How to get results with stories

Finnish companies are full of skilled experts. We are among world leaders in many fields that are shaping the future, such as machine learning, automation, and innovative food production. But can you really hear about this anywhere? I dare to argue that no, you can’t. And I know why. We suck at telling stories.

Finns do not show their feelings – true or false? On a global scale, we still can’t open our mouths. If we want to stay at the forefront of development, we have to look ahead and solve global problems.

Nyhtökaura ja Zircca-patukat

But we actually are already solving them. We have the first commercial 5G network in the world right here in Finland. We have created world-class alternatives for meat, such as pulled oats and cricket bars. We have fought our way to the top in automated systems – think about self-navigating ships for example. Still, the global media rave about a Norwegian self-navigating ship and Swedish oat milk.

When it comes to telling a story instead of just stating the facts, we don’t seem to get our voices heard.

Why turn data into stories?

We love facts. Figures, sums, and productivity analyses get highlighted in marketing. We make sure everyone knows how much more efficient the product is compared to competitors according to facts.

And there is nothing wrong with facts per se. Without knowledge, you can’t make an educated decision, whether it’s about a granola bar or a multi-million investment. Data itself, however, doesn’t take you anywhere. You have to create a story around it. That will get you better results than using just facts.

In storytelling it’s vital not to focus only on the technical features but rather on the challenge: how it has been solved and what kind of positive change it has brought about. You have to talk about the improvements your product can bring to an average Joe’s or ordinary Jane’s life.

First you have to make people believe in your story. Only after that can you bring out the facts to validate the story.

Control story business, control the world

There’s one thing Americans know how to do better than anyone else – pitching. While they work their way towards billion-dollar deals, they make sure the meeting is about an interesting story rather than product quality alone. Big decisions are made based on elevator pitches, so it’s worth investing in a story.

Before humankind learned how to write and use the internet, our memory served as our Wikipedia. This is why people make their stories as memorable as possible. We tell stories without even noticing it: at the hairdresser’s, at the doctor’s, or when having coffee with our colleagues. But still they are hard to tell when we enter the world of corporate communications, the world of facts.

Facts of the efficiency of stories

Why do stories yield better results than facts? If you aren’t convinced yet, I’m ready to offer a few facts to support my claim.

Tarinat aktivoivat aivoja kolme kertaa enemmän kuin faktat

Stories activate the brain three times more than facts alone, says professor Jennifer Aaker. Language, feelings, and sensory information are processed in different parts of the brain. Activating as many parts of the brain as possible might be important, if you want the person to remember your message.

Stories are 22 times easier to remember than facts alone. Activating feelings and memories works better than any memorizing technique. Looking at these facts, it’s clear that you should present your marketing promise in the form of a story.

Only an engaging story will be successful

What kind of stories go viral then? The emotive survival stories or tragedies of an individual. Social media is in turmoil over these weekly.

Slogans no longer cut it. A story has to be approachable and its concerns have to be genuine. This mindset doesn’t sit well with the traditional marketing mentality.

Gillette’s moving short film about the narrow role of men got everyone talking about toxic masculinity and Gillette for a while. Now new customers are pouring in. Also women, who have  billions worth of body hair.

How do you create a moving story? Contact us and we’ll show you how stories can get you ten times better results.