what I mean is showing you as yourself — letting your brand and personality be clear in your writing/storytelling. The embellishment refers more to the actual details of your stories, not about how you write them. For instance, a little exaggeration when you tell a story (a LITTLE, mind you), is often a good thing, provided that you’re writing it for a purpose like spicing up a blog post, not if absolute truth is necessary.
So, in conclusion, authenticity refers to your writing personality while “moderate embellishment” (probably a poor choice of words, looking back ;) ) refers to the story’s details.
How old are you young man?
Very informative post for Digital Marketing.