The Power of Storytelling

I can remember as a kid my parents reading stories to me.  I would imagine what the main characters looked like, what their mannerisms looked like, and what the scenery looked like.  In short, I filled in all of the thousands of nuances it took to translate the author’s descriptions into my own version of reality.  Storytelling promotes this very personal process and as a result, creates emotional attachments to the narrative.   This is a powerful and personal process that we as humans yearn for.  Storytelling in all its forms like publishing, entertainment, healthcare or tax preparation services are just one of those industries that will never not have an audience. 

So how does this translate into the marketing industry?  Think about product life cycle.  The basic theory says at product introduction, adoption tends to be slow but steady.  You may get those early adopters at first that always want to try out new things.  As adoption increases, you enter growth phase. Eventually, maturity hits and sales start to plateau.  As sales start to slow product enters decline stage. 

Advertisers have known about this fundamental process for decades.  As a result, the majority of ads have a singular focus on product ready to be deployed at just the right stage to boost sales.  There will always be demand for ads such as these, but it’s important to understand, they take a short term view of marketing.  While they may succeed to push product, they fail to create long term attachment to brand.  This is where storytelling comes in to play.  Storytelling doesn’t focus singularly on product promotion, instead it dives into creating a narrative of company culture, values, and behavior.  If done with success, it creates long term emotional attachment to company brand, irrespective of various product launches. 

There are countless successful examples.  The famous Apple Macintosh computer commercial from 1984.  Red Bull’s Stratos space jump story of Felix Baumgartner. One of the most poignant examples of storytelling we have ever seen can be found in our own backyard here in Baltimore.  Chris Wilson’s story of perseverance is nothing short of inspiring.  Impoverished, disillusioned, imprisoned, reincarnated, redeemed, this story has it all.   Many times, deep personal experiences are the source of the best stories, no matter how they were developed, based on success or redemption.