"No longer do we talk just about the product – the 'what'. Now we are communicating the 'how' and the 'why', too, trying to dig out stories that help connect our company to our customers and prospective customers." – Roland Buerk
Buerk, head of global corporate communications at Nissan, emphasised the importance (and power) of storytelling to PR week.
Here at Salt & Shein, we too believe that storytelling is an important tool communication professionals in Australia need to start taking full advantage of. Here's a rundown of the benefits of storytelling, and how to tell stories effectively.
Why tell stories?
1. They make your company seem more personable – If you stop telling customers about the product itself, but instead start writing stories about how your customers are actually using your services, your company will seem far more personable. You will show you're bothering to get to know your clients, and instead of a one-way conversation where you merely talk at your customers, you can now have a two-way approach that involves listening as well.
Likewise, writing about an employee who has done a lot for charity, or ran a marathon, will let your audience know that you're not just a faceless corporation that wants to make money, but that you're making a difference, and care about your workforce.
2. You can get to know your audience – When you go to your customers for stories, you will get to know them more, including finding out exactly how your product is being used and in what situation. This will enable you to create better products in the future, that cater to your audience's specific needs.
3. Creates customer loyalty and retention – Customers are much more likely to stick with a brand they know cares both about them and their employees, especially one that's giving them valuable information on how people are using the product.
4. Leaves a lasting impression – Your target audience are constantly getting told about new products, and they're so used to it that a lot of them will forget it all straight away. If you do something different, however, like storytelling, they are much more likely to remember you and your services.
How should we go about storytelling?
So, how should we actually go about writing stories? Firstly, you need to get some ideas. Your business is a good place to start. Who started it and why? How difficult was it, and what did the founder learn from the process? Then, think about your staff. They are all individual people with different interests. Talk to them, find out what they're up to, and use them as a source for some good stories.
Turn also to your customers. They have a whole range of different backgrounds, and you can both directly and indirectly link them to your product. Just make sure you know who the hero is – it's all about the people, not the product.
Know who the hero is – it's all about the people, not the product.
Make sure your stories have a visual element – take photos of the people involved, or ask if they have any video footage of how they've used their product. If, for instance, you are a jeweller who sells engagement rings, you could use footage from a customers' wedding. Just remember to be creative.
How can we measure the power of storytelling?
Leading communication firm Edelman tracks story telling over three phases. The first measures engagement through views and shares on social media. The second phase tracks loyalty and trust, and the final one measures the direct impact, for example, through rising sales since storytelling began.
The rise of storytelling shows us just how important it is to stay on top of developments in communication, something Salt & Shein has been doing for years. For more information, please visit our insights page.