Storytelling in marketing, lose the boring blogs

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storytelling in marketing

I admit it. I suffered from BBS – boring blog syndrome.

Here are some examples of my earlier blogs.

No matter how many times I started writing. How much valuable the content or how much knowledge I wanted to share. The result was a series of dry descriptions.

Reading my blog was a bit like eating a desiccated cream cracker … with no water to hand.

Dry.

So what’s changed? How am I learning to improve my blog writing ability? Will this help you with your marketing communications? What is the cure for boring blog syndrome?

The answer is storytelling; superb storytelling.

In particular, storytelling in marketing.

How did I learn to start applying storytelling in marketing? Will what I’ve learned be useful to you?

Here’s my story.

Learning about storytelling in marketing

I’m a member of the excellent Riverside Communicators group, a Toastmasters club. We meet to practise and improve our public speaking, and have great fun in the process.

One of the most accomplished and entertaining speakers in the group is Glen Savage.

His speeches are always engaging, often very funny and always have a point to make or something you  learn.

Now Glen recently delivered a workshop on storytelling at one of our Toastmaster meetings. What a revelation. No wonder my blogs had been so boring!

“Aha, I thought to myself. If I apply the storytelling principles Glen uses in his speeches to my marketing – no more boring blogs. Yipee!”

Not only blogs, but all types of marketing communications can benefit from storytelling.

[You’ll have to read to the end of this blog to judge if I’ve applied the techniques I’ve learned effectively. Please leave a comment to let me know how I can improve my storytelling.]

So I’d like to share with you Glen’s storytelling tips.

Storytelling – Glen’s tips

Tip 1: Tell a story to make a point

The first tip is to structure your story with the 5 Cs, and to include emotion and use dialogue.

Context

“Context is the piece of the story that tells readers what the presented information means to them and why they should care. Some stories shared nowadays are fact dumps or filled with marketing words that don’t add much to a story other than more words.” Business storytelling tips

I think its fair to say that my blogs to date have been “fact dumps” rather than engaging stories. I’m attempting to change that.

Characters

“The human element of brand storytelling is huge. Therefore, brands need to be strategic in choosing the characters who feature in the story. Connecting to your audience is key.” All Good Tales 

I used to simply focus mostly on relating facts. I’ve found citing characters, in this example Glen, adds interest and relatability.

Curiosity

“When we’re curious, we can find something meaningful that hasn’t been found before—a new turn of a phrase, a new way to consider the customer problem or a different way of viewing the relationship.” How Curiosity makes Brand Storytelling Come to Life

I hope I’ve made you curious to learn more about storytelling in marketing.

Conflict or Challenge

“Conflict. Without conflict, there is no story. Simply put, conflict in a business story is the presentation of a problem followed by a solution. Embracing conflict is key to keeping your audience’s attention, as they become invested in how it will unfold.” Business storytelling tips

My conflict in this story is the conflict with myself!

I’d always regarded “professional writing” as being facts without emotion, otherwise the content wouldn’t be taken seriously. Having sat through numerous deadly PowerPoint presentations I should know better. My challenge is to improve my storytelling skills both written and spoken.

Climax / Change / Conclusion

“How did this character resolve the conflict. How does this story end? What learning lead to a change? This is the last step, to again take your audience to a high — leaving them with an idea that changed your life.” 3 Step Storytelling: Character, Conflict, Climax

We’re not finished yet, so keep reading to judge the ending!

Emotion

Glen also explained in his workshop that stories really come to life when you add emotion into the mix.

“Storytellers in the business world can engage audiences deeply with the right balance of emotion and key facts. ” The importance of emotion and connection in business storytelling

That’s such a great tip.

I’m ecstatic, walking on air, in seventh heaven to have learned it! Too much? OK so you get the picture, its a great tip.

Dialogue

One of Glen’s excellent tips is to use dialogue in storytelling. This “shows” your audience what you mean, rather than just telling them.

“For example, “Our CEO told us that we wanted to be the best at everything, not just sales.”

compared with

“Our CEO said, ‘We don’t just want to be the best at sales. We want to be the best at quality. We want to be the best at service. We want to the best company in the country.’ 3 reasons why dialogue is the critical catalyst to great storytelling

I’ve included dialogue in this post – even if its only me talking to myself.

Tip 2: Include a memorable phrase

When Glen was talking to the Riversiders about his storytelling experiences he sprinkled into his speech a memorable phrase,

You win some … you learn some.

Although I didn’t remember all the points from Glen’s storytelling workshop (yes I had to refer back to my notes to write this) it’s amazing that I could still recall his memorable phrase. A group of researchers at Cornell may have explained the mystery of the catchphrase. 

Tip 3: Don’t retell, relive it

Glen suggested that for storytelling to be really effective it should have a personal element. If you share something of yourself with the reader, a vulnerability, it brings the story to life. “Your flaw is your draw.”

In my case, my flaw was that my blogs were boring!

Tip 4: Be relatable

The fourth tip is to include people in the story that the audience can relate to, that they can have some connection to. This video Pixar – What Makes a Story Relatable  makes some great points to illustrate this.

Tip 5: Start a story file

Collect examples of stories and storytelling you like. You can refer to this file when you’re writing your own stories and using storytelling in marketing.

Have a look at 7 Storytelling Techniques Used by the Most Inspiring TED Presenters

So in conclusion when using storytelling in marketing;

  • who you are talking to?
  • what is the message?
  • why is it of value to the reader /audience?

Glen Savage is a public speaking coach at Purple Speaking Academy.

If you’d like to discuss storytelling or any aspect of your marketing communications, please contact me.

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