The idea of storytelling evokes many different mental images. Depending on your life experience, it could be sitting around a campfire, reading to someone on a cozy couch or sharing family stories around the dinner table. Maybe even public speaking or stand-up comedy.

Each scenario is different, but they’re all storytelling that actively engage an audience.

The Power of Storytelling

At the recent 2013 Integrated Marketing Forum, Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Center, explained why stories are so powerful.

  • Stories are building blocks of the brain
  • Stories engage emotions and reason
  • Stories get our attention and make things stick
  • Stories are 20 times more likely to be remembered than cold hard facts
  • Stories create trust through shared experiences
  • Stories deliver big ideas with just a few words
  • Stories can sneak ideas into a hearer’s mind (subliminal suggestion) 

She shared that 12 out of 13 people want stories from brands as opposed to traditional sales speak. This is music to a content marketer’s ears because telling your story is at the heart of a content marketing strategy.

But if you have only one story, how can you magnify it and appear “bigger than life” within the marketplace? How can your one story be told so it engages multiple target markets and expands your digital finger print?

Transmedia Storytelling

Dr. Rutledge used the story of The Three Little Pigs to demonstrate the idea of expanding your brand’s story by utilizing transmedia storytelling, a coordinated story experience told across multiple media channels.

 You begin with a main story, identify the characters (e.g., departments, products or services), and expand on their individual themes, worlds, and actions. From a printed beginning (novel), through each character’s story (pigs 1, 2, 3 and the wolf), you can see how the social media outreach expands to include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Anime and blogs as unique audiences are targeted with different stories. (Click for full article)

“The hypothetical transmedia version of the Three Little Pigs is not the repurposing of story across different platforms. It is the creation of a holistic narrative that unfolds in different and unique manners across different media. It allows for a dialogue between creator and participant.” –Dr. Rutledge

Different Channels; Different Audiences

While this is rather a tongue-in-cheek example, the premise is very sound. From your original story, develop a series of stories exploring aspects of your business that have never been covered before. Go deep into core values, experience and benefits, focusing on humanizing your brand for your multiple audiences. This could involve brainstorming within your company to push out barriers and stretch creativity. Don’t be afraid. Think Star Trek…go where no man has gone before.

You ultimately want to tell each group the stories they want to hear in the manner they want to hear them. “Make it a priority to personalize your content by persona. Your content can’t accomplish much without an engaged audience.” — Joe Pulizzi , Epic Content Marketing

Each buyer persona will shape the stories you tell. What works for one audience on YouTube may not work on your website. Twitter and Pinterest each require unique types of content. Know your audiences and create content specifically for each one, designed for their preferred social media platform. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and tell them the stories that you would want to hear; stories that generate emotion, connection, trust and affiliation with your brand.

Join the Conversation:

  • How can you enliven your storytelling to better engage your target audiences? 
  • How are you overcoming the marketing challenges of publishing across multiple media channels?

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