Storytelling: old ways to do new marketing
Storytelling. The marketing buzz word of the second decade. You've heard it so many times that you don't notice it anymore, and you think it's just a yuppie new age thing or a supercazzola to not make you understand what they are talking about.
But I can assure you that it is very real, and while we are here we try to clarify. What is this blessed storytelling? And why is it so important?
“Storytelling” literally means “telling stories”, and marketing has always been a question of knowing how to tell, whether it is about telling your company, your product or your skills. In short, knowing how to tell yourself is key, and we see it everywhere in successful campaigns and commercials. But you can't go off-the-cuff, telling is an exact science, and it has very specific elements:
Each story has a protagonist, who is almost always the final consumer in our case. The protagonist has a desire, what he wants to do or have, and a need, which instead is what the protagonist really needs, and does not always coincide with the desire but always satisfies it. These are the 3 essential elements of storytelling and if you looked for them you would find them in all types of advertising. In an ad for a fast-food chain on TV, the protagonist is a worker on a lunch break, who wants a new and exotic experience, which finds the answer in the new Hawaiian-themed sandwich. In a perfume advertisement on the page of a gossip magazine, the protagonist is the reader herself, whose desire is to look as beautiful and attractive as the supermodel in the photo, and who therefore needs to wear that perfume to be able to be. Yes, they say “wearing a perfume”, I have discovered it too now.
But even in election campaigns, think about it, the protagonist is inevitably the people, who want change, and need Tizio Caio as prime minister.
But not only that, there is still a lot to explore in the world of storytelling, obstacles and antagonists, such as bad smells in detergent advertisements and sand flies in dog flea advertisements. These are obviously very simple examples, but nothing dictates that your storytelling is complex, indeed, the simpler and more direct it is the better it works. But they are not just elements, we must also know how to put them together, and in this case we must work on the structure.
The most common is the one in 3 acts, if you haven't heard it surely you have perceived it, where we have an introduction, where the protagonist and his need are described, a central part where he is faced, and a final where he is resolved. . The model has been revised and amended several times over the decades, but it remains a very solid foundation on which to build our storytelling, and more than enough for our purpose.
Obviously it is not that simple, there is a lot more to deepen and study, on how to create the right stories for the right audience and the right product, adapt them to the right tool and media, it is true that storytelling is approachable and literally anyone can do it, we all do it every day without knowing it, but to have concrete results you have to rely on people who know how to do it well.
So now storytelling is a little more concrete concept, and not this smoky opaque cloud anymore, but why does it work? What makes it so effective if done right?
Because it speaks to us, at a level that numbers, data and common sense cannot reach. Have you ever tried to change someone's mind? How many times have you succeeded in bringing studies and statistics? How many times have you managed to get a message across with a story, whether it was true or made up? A story is something we can relate to, subconsciously rather than rationally. And that's where you need to go if you want a successful campaign.The ways to storytelling are many and all valid, each suited to its own purpose and media, but in all cases it remains a very powerful tool and never to be underestimated, when it comes to communication.