I’ve always been a storyteller. The part of my childhood that wasn’t spent writing or reading was spent playing games with endlessly complicated plots. My brother generally left it up to me to decide what we’d get up to… though he often got frustrated with the amount of backstory I liked to cover before we started!
Stories are important to me because I love them. But I’m not unusual in this. Stories are inherently human and they have a place in all our communications, from literature, media and play to business.
Yes, I did say business! Stories are an extremely valuable business tool. They can be used to entertain your audience, build trust, communicate value, create emotion and recruit brand advocates.
Why does this work?
There’s a very key reason behind this, and that’s because we react differently to stories than to any other kind of communication. There’s scientific research to suggest that our brains react rather wonderfully to stories. Instead of just using the parts of our brain that are needed to process facts, when we’re told a story we use the parts of our brain that would be used if we were experiencing the events in the story for ourselves.
Let me give you an example: if I tell you a story about eating an incredible piece of chocolate cake, you would not only use the parts of your brain used for listening and understanding, you’d also use the part usually reserved for taste.
This little scientific quirk makes stories hugely powerful. They can help you to provoke an emotional reaction in your audience. And once your audience is emotionally invested in what you’re offering… they’re much more likely to want to work with you.
Some businesses have obvious stories to work with. The example I always use here is of Toms, the shoe company. On their own, Toms shoes are fairly ordinary slip on trainers.
But then you add story…
The Toms company was born when the founder visited Argentina and befriended children who had no shoes. He wanted to do something to help and so he created a shoe company on the premise that for every pair of shoes bought they would donate a second pair to a child in need. Not only was this an admirable mission in terms of charitable work… it also captured the imagination of the shoe buying public and turned Toms into an internationally successful company.
Your business might not have such a clear story, but you’ll still have one. Once you’ve found it in can do wonders for your communications. Blog posts, social media updates, about pages, product descriptions and service outlines all work far better with added story.
Not sure where to start? Stories are my speciality and I love a challenge. Let’s chat.