When I was writing my book, Storytelling for Startups, in 2015, I scrambled to get it published after recognizing that storytelling was poised to become a huge trend.
And while storytelling is super-trendy and probably over-hyped, it is amazingly important. Brands that tell good stories attract the spotlight and customers while building awareness and a reputation as creative, unique and different.
Brands that don’t tell stories are dead on arrival. They struggle to generate interest, excitement or a market presence. They don’t make an impact. They aren’t memorable.
Given the importance of storytelling, it is a mystery why many brands are bad storytellers. Maybe it’s not part of their DNA. Maybe, they don’t have people with the right skills. Maybe, storytelling doesn’t matter to them, at least right now.
One of the biggest challenges with storytelling is it requires a different approach to sales and marketing.
Instead of talking about features and pricing, stories are customer-centric. They’re focused on the interests and needs of the audience. They deliver answers to customers’ biggest questions. It’s all about the customer, not about the product.
Brands that thrive at storytelling such as Airbnb and GoPro understand the need to focus on the customers. They recognize that good stories reflect what their audiences do, need and think.
When a customer sees a story from Airbnb, for example, it resonates because they see themselves in the story, even if their travel plans are aspirational.
It is also important for brands not be intimated by storytelling. Rather than being afraid or cautious, brands should enthusiastically embrace storytelling.
They will make mistakes. Their stories may not resonate or work. But they will learn about what works and what the audience wants. It’s a lot like a comedian who tries different jokes and keeps the ones that get a good laugh.
Good storytellers are constantly learning and discovering new ways to connect with their audiences. They’re never completely satisfied, which means they are always looking to improve.
Bottom line: Storytelling matters. It matters a lot. In a multi-tasking world overwhelmed by data and content, storytelling is an absolute necessity for any brand looking to rise above the noise.