Digital Marketing

Storytelling: what it is and how to apply it to your agency’s daily life

Storytelling is the ability to convey content through elaborate plot and engaging narrative, using words and audiovisual resources; find out how your agency can take advantage of it!

Storytelling is the ability to tell stories using an elaborate plot, engaging narratives, and audiovisual resources. The technique, whose character is persuasive, helps to promote your business and sell your services indirectly. It can be applied in content production, sales and consulting. 

Once upon a time there was an agency that managed to simplify all its work with storytelling actions. Utopia? Of course not! From the cavemen, who recounted the exploits (or disasters!) of their hunts around the campfire, to Friday’s happy hour,  humanity loves a good story.

You sure have a great story to tell. Where did the idea for your name come from, or where did your last name come from? What places have you lived? In our life, we are the ones who write our own cases.

And why not tell stories to make things clearer in business and content production as well? Just because you are an expert on a subject and have been dealing with it for years, it doesn’t mean that your Leads, prospects and customers can retain and understand that information. Creating a narrative to talk to them can be much more enlightening.

The storytelling facilitates the way we communicate for years, and we sure can do a lot for you too. So, pay attention to the next few lines and prepare your pen to jot down the hacks Blue World City is going to share.

What is storytelling

Storytelling is the ability to tell stories using audiovisual resources in addition to words. The technique helps to promote your business and sell your services indirectly, with a persuasive character. Storytelling is often used in TV, marketing and advertising.

To make the concept clearer, let’s divide it into two parts, using an example: the solar system.

Let’s say we want to tell stories about the sun.

  1. STORY: the sun itself.
  2. TELLING: are the ways we’ll talk about it. We have several versions to tell what the sun is like.

Mercury, because of its proximity, would say that the sun is too hot! An infernal heat.

Earth would call him Astro Rei. There is a greater balance because of the seasons.

Neptune would complain: “the Sun is too far away. It’s too cold here!”

See how we have different versions of the same story? This means that storytelling can be customized according to the audience.

Understanding the triad that makes up Storytelling

The Storytelling support tripod is based on 3 elements, which must always be connected:

  1. Narrative Techniques: at this stage, the conceptual paths that will support the content are defined;
  2. Narrative Content: The best known and most explored part of Storytelling is what brings the technique to life;
  3. Fluidity: For a story to be consistent, it needs to be continuous. It does not seek to be interruptive, but rather to create experiences and moments that bring its audiences together.

The thousand and one nights… of stories!

Does anyone remember Xerazade, from The Thousand and One Night? This ancient story from the Middle East tells us that a king, Xariar, is betrayed. That’s why Xariar marries a new woman every day and has her killed after the wedding night, in fear of another betrayal. Until the time comes for Xerazade to marry the king. The difference is that she applied storytelling.

Xerazade tells stories that catch the king’s attention with the following formula: at dawn, she would interrupt the story to continue the following night. In this way, Xariar postpones the girl’s death, trapped by the stories, until he gives up on executing her.

This same idea of ​​using Storytelling can be used with examples that answer possible gaps, such as:

  • How can I teach my children not to accept gifts from strangers? Read “Little Red Riding Hood” to them;
  • And when I want to reinforce that telling the truth is always good? Tell the story of “Pinocchio”;
  • How to avoid judgments? Present “Beauty and the Beast”… And so on.

And so? How could storytelling help your business day today? First of all, it is important to remember that Storytelling is not just about creating a character and creating a little story, often without goals. Storytelling has to have a context and an objective.

The 4 Ways to Start Good Storytelling in Business

Who has never stalled when starting a campaign or delayed starting that project, which seemed to be a lot of work?

To get away from moments when you “spend” your ideas, (in order to focus your creativity on the right insight), we share the 4 main ways to structure your stories. They are very actionable models that provide a good starting point for any brainstorming. Are they:

1. Product Placement

Include stories that are related to the use of your product or the purpose of the brand in the narratives.

2. Narratology

Develop a story to explain why the company (or product) is the solution or a market reference.

3. Brand Personality

Use archetypes (mental models) that position your brand in your customers’ minds.

4. Pop Culture

Absorb pop culture references to work with and relate them to your product or company.

A very cool example was an action taken at an agency, when he received the following briefing: engaging the audience from 13 to 18 years old, from content that had a connection with the film’s title (Seven Wishes) and generated a “buzz” in the media.

Analyzing the best structure to focus on brainstorming, it was decided that the most assertive would be to bring some element of pop culture to the target audience to trigger specific triggers.

Orbital Contents

There is also another very important technique to channel creativity and facilitate the development of actions outside the curve, which is the use of orbital layers (relax, we are not talking about chemistry).

When talking about this type of orbital layer, it is understood that these are the levels where you can relate the image of your brand or product.

To work with layers, just imagine the universes in which you are inserted. The first universe is your own product and then comes your segment. An example is Resultados Digitais itself, which helps in the evolution of its partners with the Agencies Blog (segment) and thus enables those who work with the RD Station (product).

After these first two layers, there are the habits of those who use it, the context in which this product is inserted and the values ​​that the brand conveys.

A company that works in an exemplary way with its orbital layers is Red Bull, contemplating everything from the relationship of an energy drink with extreme sports to the “wings” that you gain by consuming the product.

Much more than a name and a logo, [a brand] is an organization’s promise to a customer to deliver what the brand represents not only in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive and social benefits. (David Aaker)

And how to choose the best form of content?

So far you’ve seen the three macro-steps that comprise Storytelling, you’ve known the four main ways to guide your brainstorming, and you’ve also known the layers to channel all your creativity.

So, you just need to understand the main types of content to motivate your audience’s engagement! They serve to streamline decision making and increase results. The main types of content are:

Informative

It is one that adds value from knowledge. It is produced to help that prospect who is wanting to know more about your product. Work with tips, hacks and usage recommendations. Dedicate yourself to teaching this potential customer. Why not put a video on your website home explaining your services and showing cases, for example?

Service

These are content that serve to help your audience. The logic behind service content is to simplify people’s lives, solve a problem or even save time. A good example was the #PreparaPraMim campaign, whereby tweeting the ingredients available in their fridge + the hashtag, the user received a ready-made recipe!

Communication

This content creates a sense of community around the elements or the product itself. Working with this aspect is very simple: develop actions that welcome people and generate spontaneous communication. It also provides scope for stimulating influencers and bringing common interests together.

Training

In this type of content, the intention is to promote experiences to the audience. Experience is a trend that will last for a long time. So, it’s good to invest in content that has meaning and brings outstanding moments for those who interact.

And you should always be very careful that the content doesn’t seem forced or disruptive. They need to be carefully developed, as audiences are increasingly demanding.

Storytelling in practice

1. In content production

I don’t even need to talk: before producing content know who you want to reach with it. Also define what tone of voice will be used. I use the rule: “is it complicated to make people understand or does the text need something to engage the reader? I will exemplify with a story”.

There is no more practical example than comparing the Solar System with Storytelling made lines ago. That’s where we think of an important figure of speech: the metaphor. Metaphor is an implicit comparison with something.

Often, when I correct lectures or texts from friends and colleagues, what is missing is to mature that content with metaphors. They can grip the reader and facilitate understanding.

Why not get the content corrected by someone who has no idea what it is, like a relative?

If you still find it difficult to fit metaphors and stories in the middle of the content, I suggest you write the entire text, raw, and then include ways that make it easier to understand.

And, above all, use your creativity! Produce different content! It doesn’t matter if there are several articles on this topic.

Another important point is: be true. I never forget the movie Good Morning Vietnam (1987). Adrian Cronauer (the character played by Robin Williams) is a radio DJ in the middle of the Vietnam War. The big and simple difference for the rest of the broadcasters was: he spoke and cherished the truth, even with the stories he told. Remember this!

Note: fiction is also valid, as long as it does not fall into the side of falsehood.

2. In sales

First of all: do I understand what I sell?

If I am a partner agency of Resultados Digitais and I bring five new clients to RD Station, am I ready to sell this idea? How am I telling this story since this is a complex sale?

Just because we are subject matter experts, we cannot assume that prospects speak and understand our language. Therefore, I believe that four points are fundamental:

  • Time: if we have exactly 15 minutes, how are we going to talk to this person and get our message across? Remember that Xerazade knew he had the entire dawn. Sometimes we can’t tell great stories for as long as we have. Pay attention to the aforementioned idea of ​​short stories and metaphors.
  • Know the subject:  let’s talk about RD Station? Okay. And how are we going to talk about the software to this prospect? We have to understand how we are going to talk to this person. Anticipate disagreements. Exemplify and facilitate explanations. Facilitate “dating” with the tool through a personalized speech.
  • Environment and interest: how many people will be on the other side? Who are they? What is the level of importance in the company? Are they seeing your service as the ultimate salvation from the crisis or are they a success story in your area?
  • Purpose: What is the purpose of this process in general? Is there a defined funnel to facilitate consultative sales meetings?

Thus, in a quick survey of the four points mentioned, we were able to fit some form of Storytelling.

3. In consulting

A consultant is a facilitator. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a consultant. He has a duty to remove stones from the path, remove mountains and achieve the expected goals.

It’s impossible not to remember one of my favorite movies: Dead Poets Society.  In it (coincidentally) the same Robin Williams plays a poetry teacher, John Keating. As a consultant to his clients, the teacher has to share content with his students. The difference is that the orthodox teacher brought unusual methods of transmitting his knowledge to the students: classes in the school’s garden, for example, making the students understand and think for themselves. This is what we call pedagogy: the strategies and methods for teaching.

Do your agency consultants understand the importance of a speech adapted to the clients’ reality? Or do they follow a pattern that is more like a robot?

And you, consultant? Among the scope of work, what is the theme that customers find it most difficult to understand? (I do not judge here the quality of the consultancy, but the complexity of the topic related to the knowledge of clients).

For example: if you’re going to explain what a customer’s Shopping Journey is, how about telling a story?

“Mr. João, today we are going to talk about the Shopping Journey. First of all, I ask: do you know anyone who asked his wife to marry him on the first date? So it is! With the Shopping Journey it is also like this: let’s go little by little…

The “Learning and Discovery” stage is compared to the day the couple met. You, little by little, discover who this person is.

In “Problem Recognition” the flea appears behind the ear. Is it time to go a step further with this girl?

In “Consideration of the Solution” we are considering marriage: how much would a new apartment cost, for example?

And finally, in the “Decision to Buy” step, it’s time to ask her to marry me. That is the final decision.”

Storytelling for consultants can be accompanied by human situations and their feelings. This makes understanding easier.

The example of the marriage with Seu João could become an example related to sports with Seu José, and comic books with Dona Maria.

Know who you are dealing with and make this understanding easier! That way you save time.

Conclusion

What we can extract from this blog post is a great action plan to apply storytelling to any imaginable action!

Action plan:

  • Define the best (or best) strategies to tell your story
  • See how far you can explore your content
  • Find the best way to produce this content

This way, you have a line to optimize your creativity and deliver services out of the box, with strategies that serve as a great outline to maximize your results!

It is important to remember that storytelling, in any of the areas, can never generate overtime for the reader, prospect or customer. Time is sacred. Do not abuse the duration of Storytelling, but know how to fit it in the best way possible.

If you adopt the practices we commented on here, tell us the result in the comments!