You might have noticed over the years that I have mentioned the importance of storytelling a lot. In this article, I shall be discussing that a little more in-depth. I will cite a practical example or even several practical examples so that you get the sense. Storytelling is such a huge deal these days that most ads are built around it. Traditionally customers have always been regarded as just numbers. As in, businesses usually interact with customers with the singular aim of making them buy. Over the years people have awoken to the realization that they deserve better. They now want to be regarded as more than just numbers. They want to be treated and taken as human beings, not some impersonal entities through which revenue comes. One way to do that is through storytelling.
An Interesting Zimbabwean Example – Zimnat
Zimnat tweeted something quite interesting. It said, ‘Let us create a story together. Follow the steps in the image and let us have fun.’ The image was titled Let Us Write A Story Together! It read as follows,
— Zimnat (@ZimnatOfficial) September 19, 2021
People love reading or creating stories and this strategy by Zimnat taps into both aspects. This is an example of using storytelling to stimulate engagement on social media platforms. This is something you can use for your platforms and can go a long way in building brand awareness.
Comedy Or Drama Skits
Virtually all of you are familiar with this in Zimbabwe. It is tried and tested strategy to build brand awareness and generate leads. The idea is inspired by the realization that people love stories. They particularly love stories depicted through dramas or comedy skits. The anticipation of getting to see how a story unfolds or the possibility of getting a good laugh intrigues people. That is why most Zimbabwean brands are turning to content creators who specialize in comedy or drama content. The initial inspiration is all from the love for engaging stories. Zimnat went the extra mile in this regard when they clandestinely launched a WhatsApp based drama called Jabu’s Homecoming which was meant to educate on their funeral assurance products through the fictional story of Jabu’s passing. It garnered the attention of close to 5000 WhatsApp users.
A Quote Worth Mentioning
‘I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling’ – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I love that quote because it speaks a lot about what should inspire your storytelling in business. Establishing a startup or business is all about addressing people’s pain points. If you want to appeal to them and make them relate you must build stories around that. Cover their pain points which will show them you relate and care about them getting solutions. Then work your solutions (in essence your products or services) into the storytelling. There are so many ways to package the stories but the inspiration or drive must be informed by that quote.
Storytelling Simplifies Complex Messages
In business or entrepreneurship your message matters. If it does not get through to your audience then calls to action will call on deaf ears. It reminds me of something that Albert Einstein once said, ‘If you cannot explain something simply, you do not understand it well enough’. He also once said that ‘if you cannot explain it to a 6-year-old, you do not understand it yourself. Another striking thing she also said is, ‘everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. All this enunciates the great importance of being simple. That applies to how you communicate your messages to your audience. It should be simple that even a 6-year-old can grasp what you are on about. How does this all fit into storytelling?
Well, storytelling simplifies things, even the most complex subjects. Stories are demonstrative or illustrative. They paint a picture for your audience that breaks down things into much easier to understand chunks. Stories also simplify committing things to memory. Someone is much more likely to recall a story rather than some piece of abstract and elaborate information. Communication is all about establishing a shared or common understanding. This will elicit feedback which then perpetuates a rich two-way communication. Such is the power storytelling wields and you will do well to take this seriously for your business or startup.
Move away from just bombarding your audience with abstract lifeless pieces of content. They can be posts, comments, or even ads and the like. Breathe life into them by packaging them as stories. Put relatable characters in them; make the stories realistic. This will cause your audience to get hooked because their emotions will be appealed to. Again Zimnat showed a great example of this when they claimed responsibility for the car that went viral on social media and beyond. Who remembers the Perfection soap ad from the 1990s? Check it out on YouTube here. That was pure art – making an ad based on storytelling and a funny one at that. The possibilities of applying storytelling for your startup or business are infinite.