While statistics alone can make a strong impact, they are even more powerful as components of informed business storytelling. From our earliest memories to our most recent Netflix binge, stories are a monumental part of how we experience, understand, and remember the world around us. Businesses that understand the power of stories, especially in an age of data and on-demand platforms, will have a leading edge in the years to come.
In this blog, we’ll look at four ways that storytelling can transform a business. From forging new paths of connection to reach consumers, inspiring audiences, teaching useful skills, and gaining keen insights, business storytelling can revolutionize company messages and marketing strategies. Let’s start by looking at one of the foundational principles and benefits of business storytelling: building a relationship with an audience.
Build a Relationship With the Audience
Storytelling coach Nglalula Beatrice Kabutakapua says that “if we as humans are rings of a chain, storytelling is our connector.” As she guides and mentors entrepreneurs in their business storytelling, Kabutakupua emphasizes that business relationships are human relationships that can build trust through storytelling.
While facts may educate or inform us, stories move our hearts. Through business storytelling, marketers can communicate to consumers, customers, and clients that their company sees their needs wants to meet them and plans to do so.
Think about your favorite commercials, for example. They probably aren’t your favorite because they read out a bulleted list of reasons a product will improve your life somehow. Even if those reasons were excellent, they wouldn’t stick with you as well as they do in the context of a story.
In all likelihood, the commercials that you don’t find yourself rushing to skip past are ones that tell a story—however brief—that shows a clear understanding of a need or desire, and give you the satisfaction of watching that need or desire being met. Such an ad is an example of high-quality business storytelling that builds a relationship with the audience.
When consumers develop an emotional connection with your brand through the story, they are more likely to form a lasting relationship with your company. IT company Capgemini found that “86% of consumers with high emotional engagement say they always think of the brands they are loyal to when they need something, and 82% always buy the brand when they need something.”
These staggering statistics aren’t just great news for companies’ profit margins as customer loyalty leads to higher sales—they’re an exciting invitation for digital marketers. Creative individuals who love to connect people with meaningful stories can enhance their career paths—and their enjoyment of their professions— by learning the art and science of brand storytelling. The Master’s of Digital Marketing and Data Analytics (DMDA) at Emerson College teaches the marketers of the future how to reach, move, and engage audiences in ways that cultivate customer loyalty by telling powerful stories that serve consumers and companies alike.
Make Lasting Impressions
In his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, the late psychologist Jerome Bruner estimated that people are 22 times more likely to remember a fact if it is part of a story. Similarly, researchers, Dan and Chip Heath discovered that only 5% of people remembered statistics from a presentation, but 63% remembered stories. Companies that harness the power of business storytelling stand to stick in the minds of consumers much longer than those that don’t.
Some of the most prominent examples of business storytelling creating a lasting impression come from Nike. Here are just a few examples of the stories Nike has told that created common cultural memories and brand recognition:
- The paradigm-shifting minute-long ad spot featuring Michael Jordan’s life story. The only time Nike was mentioned was in the final seconds. “This couldn’t have been more different from most commercials at the time, which tended to lean towards the “sell, sell, sell” principle,” writes entrepreneur and digital marketing strategist Sujan Patel. “It understood that what would really make a lasting impression, and what would help build the brand and allow the company to sell more products in the long-term, was an authentic story.”
- Through a short film, web pages, social media, billboards, and posters, the Nike Equality campaign shares the stories of athletes of all kinds.
- The @nikewomen Instagram page shares stories inspiring women—from athletes to authors to moms to models. Most of the posts do not mention Nike directly, instead depicting the occasional swoosh on a pair of sneakers in a photo. The point of the posts is to share a compelling story.
When it comes to making a lasting impression, we would be remiss not to mention the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty.” In pivoting from professional models to women of all shapes and sizes, Dove told stories that millions more women could relate to. Over ten years, Dove saw a monumental sales jump: their revenue increased from $2.5 to $4 billion.
Harnessing the power of business storytelling across various mediums can be a game-changer for corporations. For example, two-way SMS marketing allows companies to enter directly into the stories of their customers. Studies show that SMS messaging can increase conversions by 24%.
For example, baby and toddler footwear company Piper Finn goes beyond just sending text messages that advertise new products or specials and end in a “do not reply” message. Instead, their texts welcome responses from customers or potential customers with specific questions. And instead of just replying with a message that tells the customer to send an email for support, a real person replies, ready to engage with the customer’s specific needs. “My son’s foot runs wide. Do you have any suggested shoes for me?” ” they may say. Rather than being sent an automated link response, a staff member will reply with specific recommendations. Piper Finn has seen a 10x return on investment, $350,000 in sales through SMS, and a 25% click-through rate from conversational texting.
Simple as it may seem, stories like Piper Finn’s make it clear that conversational texting helps customers feel like they aren’t just a number in the company’s eyes. Why? Because they got to tell their story and your company entered into that story in a helpful, meaningful, and memorable way. A Master’s of Digital Marketing and Data Analytics will teach you how to employ business storytelling in a way that encourages customers and potential customers to engage with your brand conversationally.
Teach and Inform
One way to leverage business storytelling to encourage trust, loyalty, and confidence in a brand is through producing educational materials. For example, Realtor.com produced a television series, Beyond the Block, a half-hour program hosted by REALTOR®, Andrew Tyree.
“The show isn’t just one really long commercial for Realtor.com,” notes Hal Koss at BuiltIn, “it’s meant to create real value for first-time home buyers. It does so by serving as a series of educational, entertaining stories about the businesses and cultures that make up a neighborhood.”
Kimberly Zhang at Business Insider says that business storytelling through video marketing can be boiled down to “engage, educate, and energize.” People already love to get lost in stories on television and in movies, so why not produce beautiful stories as a marketer as well? Zhang puts it this way:
“Hoping to share product specs? Weave them into the story of the product's conception and development. Want to promote a new discount? Show what went into making that price drop possible. Customers will recognize and respond to your efforts, meaning serious ROI down the line.”
Become a Business Storyteller
Do you want to craft beautiful stories that humanize companies, educate consumers, and serve customers in meaningful ways? Are you interested in storytelling techniques for business, building relationships with audiences, and leveraging data and storytelling skills?
A Master’s of Digital Marketing and Data Analytics from Emerson College is the perfect place to start, and you don’t have to take our word for it. “The knowledge I have gained and the connections I have made in the program are truly priceless,” says online DMDA program student Amanda Tomaselli. “From the DMDA program, I feel more equipped, more confident, more knowledgeable about the digital marketing industry and know that the sky is truly the limit.”
Just like Amanda, you’ll have the opportunity to grow in confidence, knowledge, and preparation that will prepare you to lead the future of digital marketing. Through the Emerson 100% online DMDA program, you’ll learn how to gather, interpret, and use data to tell excellent brand stories through courses like:
- Digital Marketing and Campaigns
- Digital Storytelling and Branding
- Online Consumer Behavior
Prepare to enter a high-demand field as a data-savvy digital marketer who loves to approach business storytelling with well-honed skills and creativity. The DMDA program can be completed in as little as 15 months and doesn’t require a GRE or GMAT.
Take the next step toward your dream digital marketing career today by speaking with an Emerson Admission Counselor.