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A story well told, becomes a story well shared

By Lauren Pritchard

When I was younger, I would spend hours sat with my Nan and Grandad as they told me captivating stories about growing up during the war, what trouble my mum got in to as a teen or the hardship of living in a small one-bed flat with seven siblings and a dog.

I’d go around every Thursday for my dinner and spend the majority of the meal questioning them on their lives and their favourite memories. I don’t think I (or either of them) ever got to eat anything even remotely warm, as I relentlessly quizzed them until my mum picked me up.

It wasn’t that their stories were particularly ground-breaking, but they were authentic. Told with passion and weaved with humour and spirit, they captured my attention far more than a colouring book or the latest Nintendo game. Perhaps most importantly, they stuck with me. Even today, twenty years later, I can recite almost word for word the story of my Nan emerging from an air-raid shelter during WW2 and discovering her family home had been heartbreakingly flattened.

That’s the beauty of stories, when told right, they leave a lasting impression. People buy into stories, whether it’s during a job interview, or in a new business pitch or simply down the pub – if you can tell a story with a little bit of panache, you’ll have a captive audience.

It’s something that a lot of modern day brands could look to learn from. There’s a handful that are undoubtedly doing it right (Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and Nike’s Breaking2 are two of my personal favourites and are certainly worth a look), but most are not quite hitting the mark.

They’re producing content, for contents sake. Which in today’s already overcrowded marketing arena, isn’t resonating with consumers. So much content goes unshared, as there’s a lack of empathy, absurdity, understanding… In short, there’s no human element. Stories offer a great way of bringing an idea or concept to life in a more ‘real’ way.

They allow people to engage with a brand and create a relationship, that hopefully goes a lot further than a simple initial purchase. If brands can look to tell their stories better, irrespective of size or industry, they should be able to capture their audience’s attention and most importantly, hold it.

As with the stories my Nan and Grandad told me, the tales don’t have to be over-exaggerated or earth-shattering. They do have to be genuine though. The more genuine the story, the more your audience will place their trust and belief in it (and then your brand by extension). They’re also far more likely to share your content; which, let’s face it, is the goal for the majority of campaigns.

Social media has created endless channels and mediums which brands can utilise to tell a story. Whether it’s through live video, face-to-face conversation, an emailer or via a tweet, storytelling remains the most successful and powerful tool in a brand’s marketing arsenal.

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