In the April edition of Marketing magazine there is a feature towards the back that tells Marketers “How to Perfect the Art of Storytelling”. The points offered are noble enough. One cannot argue that if one wanted to tell a story the tips they provide are all sound.
Unfortunately they are totally missing the point.
The true art that Marketers need to master is not how to tell a story per se, but to create stories for other people to tell.
Social media, as my colleague Ray Higgs originally pointed out several years ago (with no recourse to Coca Cola), is the modern equivalent of telling stories round the campfire. But people do not want to hear them from brands, they want to hear from people they know, love, and find interesting.
The art of creating stories that other people want to tell is what makes campaigns go viral.
A blunt form of what we are describing here can be seen in the current TV campaign for Eurostar: “Stories are waiting”. Encouraging people to seek out their own stories by travelling on Eurostar to Paris. It is also the key attraction behind Experiential Marketing. Enabling people to create their own experiences and stories that the brand has facilitated. It has underpinned drinks marketing since long before marketing ever existed as a discipline and it still works just as effectively as ever.
So do not seek to hone your storytelling skills. Seek instead to create the environment and the raw material in which stories can be created and told by your consumers.