Once upon a time. These few words conjure up tales of dragons, knights and fantastic adventures. This is the “go to” phrase for almost any storytelling situation. Many people don’t consider themselves storytellers and if a person does consider themselves a storyteller, rarely do they see this art form as anything other than entertainment. However, storytelling can be a wonderful business tool to improve marketing, interoffice communication, morale and customer service.
We are all aware that a good story can make us feel happy, sad, energized or inspired. The reason behind those emotions can be found in science. Our bodies create a hormone called oxytocin in the hypothalamus portion of our brain. Oxytocin, sometimes called the “hugging hormone” or the “love hormone”, is very powerful. It plays a major role in childbirth, breastfeeding and human intimacy. For the purpose of storytelling however, it is what allows us to empathize with a storyteller or the characters in a story. The better the story, the more oxytocin produced, the stronger the bond between the audience and the storyteller. In our case, the better the story the stronger the relationship between the business and their customers.
The first step in harnessing the power of storytelling for your business is to…find your story. Was your business created from your own sweat and toil? Is it a business that has been a part of your family for generations? Or did you see a need in the community and found a way to fill that need? After recognizing your origin story, the next step is to uncover your “Why”. Why do you do what you do? This is a powerful thing. Why do we do what we do? Whatever your reason, this is the part of your story that will make people, not only aware of your business, but care about your business.
Now it is time to tell your story. When marketing your story decide first what is the best way to reach your desired audience. This will allow you to decide the length of your story. If you don’t think that a story can be squeezed into a 30 second commercial, then I invite you to think back on your favorite Super Bowl commercials from the past. My guess is that the ads that sprang to mind were commercials that told a story. The Budweiser frogs, Nissan’s “dad” commercials and the Coke Polar Bears are just a few. These commercials tell a story and are memorable because of that fact.
While you might say that some cute polar bears don’t tell Coke’s story, in a way they do. They are about bringing people (or bears) closer together. This idea has been a major philosophy in Coke’s marketing for years. Once you’ve established the length of the story, make sure that it has a solid beginning (who, when and where), middle (the main message) and end (a message that wraps everything together). Now tell your story. The End.