Back to Basics: The Art of Storytelling

August has arrived and with it, the familiar “back-to-school” theme. Let this month serve as an opportune time and reminder to sharpen your skills, knowledge, and invest in new resources. Students around the nation are buying new pencils and notebooks, so why not mirror this trend and advocate that your business invest in a new strategic toolkit?

To kick-start the re-stocking of your strategic toolkit, first get back to basics. Consider recreating or refreshing your story. The art of storytelling is a tool that professionals too often overlook. We must not forget that content strategy is king – whether you’re a major brand, an online marketer or a media outlet, telling stories is the heart and soul of what you do (Gunther Sonnenfeld). One of the keys to success is to look for opportunities to create content using the unique narrative techniques of great storytellers.

How does storytelling affect your company? According to corporate technologist Gunther Sonnenfeld, “curation” is the first step; instead of simply aggregating various media resources, we must build value around experiences that have cultural, social and educational impact.

Telling your brand or product’s story will help your business transform typical content into subject matter that influences behavior. Ami Walsh, a digital marketing content strategist, advises marketers to shape content “using the same narrative techniques great storytellers rely on, such as shifting points of view, building narrative urgency, and creating dramatic tension.” Doing this successfully will influence important audiences who will broadcast your content across their networks, thus elevating your brand to a new level.

Look for opportunities to shape your content beyond just tone and voice – think about the strategy, story, and point of view behind your material. In Sonnenfeld’s The Business of Storytelling he highlights four major brands that have made a point to produce content that provides an experience of real meaning and “shareability”: Charmin’s installation in Times Square, Dove’s Real Beauty meet-ups, American Express’s OPEN kiosks and HP’s innovation installations.

These brands’ initiatives show that shifting perspectives or creating an authentic experience for your customers can improve a story – and brand perception – dramatically. By providing relatable and culturally-relevant content, your customers will feel inspired to engage with your brand.

Walsh and Sonnenfeld also remind us to consider how each piece of content will build narrative urgency and contribute to a campaign’s overall dramatic arc. Given the socially and technologically-driven world we live in, there is no doubt that people are willing to engage and participate. The key to instigating this participation is to create strategic content that will drive meaningful connections with your audience.

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