Storytelling Webinar FAQ.

Earlier this summer, we partnered with Transforming Youth Outdoors (TYO) for a webinar on how to use storytelling as a powerful marketing tool for nabbing the attention of target audiences. If you missed it, catch the recast above of The Power of Story: How to Engage Your Audience with Strategic Narrative. Following this 101 look at storytelling, attendees sent us some great questions. Here are the most frequently asked:

What is storytelling?

During the storytelling webinar, we define storytelling as:

A marketing tool that uses strategic narrative to emotionally move an audience to react. This reaction helps the storyteller achieve a goal.

Storytelling does not equal branding. Nor does it mean rehashing your bio or telling a story for the sake of telling a story—which is actually a big mistake many organizations make. The kind of storytelling we’re talking about requires strategy to involve the audience and deliver a memorable message. When done well, storytelling taps into your audience’s emotions and guides them through an experience that makes a lasting impression.

What if I don’t have the time or the budget to work on my story?

Time and budget constraints are the biggest obstacles we hear about. But if you think about what it takes to create good, share-worthy content, you’ll see how writing actually saves you time and money. For one, it forces you to get clear on your target audience. This is vital work for building out your larger content strategy. For example, you’ll need to identify who this includes, their needs and interests, and where they converse online (social listening) and beyond. You’ll also need to convey who you are, what you do, and why it matters to them. It might seem like a lot of work up front, but you can repurpose much of it for multiple marketing initiatives.

How do I get started?

Online mind-mapping tools are a great way to start brainstorming. XMind is a free download, although not web-based like MindMeister which is great for collaborating with others. From there, start creating subtopics with the headings Target Audience (detailing what matters most per segment), Call to Action, Images, and Possible Angles. Then jot down thoughts and ideas for any and all of these just to get your brain warmed up.

What if my story isn’t all that interesting?

Think again. Often times, where folks think their story should start, is actually all wrong. And that’s why they get stuck. If you find yourself leading your audience down a very long, very boring chronology, start writing through some shortcuts to get to the good stuff. That’s essentially where your story should start.

Now, if the “good stuff” seems mediocre, work backward from your call to action. What do you need your audience to do? How does that action play into some larger, more meaningful desire. For example, let’s say with your story you want to entice readers to offer up their email addresses. Few people will feel emotionally connected to your attempt at list building. But if you can convey with your story that handing over their email means they will be joining a community of parents who share the same passion for the outdoors, want to get their kids outdoors and off mobile devices, and are banding together to change the trajectory of where today’s youth is headed, you are more likely to get them on board.

What if I don’t have any case studies of my own?

Borrow them! There is no shortage of success stories and stats to plump up a thin story.

Biggest Marketing Struggles

Many of our webinar participants shared with us their biggest marketing struggles. Do any of these sound familiar? Join us for our ongoing online “gathering” hosted by TYO where we’ll continue the conversation on overcoming marketing woes and winces.

  • Identifying my audience.
  • Reaching more people.
  • Being consistent with my messaging/having a unified voice across all mediums—especially when different people are running each medium.
  • Effectively connecting my methods of communication for marketing.
  • Brevity.
  • Measuring how well I’m reaching my target audience.
  • Reaching the intended audience.
  • Keeping my audience engaged.
  • Lack of budget and time.
  • Creativity.
  • Finding new ways to connect with my audience.
  • Convincing my older, more conservative colleagues to take risks and explore innovative approaches
  • Creating website content when I hate writing.