Storytelling for Marketing
Graham is the founder of the award-winning podcast agency Pikkal & Co., author and storytelling expert. Listen to learn about how to approach storytelling, how to weave it into your content, applying the 80/20 rule to your content, and why you should focus on finding your start before you find your why.
Dispelling Storytelling Myths
- Graham believes that, when it comes to storytelling, many people are confused and feel a sense of imposter’s syndrome
- They feel as if nobody is going to listen to their story because they aren’t a celebrity nor have big names as podcast guests
- Graham thinks that many people have stories to tell, though
Storytelling According to Graham Brown
- Storytelling can be traced back to our childhood when there was a big sense of make-believe
- As we grow up, however, we start to “edit ourselves” and, probably motivated by fear, we don’t really commit that much to our stories anymore
- The whole point of storytelling is about connecting with people because they want involvement, connection, and authenticity
- When visiting a new website, users tend to visit the About page first because they want to learn more about the person or company behind it
- Graham sees storytelling as an invitation to take people on a journey
How to Naturally Weave Storytelling Into Your Content
- For Graham, stories are like a map, a frame we give people so that they can understand the truth about what we do
- Your company, your product and your service are a story. Not telling someone a story about any of them is making it difficult for others to know what you truth is and to understand your world
- There are things we may not recognize as stories but everything we see and value are shaped, influenced and unfiltered to us through a story
- Often people shy away from story-thinking because they see it as a fabrication of the truth. However, it isn’t that, rather an enhancement of the truth
- The ‘flattering the curve’ story we all heard at the beginning of the pandemic was a way to make billions of people understand how COVID could be dealt with and controlled
- Most people’s life story isn’t linear but rather “messy” – and that’s completely fine
- Agile storytelling revolves around the idea that you don’t need a finished book to have a story worth telling. You can get started right now
- The inspiration for Graham’s concept of agile storytelling comes from the stand-up comedy space: comedians that are able to stay cool despite being heckled while on stage. They’re successfully able to do that thanks to a lot of practice
The 80/20 Rule for Your Content
- Graham shares the story of a photo of comedian Jerry Seinfeld who wrote down every single joke he’s ever told
- The idea of 80/20 is to split your content approach into two. 80% is about using your existing content, while the remaining 20% should be used to experiment
- Experimenting with your content may mean telling the same story a different way, telling a different story, telling in a different language, or do something else – then, getting feedback and tweaking your 20% testing approach accordingly
Taking Every Opportunity to Get on Stage
- In Graham’s approach, ‘stage’ refers to both a physical stage like in the case of a conference, as well as a virtual stage like in the case of a podcast interview
- He believes that you should take every opportunity to get on stage – be it a small or a big stage – and practice
- Do like stand-up comedians: they began in small clubs with a handful of people. Don’t say not to a potential podcast interview just because the show only has 100 listeners
- Becoming a better storyteller translates into becoming better at pretty much everything: podcasting, copywriting, sales, hiring, raising money, and so forth
Stories Influence Our World
- Graham shares some research that was done in order to find people’s preference between Pepsi and Coca-Cola. When not knowing what they were drinking, most participants of the study picked Pepsi as the better-tasting beverage
- However, when knowing they were drinking Pepsi and Coca-Cola, the ratio shifted to four-to-one for Coca-Cola
- While some may say ‘I’m not influenced by a story’, the actual expectation of the brand and its story does shape our experience with it at a neuropsychological level – and there are studies that show that
- Storytelling isn’t fluff, it’s actually something that changes how people experience the world. And if you can influence people, you can impact them as well
The 3-Box Storytelling Technique
- Graham’s 3-Box Storytelling Technique is about breaking your story down into the past, the present and the future
- The approach, however, isn’t just past, present, and future. It’s about sharing the present to state ‘this is where we are now, this is the problem at hand’. Then, go back to the past to show how we got there, and conclude with the future, which paints the promised land
- When it comes to your contribution to the story, it isn’t about switching “expert mode” on, rather about switching “empathy mode” on – show people that you really understand their problem
- To become good at storytelling Graham doesn’t suggest telling a story that’s new to the audience but telling a story that’s familiar
Finding Your Start Before You Find Your Why
- For Graham, finding your start should come before finding your why
- The reason for this is that, sometimes, it takes time before you’re able to see the bigger picture, “connect the dots”, and really find your why
- If you have been thinking about starting a podcast or building a business, it can be hard to find a clear why and see how things will be long-term. That’s why Graham recommends just getting outside of your comfort zone and getting started
- The whole storytelling process is not a destination, it’s a life skill that can always be worked on and improved
Storytelling and Corporate Podcasting
- When working with corporate clients Graham helps them more with their storytelling technique
- The key in that context is thinking about how to express a management consultancy company, a bank or another corporation in a human way – and how to do so while retaining authenticity
- Corporations have been around long enough, have experience, have seen what’s broken, have some great contacts and, generally, already have some content such as white papers, research reports, etc.
Graham is the founder of Pikkal & Co – Award Winning Podcast Agency – an AI Powered, Data Driven B2B Podcast Agency in Singapore. He is a published author on the subject of The Digital Transformation of Communication, works including “The Human Communication Playbook”, “The Mobile Youth: Voices of the Connected Generation” – documenting the rise of mobile culture in the early 2000s in Japan, China, Africa and India and “Brand Love – How to Build a Brand Worth Talking About”.
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