Notes and Quotes About Telling Stories

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Storytelling - Content StrategyWay back in the dark days before the internet was everywhere, and people didn’t have much to do after the sun went down, storytelling was the greatest of arts. People gathered to hear many different kinds of stories; the events of the day, traditional tales, news from other places. Some stories persisted, and were told over and over again, with the best being refined into the epics we know and still love.

From storytelling come many of our most important communications practices. The strength of narrative, of information becoming memorable either by novelty of detail or precision of presentation is undeniable. Unfortunately, few companies take advantage of the power of telling stories in creative ways.

So, here are some quotes about storytelling – and notes about the subjects they suggest – to encourage you to consider moving away from boring facts and toward enchanting stories.

Telling a story takes the audience past the facts.

Great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences.
A great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.
Great stories make a promise. They promise fun, safety or a shortcut. The promise needs to be bold and audacious. It’s either exceptional or it’s not worth listening to.

Seth Godin on How to tell a great story

If you’ve ever read a technical document, or the manual for your refrigerator, you know that technical writing is important (because the details and facts do matter in that setting), but they’re often so boring it’s painful. There’s simply no reason to stick to cold hard facts in marketing.

By creating stories that draw audiences in, we do the work that the flat facts can’t; we encourage investment into our businesses, and create a sense of vitality for what may otherwise be boring products. This is one of the things inbound marketing is best at; using real information about your business, its customers, their needs, and how you solve them to open up the space that’s needed to tell excellent stories.

Great marketing stories rely on the hallmarks of great narrative.

Great brand stories are not objective. In fact, the most successful ones are highly subjective.
Is Snapple really made from the best stuff on earth? Of course not. However, millions of people buy into this story every single day.

John Bonini of HubSpot,
on the difference between blogging and storytelling

One of the many secrets of storytelling is continuity. Another is suspense – but we’ll get to that later on.

Brands – such as Snapple, mentioned above – use the same elements over very long periods to continue their stories beyond the 30 second spot. Catch phrases, jingles, repeated design elements such as logos – these are all parts of your brand’s continuity. Whether you planned on it or not, these elements tell the story of your company everywhere they’re seen. So why not take command of them, and use them as part of your story, with purpose?

Building a real sense of storytelling is about making connections.

We found out this simple rule that maybe you guys have all heard before, but it took us a long time to learn it. […] What should happen between every beat that you put down is either the word therefore or but.
So what I’m saying is that you come up with an idea, and this happens – and therefore – this happens. But! This happens. Therefore, this happens.

Trey Parker one of the creators of South Park,
quoted by Tony Zhou on structuring a video essay

It’s easy enough to create a small story and pack it up as a television commercial, or make it a visual expression with a banner or advertisement – companies do that all the time. Moving beyond this, however, involves that continuity thing in a slightly different way.

So you create an ad, to run on TV. It tells a bit of the story, but what then? Is it the whole message, or chapter one? Where do people go from there? Maybe they go to your website, where chapter two happens on your blog. Which leads to chapter three in the form of an eBook – which can be the chapter three for many of your stories across the web and beyond, a gathering point for all of your audiences.

The great thing about telling stories as online marketing is in part that those stories aren’t linear by nature. Your blog can lead to a product offering – which can point to YouTube, and back to another blog entry. You can direct attention down any pathway you choose – or leave multiple paths open so your audience can play Choose Your Own Adventure with your content. it all works, as long as you’re leaving queues.

Great stories don’t give you everything at once – your marketing shouldn’t either.

Luck is everything… My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I’m fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn’t make a good suspense film.

Alfred Hitchcock on suspense

There’s a misconception about content marketing, many freemium products, and basically everything on the internet; the problem is that people believe they’d rather have everything handed to them as they desire it. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to narrative.

Suspense (I told you we’d get to it) is the thing that keeps people going until the end of the story. A great clickbait headline might draw people in, but it’s up to the article’s own merits to keep them there, and direct them to action after they’re done reading. There’s got to be a pay-off, if you want people to be happy that they invested time in your content and in your brand.

This is a big part of strong content strategy – drawing the audience along through the path you set out. They won’t need it all right there – your audience just needs enough to know where to put their next step.

There’s no rule that says you ever have to give people all the information when telling a story – or which details to offer in which order. It’s up to you, as the storyteller, to find out what will compel your audience to action – when to provide that compulsion, and when to hold it back.

That is, unless you want to ignore narrative and storytelling all together and read another technical manual.

Think about it and get back to us; what stories do you want to tell?

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Source: Hello BLOG