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5 Benefits of Storytelling in the Consumer-Driven World

Posted by Alyse Dunn on Tue, Aug 27, 2013

Digital StorytellingCommunication has changed. With the growth of the “Social Market,” businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional mediums—television, print, and radio, to win consumers. Consumers are key players in a social revolution that’s changing the way they speak with each other and with businesses.So, what does this mean for Marketing and Customer Development? The way consumers choose products and services has taken a sharp turn, with more decisions driven by word-of-mouth and experiential benefits. From a Marketing perspective, businesses need to focus on pulling customers in by offering targeted, useful, and engaging content, rather than pushing out broad campaigns.

How can businesses take advantage of this two-way communication and connect with customers in a way that drives loyalty and advocacy? One of the best ways is through storytelling.

The 5 Keys to Storytelling

  • Stories help us understand the world: Throughout history, stories have been the way people make sense of the world. People thrive on stories to help them put things in perspective and to help them navigate the overwhelming amount of data, facts, and realities that confront them. Stories are one of our oldest mechanisms for security, which is why they are so powerful. If a business can use a story to show how a product/service can be beneficial, people will form a stronger connection.

  • It is human nature: When you tell someone about your child or vacation, you don’t tell them your child’s hair color or that the weather was 85.2 degrees. You communicate more emotionally by telling others something funny that your child did or that you went surfing for the first time. People do not operate in the realm of data, it is counter-intuitive to how we are hard-wired, which is why storytelling in business is so powerful. If you want to connect with a person and drive advocacy, your best bet is weaving factual benefits into an even more powerful story.

  • Don’t overwhelm with data: At the end of the day, you are speaking to a person.  People don’t digest data the same way a computer can. Data can be beneficial, but most people are looking for a connection. Apple is a great example of a business that has driven a connection with their customers by weaving data with storytelling, which is one of the reasons they have such high brand loyalty.

  • It is no longer a ‘Business’ connecting with a ‘Consumer’: It is people connecting with people. Businesses need to understand who they are speaking with and cater communications in relevant manner. People will not connect with a business that offers no emotional connection and that doesn’t meet a need.

  • It’s a two-way street: Consumers have a larger say in marketing and branding because the way consumers communicate has shifted. People are listening to other people as opposed to large campaigns. The value of word-of-mouth has soared, and social media allows people to see what others are saying, in real-time. Two-way communication is very powerful. By taking the time to have conversations with consumers, businesses have been able to learn and thrive in the consumer-driven market. This is critical to success and to building both advocacy and loyalty.

Storytelling is a pivotal part of marketing, communications, and business. Without it, consumers find it difficult to connect and advocate for something. Storytelling can and should be used in any business because it can drive loyalty, advocacy, and trust.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a solely data driven business to care for my interests, I would and do trust the businesses who have worked to understand my needs and who have created an emotional connection through the power of stories.

Alyse is a super-star associate at CMB, and a captain of CMB’s Light the Night team to raise money to fight Leukemia.  She is a kid-at-heart, loves Disney’s approach to storytelling, and is a 43 time Disney World visitor.

Join Tauck's Jeremy Palmer, CMB's Judy Melanson and South Street Strategy Group's Mark Carr on September 12th at noon (EDT) for a webinar: Focused Innovation: Creating New Value for a Legacy Brand

Topics: storytelling, consumer insights, social media