This post was originally featured on Huffington Post Business.
Storytelling has been around for thousands of years.
From the early days of humanity, when mythological stories were shared around the camp fire, to our modern day political leaders and inspiring figures, people have used the power of storytelling to share their vision and create a sense of community.
For the past couple of years the marketing world has also been abuzz with brand storytelling.
Storytelling in a marketing context is a device that takes full advantage of the online environment of modern consumers and involves them into the brand’s marketing message (story).
By combining emotion and logic, consumer-led storytelling is more persuasive than any push marketing strategy. This modern marketing device lends itself perfectly for an online environment.
In his popular book, Tell to Win, Peter Guber, uses the analogy of the Trojan horse. In his opinion, stories can be used to sneak messages into consumers minds which are left with their guard down.
The pulling power that storytelling possesses is exactly what makes it attractive to marketers. In fact, storytelling is an excellent example of pull marketing, marketing that aims to create demand from consumers by involving them.
According to modern marketing practices, businesses should let go of push marketing strategies and their tightly controlled, one-sided marketing messages.
By allowing consumers to get involved in the story around a product or a brand, a dialogue evolves in which consumers can share their experiences with a business.
Good storytelling ultimately leads to consumers passing on that story through sharing their personal experiences within their circle of influence, and social media is the ideal channel for this.
In storytelling, the main question that needs answering is still the good old classic: “What’s in it for me?” What can consumers gain from a brand? Showing consumers how others engage with a product or service is one good way of answering this question.
This can be done by posting video reviews made by consumers on a business’ website or Facebook page. In a business-to-business situation, case studies are the perfect vehicle for creating a story by telling how another business was able to overcome a challenge with a solution offered by the first business.
Consumer-led storytelling works by combining an emotional and a logical aspect in the same story. A brand story talks with passion and conviction about the brand, but also allows the consumer to find him- or herself reflected in the story.
Storytelling can also be used in a business-to-business setting, by engaging representatives of other businesses.