It’s in vogue for marketers to think of themselves as storytellers. But much of the marketing that gets passed off as “storytelling” really isn’t that much of a story.
There is genuine power in stories and there are inspiring examples of brands that tell stories. But I think that often gets diluted by all of the content produced in the name of storytelling that is really just a thinly veiled marketing pitch.
Not all marketing is storytelling. Not all content tells a story. Most case studies are just case studies. Most video testimonials are just video testimonials. Most long-form blog posts are just long-form blog posts.
I enjoyed this 2-minute critique from Stefan Sagmeister about storytelling (from an interview ironically made while speaking at a marketing conference on storytelling).
As he summarized, “Storytelling has taken on the mantle of bullshit.”
Stories have a protagonist, conflict, and a beginning, middle, and an end. But that’s just the mechanics.
Ultimately, the only arbiter of what makes a good story is the audience. And whether the stories are so interesting that the audience passes them on to others.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on storytelling in marketing.
Here’s a related cartoon from 2011.