Beyond Storytelling: The Power of Storyscaping

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Businesses tell stories to change people’s perception and influence their actions. But according to Gaston Legorburu and Darren McColl from SapientNitro, ‘great storytelling alone won’t save your business.’ In 2014 they published a book called “Storyscaping: Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds.” The question is have businesses taken their important message on board?

Just because you tell a story doesn’t mean that other people are interested to hear it, especially if you tell that story about yourself or from your own perspective. Most businesses have been sensitive enough to pick up on this point, and hence they use market research and data analysis to find out what makes their target audience tick. Once they know what their audience likes, they can create stories around different products and services, focusing on fulfilling certain desires or wishes. In the past, businesses would often choose to present themselves as the hero, or the ultimate answer to a consumer’s problem. This type of storytelling, however, often falls short of its goal.

Legorburu and McColl use the example of a child that doesn’t listen to its mother’s multiple warnings about the hot stove. Once the child gets burned, it learns to stay away from that stove. That is because experiencing something leaves a much deeper impression than hearing something told. The mother may have been the storyteller, but the child was the story-maker.

That is why storyscaping is a little different. In storyscaping, you create a world with the consumer at its heart. The consumer becomes the hero of a story, which is acted out in a variety of interactive media. The business, on the other hand, becomes a helper, or a mentor. So, if you are familiar with the classic story device called “the hero’s journey“, you will recognize that in order to fulfill his quest the hero must accept help from a mentor. Of course, this help is analogous with a product or service, but, in the story world, it gives the hero a magical advantage.

The story world is carefully constructed across different platforms, both online and offline. Ask yourself, “Why does this business exist?” and “What are our core beliefs?” Simon Sinek‘s “Start With Why” is still an influential starting point in digital marketing. But beyond this, you need to create a world that is authentic, that involves interaction with your target group, and that binds people to your business by giving them experiences.

So, instead of simply telling a story about a character, you are making your consumer the center of your shared story, because when you involve a person in a story like this, they are much more likely to remember it and share it with others.

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