Did you know that your brain acts the same when hearing a story as it does if the actions in that story were actually happening to you? It’s true. Storytelling has been a part of human culture dating back before the written word. However we’re only recently learning how stories affect the human brain. We use stories to convey many different types of information — from facts being taught in a classroom, to products and services being advertised on television.
Jolean Olson, director of development for Scenic Road Productions, gave a presentation at the recent Business Communicators Summit for the KC chapter of IABC about using video storytelling to connect to customers in an authentic way.
And before you think this was some ploy to get people to hire her production company, she cited that 92% of people say they want brands to present their advertisements as a story. It makes sense that if just hearing a story activates our brains as if we were experiencing it, that seeing a story would increase that feeling even more.
Not to mention that a story is more engaging. Think about what would be a more interesting way to learn about a new subject: hearing a list of facts or having it explained as a story. Which would you prefer?
So how does this topic relate to an independent grocery store? While you may not have the budget to create a high production quality video to advertise your business, you can still use video or simply use the communication tools at your disposal (paper ad, website, social media channels) to tell your story.
When it comes to communicating with your customers, you might assume that all they want to know is product and price. While that’s still important to consumers, they also want to know what sets your store apart from the others. Your customers want to know your story. Supporting local businesses is more popular than ever these days and this support gives you a captive audience who want to know your story.
Olsen suggested a series of steps that will help you craft your story to fit your specific goals:
- Really listen
Listen to what your audience needs to gain and give it to them. It’s often not what companies think, so ask your customers and then react.
- Give the concept stage time
Don’t rush past the brainstorming phase just to get something created. Figure out exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.
- Look for a theme
Olson cited the major themes of any story: Good vs. evil, the importance of relationships, traveling and journeys, following (and breaking) the rules, man vs. nature.
- Beg, borrow…but don’t steal
Anything that is creative is inspired by something else so don’t be afraid to borrow ideas or common themes. Just don’t steal them!
- Look everywhere for inspiration
Similar to borrowing ideas, look to common stories that everybody already knows like analogies, fairy tales, favorite kids’ books, favorite top 40 songs, and proverbs.
- Look right in front of you for inspiration
Learn about your employees or customers. Use their specific story to tell the bigger story of your store.
- Details are your friends
Think like journalist or a novelist. Remember to include the who, what, when, where, why, how in your story. Make sure there aren’t any blind spots. And remember that the why is where the heart of your story lies.
- Recognize magic in the moment
Fight really hard to keep the magic in your stories. The people featured might think it’s embarrassing but fight to keep it in because it makes them real and relatable.
- Pull back the curtain
Let your customers in so they will feel like a part of the story. Sometimes the most interesting story you can share with a customer is the part of the process that they don’t see.
- Don’t skip the funnies
Think about how often funny videos, pictures and other content is shared on social media. That is because humor is usually what people connect with and are therefore more likely to share.
At one point in the presentation, Olson shared with the audience the definition of creativity: solving a problem with novelty and relevance. Learn what’s relevant to your customers and share your store with them in a novel way.