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How Storytelling Can Make Your Company More Attractive

Posted on Thursday, December 1, 2011 by

Last Sunday I visited the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. Going to a museum is not necessarily the most engaging experience. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Despite the small size of the facilities, it caught my eye how this museum managed to capture the audience’s attention and retain it for longer at specific spots. The trick? They used smart storytelling. Let me explain.

Anyone could give a shot at using storytelling for their company or brand, but chances are you’re going to spend some quality time finding a good angle. It’s worth it, since it is often this what makes all the difference.

In the museum case, they could have chosen a basic storytelling move, maybe by adding sound to the statues of Charles II, John Flamsteed (first astronomer) and John Harrison (clockmaker). Instead, they decided to go with live actors and you know what made it even smarter? They could have had artists impersonating the very main characters but instead the stories where told by random citizens of those years. For example, a man that lived close to the observatory would tell us about the building, how the Greenwich Meridian was created and why it was moved a couple of times. Then, on the second floor, a lady by the name Ruth, told us about her family business - selling the time - in the streets of London, including what a day in her life was like.
I found that fascinating. If we were to go back in time that’s exactly what we would probably be: “random citizens”. The story became more engaging since we were able to learn history through the same lenses.

What are the takeaways for your business?

  1. Pick a good angle for your story: Ask yourself, “if my prospect will potentially look for what’s on my company’s shelves and didn’t know we exist, how can we conduct a story in which she/he can feel identified and closer to my brand?
  2. Pick a good character: Give this person / animal / thing,  a name. Make it unique so the message amplifies easier and the character resonates longer in people’s minds.
  3. Inject humour: What your character says, along with good body language will make your story memorable. The artists from the Royal Observatory would always do something small, simple, silly to keep us hooked and smiling. Cisco are great at this:
  4. Repeat your story in strategic spots online and offline: Maybe the video you made is not exactly for all segments. Think about where can these people see your message online (e.g. specific pages of your website) and offline (e.g. specific events)

Have you used storytelling in your business? Could you name some good examples you’ve seen?