Everyone likes a good story

MARKETING has always been about telling captivating stories. Perhaps, though, we’ve forgotten about this a little, especially in the Gulf, where marketing is so often about superlatives rather than “real content”.

And yet, storytelling is as old as humankind and is perhaps one of the most powerful marketing tools.

Faced with today’s digitally (hyper)connected consumer, storytelling becomes even more important, because it can make the difference between catching your potential customer’s attention or not.

Stories help you to connect your company or brand with your customers. We’re more likely to buy from people who we have some sort of connection with, so establishing a connection first via a well told story and selling your product or service only after that is the way forward.

Stories also help your customers to distinguish you from your competitors. They lend your brand or company “personality”. In the leisure, tourism, and hospitality industries, we’re blessed with an abundance of storytelling material – we don’t have to worry about finding content that arouses our customers’ interest, it’s readily available in the shape of a great room, a fine meal, or a stunning landscape.

How then should companies tell stories? First and foremost, of course, brand stories should be true. We all like fairy tales, but perhaps not so much when it comes to making important purchasing decisions like which airline’s business class to fly or which luxury hotel to stay in for a long weekend.

Secondly, stories are about people. Do not hide behind your brand or company image when telling stories, but use storytelling as an opportunity to let your people shine: Your employees, your customers, your suppliers, you name it. Focusing on the people element when telling stories will also help you to make them more exciting.

Good stories are not just told in one sitting or overnight. Remember Scheherazade, who told stories for 1001 nights? Try and be like Scheherazade and your customers will be like the king and keep you alive. Good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and do not give away the ending too quickly. Use stories to move your customers from one marketing platform or medium to the next. Start telling a story in print and continue it online, on your website, your Facebook page, or on a Pinterest board.

Lastly, good writing makes good stories, but great stories are made by great writing and great pictures. Your storytelling activities should be highly visual, which will make it even easier for your customers to “see behind the brand”. A good brand, while important, is a bit like good looks: It helps to attract interest, but ultimately, it’s personality that keeps us hooked, not just looks.

Would you like me to book my next holiday with your travel agency rather than the one that’s closer to my office? Tell me a good story and I just might! Bore me, and I definitely won’t.

By Martin Kubler