You might find yourself in a pattern of thinking that your budget isn’t big enough to produce the same calibre of work of brands like Apple, Nike, AirBNB and more that have begun successfully implementing storytelling techniques in their campaigns. You might also think that you don’t have the same reach so what’s the point or that you just don’t have compelling stories to tell – which just isn’t true. It’s so easy to be inspired by the power of the titans within an industry and just as easy to be discouraged by them.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a huge brand with an incredible budget to tell a great story.
In fact, small businesses have the opportunity to produce content just as good as, if not better, than larger businesses. Follow the same basic principles and you’ll discover that you’ve got a wealth of material just waiting to be discovered. A little bit of digging and an open mind could be just the change your business needs to differentiate itself from the rest.
Take, for example, the creator of Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton. His operation only consists of one person– himself! By simply listening, asking the right questions and being open, he has been able to gain almost eight million followers and tell the unique stories of thousands of people. It’s also important to note that the people he interacts with are complete strangers that he hasn’t known for longer than a day. If he can do it, then surely you can too.
How does he do it? Check out this NPR interview with Brandon Stanton as he goes through his interview process.
As humans, we are hardwired for storytelling. We have been communicating our experiences with one another for thousands of years. The Chauvet Cave in France, featuring some of the earliest known cave drawings, dates back 30,000 years. From there, we gravitated toward written storytelling, with hieroglyphics as one of the earliest forms of written language reaching back more than 5,000 years ago. Fast forward to today and we are just as interested in each other’s experiences as ever before.
Why? What makes us so drawn to stories?
According to Harvard Business Review and a study conducted by Paul J. Zak, our brains release the chemical oxytocin when processing stories, a hormone linked to empathy and bonding.
What does that tell us? That people love to connect. It’s no surprise, we are social creatures. But if this is so obvious, then why aren’t as many brands taking advantage or taking it as seriously? Here’s your chance to stand out in the crowd.
- Listen and ask questions – The stories are there. Your customers all have different experiences and you could be communicating their unique stories to promote your own brand. You might even want to designate a specific person as the lookout and discover if customers or employees have anything interesting to share.
- People trust people – Let the story speak for itself. Research shows that 84 percent of Millennials don’t like or trust traditional advertising. So what can be done? Against instincts, take yourself out of the spotlight and instead, focus on the consumer or employee with the story. If you do it right, you won’t need to add too much. This is definitely a “less is more” situation.
- Be aware of your audience – Spend some time getting to know the people with whom you’re trying to connect. It might help to create an audience persona to better help you craft your content.
- Be consistent – Make sure that your communication is consistent across all channels. Brand awareness can be promoted through the use of the same fonts, logos and colors. It will pay off big time to organize your messaging so your audience can follow along.
So with these simple starter guidelines, go forth my public relations friends and conquer the storytelling landscape with pride. You’ve always had it in you.