I’m a big advocate of the power of storytelling. storytelling

Storytelling is how I have attempted to differentiate myself from the army of other marketing consultants. Storytelling is the theme of a book I self-published last year, Storytelling for Startups.

When I started worked on the book in mid-2013, few people were talking about corporate storytelling. Content marketing was all the rage as brands rushed to become publishers to drive brand awareness and lead nurturing.

By late-2014, there was a growing amount of chatter about storytelling. My thesis is content marketing began to lose its novelty. It was no longer bright and shiny but an integral part of how companies were  marketing and sales.

As a result, marketers started looking for a new and shiny concept to drive engagement. They landed upon storytelling because it played nicely with content marketing and it was a concept familiar to everyone.

Suddenly, storytelling became the New Black.

Everyone began to talk about the importance of storytelling to engage target audiences and break through the clutter. Almost overnight, storytelling became the belle of the ball.

As a storyteller, it’s great to see growing awareness and appreciation for storytelling. At the same time, however, the hype around storytelling is wearing thin. There is so much talk about storytelling that it has become an overly-used buzzword. People talk about storytelling but they are increasingly less clear about what is involved and why it matters. 

To me, corporate storytelling is marketing and sales that engages, educates and entertains. It reflects the needs, interests, aspirations, fears and motivations of target audiences. It is marketing and sales that inspires, intrigues and delivers insight.

As important, good storytelling gets people to do things. It drives leads, purchases, downloads, sign-ups, sharing and brand awareness. Storytelling is an integral part of a company’s marketing and sales engine.

And let’s be clear about something else: storytelling doesn’t happen everywhere. It is an important distinction because there seems to be a sense that storytelling must be embraced by customer service, account management, email marketing, etc.

There are better and more obvious vehicles to drive storytelling. The no-brainer list can include:

  • Website
  • Blog post
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Sales pitches (Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything” is a great read about using stories when pitching,)

Let’s be clear, storytelling is alive and well. It isn’t going anywhere because it is how startups engage target audiences, establish a brand personality and differentiates themselves. Companies have always used stories to stand out from the crowd, and they will continue to do so.

Maybe it’s time to stop using “storytelling” for everything. In my work, I have started to use “customer-centric marketing” as a better way to talk about what really matters.

Some final storytelling ideas: According to research, women fall in love more easily with men who are good storytellers. Meanwhile, Vooza created an entertaining video (below)  about how storytelling has become an over-used buzzword:

If you want to jump-start your startup marketing, I can help you make it happen – everything from messaging and brand positioning to strategic planning and content development. Here’s how are the different ways we can work together.