A good story

Once upon a time

“Do you want to know how to double your sales and quadruple your advance? “asks Doug Stevenson, president of Story Theater International.

“You better sell selling success story than describing the features and benefits of your product or service. A story, and it is sold. People love stories. “

Whether or not you’re a fan of Mad Men, the ” story telling ” or “the art of telling stories ” has always been used by brands to deliver a story to their customers. This process is about trying to bring out one or more stories with a high power of seduction and conviction.

Far from publicity, the result is a greater consumer adherence. By playing with emotions, the customer integrates the brand’s history, values and promise in a lastly manner.

“A narrative is the key to everything,” confirms the pollster Mr. Stanley Greenberg.

Whether it is used for a product launch, for news, the story telling creates a commitment and a strong link between the brand and its customers by allowing them to become protagonists of the story.

According to Evan Cornog, professor of journalism at Columbia University, “the key of American leadership is, in large measure, the storytelling.”

The story telling also helps to differentiate, to build a “sympathy” capital among its customers, to promote strong customer’s identification with the brand, to capture their attention or foster the interaction among the various parties.

“A good story”. This is, according to the strategists of the Democratic Party, what failed in John Kerry’s presidential election in the US in 2004.

The story telling is used as a key differentiator by most multinational companies that made Interbrand’s list of most powerful brands in the world.

In his book, Storytelling, Christian Salmon writes: ” Whether you want to carry out commercial negotiations or sign a peace treaty with rival factions , launching a new product or make significant changes acceptable to a work collective, including his own dismissal, design a video game or consolidate democracy in a country of the former Soviet Union … , methodology , stakeholders , financing , timing are the same and are always based on the modus operandi of storytelling which became the basics of the ideology taught to politicians and business leaders. Storytelling gradually invades disciplines as diverse as sociology, economics, law, psychology, education, neuroscience, artificial intelligence … .”

Today, this tool is even more powerful thanks to blogs, websites, social networks and other platforms that keep the emotion alive by allowing direct interactions with the social communities. Customers get involved and become story-tellers themselves.

Different types of history

People have always used great myths to explain the universe and organize chaos. The Bible is a collection of stories.

According to Christian Salmon,

“In reality-TV shows, as on the video game console, on the screens of mobile phones and computers, from the bedroom to the car, daily life is constantly wrapped in a narrative thread or a veil that filter perceptions, stimulates emotions, organizes multi-sensory responses; this is what management researchers conceptualize as “drawn experiences.”

Whether you decide to use a customer testimonial, a springboard story, a metaphor, an anecdote or a speech, a real groundwork needs to be done on the key messages and their sequencing in order to create good momentum and engagement with the consumers.

The traditionally known trilogy in storytelling is ” problem recognition/analysis/solution recommendation.”

However, today, faced with a modern audience and a huge mass of information, Steve Denning – who theorized the usage of storytelling in communication – advises the following trilogy:

  • Capture the attention
  • Stimulate the desire for change
  • Convince by using reasoned arguments

The different stages of Storytelling:

  • Incarnation by highlighting of one or more key figures
  • Description of a particular context and plot implementation
  • Appearance of a disruptive element with a complex or conflicting situation that prevent a priori the key figures to achieve their goals / ambitions
  • An aspiration, a quest, a goal to overcome obstacles
  • A happy ending for the characters highlighted in the story.

Unlike a conventional argument (based solely on logic), the storytelling purpose is to appeal to the consumer’s emotions so that he can build himself the path that will lead him to the logic of our argument, namely the solution to the problem (solution that our product or service integrates of course).

The narrative style

Regarding the narration’s style several technical elements should be used, such as:

  • A dynamic story, action
  • Beautiful images, colour and other elements that will stimulate his 5 senses
  • Emotions: passion, joy, sadness, nostalgia, curiosity…
  • An appropriate lexical field of words
  • Suspense and surprise
  • A simple, accessible and fluid language
  • Experiences that are similar to his own experiences
  • A confident, positive and/or humorous tone
  • A story about HIM (vs. yourself)
  • Ancient myths, parables, legends, movie scenes, stories for children
  • User stories of the product/service

Captivated by the storytelling style, the consumer will let his emotions show and become an active player. According to Sébastien Durand “emotion makes us more receptive”, and the spectator is more likely to receive the message.

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