Storytelling Named Top Business, Marketing Skill of Next 5 Years

There’s nothing like a great story for pulling people in, holding their attention, making them care and, perhaps most importantly, encouraging them to share. That’s precisely why marketing experts across the country are touting the power of storytelling with some saying this skill will become the mostly highly sought after in business and marketing over the next five years.

Unlike television commercials, print ads, billboards and radio spots that are designed with a straight selling slant, brand marketing takes a different approach. Rather than blatantly work to close a deal, a good piece of brand storytelling seeks to engage readers or viewers. It might entertain, serve to inform or prove useful in another way. An advertising slant may or may not even go along with this proposition aside from the use of a company’s logo to indicate its sponsorship of the content.

At its very root, content framed around storytelling is more conducive to sharing. In a digital age where people spend hours online, traditional advertising platforms may or may not have the reach brands desire. Storytelling efforts pushed out online find people where they live, so to say, and are producing some tremendous results when done well.

The Rise of Storytelling

Storytelling as a form of marketing isn’t really a new concept. In fact, it’s essentially been around since the days of bards, minstrels and town criers. When a storyteller manages to create content that compels, that story hooks people, enables them to emotionally connect and encourages them to tell others.

As social media sites become the virtual gathering places in the digital world, marketers are discovering that storytelling provides an excellent way to get the word out on these platforms that have engagement at their very cores. Like everyone else, companies have their own stories to tell, and this is where brand storytelling comes in.

While many brands are attempting to delve into storytelling, not everyone is getting it right, experts warn. “Good storytelling is more about listening than people think,” said “Email, Social Marketing and the Art of Storytelling” author John Sadowsky. “To tell a good story and involve your community takes a lot of groundwork, which many brands aren’t willing to do.”

Storytelling Done Right

”In a digital world where anyone can ignore anything, advertising must be as valuable as a good book, movie, or news story,” wrote Kirk Cheyfitz, Story Worldwide’s founder, in a piece scribed for Chief Content Officer.

Some companies have heeded this advice. Take Chipotle, for example, with its tale of “The Scarecrow.” This YouTube video wasn’t meant to serve as an advertisement. Its purpose was to inform customers about the chain’s commitment to family farms and ethically raised livestock. Even so, “The Scarecrow” netted more than 11.6 million views on YouTube and was the subject of more than 12,000 Facebook posts, raising brand awareness with every click, share and comment.

The New York Times has taken a different approach to storytelling, allowing its advertising partners to sponsor content. This type of content enables the paper to produce involved, slick and highly engaging pieces while giving companies the ability to spread their brand reach by serving as a sponsoring partner.

Soft drink giant Coca-Cola has also gotten into storytelling in a very big way. Through its Journey website, the brand shares stories, videos, history, recipes and even music, engaging, informing and entertaining visitors all the while. Although proclaimed “creatively bankrupt” by a chief executive in 2004, Coca-Cola earned the title Creative Marketer of the Year at Cannes 2013 as a result of its efforts with Journey.

As the digital world continues to pull people away from traditional forms of communication and entertainment, marketing experts say refocusing attention just takes a good story.

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