Is storytelling the new content marketing?

Storytelling isn’t dead.

In fact, according to Carlos Gil, it may even be the new content marketing. 

Have you ever gotten lost in a book or a movie? Become so enthralled that for a brief moment in time, you lived and breathed the story, the characters, and the world created by the author? Pulled into a fantasy universe with Harry Potter or Daenerys Targaryen, danced in the roaring twenties with Daisy and Gatsby, struggled for survival alongside uncle Tom?

When you tell a story, you appeal to the senses. To feelings, memories, smells, and a longing for more.

Just as great authors have done it, so can you in your communication efforts.

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is just about as ancient as mankind himself, so it means something special to each of us. At it’s core, storytelling refers to the “sharing of knowledge and experiences through narrative and anecdotes in order to communicate lessons, complex ideas, concepts, and causal connections”

For business communicators, I differentiate between two kinds of storytelling:

  • Storytelling as a Brand Story or Brand Narrative
  • Storytelling as a communications tool or method

Storytelling is the new content marketing

– Carlos Gil @Komfosummit

…and creators are the new celebrities (we’ll get back to that)

Storytelling as a Brand Story

Your Brand Story is your WHY. It’s your reason for existing. It’s not something you invent or find, it’s something you already have. By becoming aware of your brand story, by writing it down, working with it, analyzing it, communicating it, it becomes a guiding star for your communications, your culture, your marketing efforts, and pretty much everything else you do.

It’s a a lofty promise and likely a never-ending project. It’s also a hard exercise, because you have to become aware of the culture and the stories inside your organization – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Storytelling as a Tool or method

Storytelling as a tool or a method, on the other had, is about using traditional storytelling techniques in your marketing and communications efforts.

Why would you do that? Because stories are in our nature. They appeal to our human side, to our senses, and feelings

It can be difficult to remember and absorb statistics, but easier to remember a well-told story that involves our senses and appeals to our empathy. It also personalizes your brand.

Roughly put, very roughly, one might say that the former approach is the long term strategy, related to the ideas of content marketing and branding, while the latter is more closely related to the campaign ideas known from the promotion mix.

With a brand story, it becomes easier to tell the smaller stories. You have a guiding star of sorts, for using storytelling techniques everywhere else:

  • Storytelling on Social Media
  • Storytelling for Employer branding
  • Storytelling and employee advocacy
  • Storytelling and the customer journey

 …..etc.

And remember – Also according to Carlos Gil (@komfosummit), one of the biggest mistakes organizations are committing is:

Organizations aren’t storytelling. They are marketing, not engaging. When they should be engaging through storytelling.

When we say storytelling is the new content marketing, we’re not saying that content marketing is dead. Just that organizations and brands need to step up their game at storytelling and appealing to senses, feelings and traditional storytelling techniques, rather than just marketing and selling. These storytelling techniques were at the essence of the birth of content marketing – but we need to take it a step further, so that everything we do is storytelling. 

Aspire to make every tiny bit of communication a tiny puzzle piece of a story that fits into the bigger puzzle that is the brand story/narrative of your brand. That’s where the magic happens.

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