Monday, 28 january 2019 | Brenda Rodríguez López
Since ancient times, human beings have used stories for very different reasons: handing down their feats, warning against the dangers of taking certain roads, supporting political discourses, conveying culture and tradition, explaining complex problems or, simply, entertaining and amusing other people. However, stories should not be taken as insignificant tales, because these stories are, in large part, those that have given meaning to reality. Brands soon recognized the potential of good stories. Indeed, the technique of storytelling, which is widely used in traditional marketing, is still influencing the evolution of the sector in the digital field intensively. What is its secret? What is the new trend of data storytelling? How can brands use storytelling effectively nowadays?
As its name suggests, storytelling is "the art of telling a story". It is a technique that makes possible for brands to create and take advantage of a story to connect with its audience in a different way. The stories that brands tell not only serve to attract the attention of potential clients, but also to create a close and singular link between firms and consumers. When a story is good, it can become something else, since tales are the best instrument to generate emotions. In short, the final goal of this technique is to promote an alternative relationship that goes beyond the launch and reception of a message, which is more real and is built on the values and ideas that firms promote through their narratives.
Although this method is not new, in fact it is one of the oldest techniques that exist, storytelling has adapted to digital media perfectly. Far from being left behind, as it has happened with other conventional strategies, “the art of telling stories" has gained momentum to grow significantly in the online territory. Part of this success is due to the fact that marketers have managed to adapt this type of techniques to the new digital scenario and take advantage of technological advances to tell stories that connect better with their target audience. Data storytelling is a faithful reflection of how innovation and tradition can be perfectly aligned in order to offer an alternative and original approach that transcends the traditional methodology.
Until recently, it was common for companies to make mistakes or miss opportunities because they did not know how to interpret the context well, and they did not understand, therefore, what it was that their audience demanded. Today, in the midst of the Big Data era, data has become the new marketing fuel. The information that brands now have helps professionals create strategies that are more focused on meeting their targets’ needs, which are more personal and also more effective. This fact translates into a new way of telling stories. It is not a question of redefining the narrative technique, but rather of knowing how to interpret the data with which firms now count on and draw the pertinent conclusions that help inspire the stories.
On the other hand, the consumer's mentality has changed a lot during the last years. The amount of advertising to which people are exposed is overwhelming nowadays. The development of mobile technology has helped to increase exponentially the number of messages that the average user receives on a daily basis. This phenomenon is significant because, for brands to reach consumers, they need to use new strategies. Thanks to storytelling, firms are achieving greater visibility, offering a more human image, establishing a more real connection with consumers, having a positive impact and generating trust. Their messages manage to overcome these new obstacles which they find along the way.
This digitalization of lifestyle has also made consumers more skeptical when it comes to believing in messages. In other words, users are tired of being told “fairy-tales", in the most negative sense of the term. Something which is fundamental when creating a story is that it should be believable. The story can be based on real events, such as storytelling that tells the company's own story, or not, when the brand use the story of a fictional character in order to convey its message. However, the narrative must always be coherent, that is, it should be based on values in which brands not only believe, but also uphold. For example, a company that is committed to the environmental care will lose all its credibility, if it does not maintain a sustainable business policy of respect for nature.
Coherence is not the only requirement which is necessary to create stories that captivate audience. Below, we have compiled several tips that can help storytellers to tell stories, not fairy-tales, in the new digital age:
At The CEU IAM Business School, we are aware of the great challenge that is to face complex scenarios which are exposed to constant change. That is the reason that has led us to design our Master's Degree in Digital Marketing, a training with a practical and current approach with which professionals will be able to apply their knowledge from the first day.