Why Storytelling is Your Most Critical Skillset in a Virtual World

In recent years, the world has fundamentally changed. We have moved from a world where personal contact was the norm, to a world where most people primarily connect and engage online. The virtual world became our shared world—the “new normal.”

The C-Suite used to de-prioritize the role of Chief Marketing Officer behind Ops, Technology, and Strategy. Oh, how times have changed. With every business becoming a Direct to Consumer brand virtually overnight, the importance of marketing and compelling storytelling has never been more important. We all are all now forced to become effective storytellers.

Celinne De Costa, a former contributor to Forbeswomen in fact suggests that humanity is becoming the new premium. In a recent article, she noted: “When creating your marketing strategy, don’t forget the bigger story: what makes you human?”

How? Through good old-fashioned storytelling, of course. Story-telling is essentially using a narrative to communicate a message—ideally a message that resonates or touches the right audience at the right time. And when people are touched by a story, they follow it. They feel connected to the storyline. And a story well told will have prospective consumers buying into the brand—the heart of the story—not just a particular product. This is why storytelling really is your most critical skill set in today’s virtual world. Indeed, research has shown that a good 92% of consumers want advertising in some kind of story form (www.chiefmarketer.com).

It is a noisy, always bustling market place in the virtual world. Horns honking, hawkers everywhere selling every ware imaginable. Brand positioning, video, short-form content, webinars, social media…businesses need to look for compelling ways to break through the clutter and capture their target’s attention—someone’s heart in just a handful of seconds.

Here are some compelling tips on how to be better storytellers:

1. “Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken”— Oscar Wilde.

To begin, establish a differentiated, relevant, and most importantly authentic voice for your brand. Your brand needs to stand out, needs to be unforgettable in crowded marketplaces. And remember, no other brand can tell your brand’s unique life story. Make it an interesting life story, the kind of story one always wants to go on to the next page because it is so damned riveting.

2. Be concise—Attention spans are growing shorter by the day. Tell your story in short and powerful headlines, followed by longer-form stories in video and other mediums.

Consider this: The average human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish’s. A recent study found that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds today. NOTE: Goldfish have a nine-second attention span.

The Google marketing team uses the concept of “micro-moments” to describe that brief moment, that blink of an eye, that click of a keyboard when a consumer wants to learn or do something right now. Target content to create micro-moments in your brand’s story.

3. Be empathetic—Stop talking about how great your product or service is and start talking about how you make the lives of your target audience better. Speak in their language for greater impact. We all know, because we have all experienced it—people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel (Maya Angelo, 2014). The top ten most empathetic companies in the Global Empathy Index are amongst the most profitable and fastest-growing in the world.

4. Don’t be afraid to break into new channels—One size does not fit all, so why focus on single-channel vehicles to broadcast your story. Re-examine your social strategy—break into new channels previously unexplored. Find creative ways to break through the noise.

Diversify platforms. While Google and Facebook continue to dominate the field (Google provides high return rate ad spends with approximately 44% of marketers. PPC Trends & Best Practices. Pull data through analytics automation channels—these funnels provide instant feedback so you can continue to adjust your messaging in real-time—making sure it is hitting all the high notes, telling people a story they can hear and feel.

“In a crowded marketplace where everyone is focused on doing things faster, more efficiently, and automated, be the brand who dares to be human” (Decosta, 2019).

Be that brand Who Dares. Create a compelling narrative that is like the book you couldn’t put down, the series where you were practically holding your breath for the next installment, the movie you wanted to see over and over, the story you couldn’t get enough of because it spoke to your heart. BE that Storyteller. Make your brand an experience that people will never forget.