What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is a popular buzzword. It’s become so popular that I’ve heard the term interchangeably with Marketing and content marketing. I think that misses the mark.
My own background has helped me shape a definition of storytelling that I find most accurate. I earned a degree in journalism, where I learned the five W’s and an H: who, what, where, when, why, and how. These are the most basic elements to any story. And getting the facts right around those elements was drilled into me from very early on. I once failed a pop quiz in a journalism class taught by a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter for misspelling just one of the answers. Facts matter. Got it.
After college, I jumped into the professional world as a copywriter at a little four man, B2B PR and marketing firm. My job was to create content for B2B tech clients. Before the hype around storytelling, our clients were focused on creating “serious” content. Everyone was hell-bent on presenting the facts and figures in an authoritative tone.
From there, I went on to cut my teeth across a number of marketing disciplines, working as an account manager, email manager, social media strategist, and director of client strategy. And in each of those roles, the idea was the same: only create “serious” content for B2B clients. But I wasn’t really connecting with any of the content I was crafting—a difficult admission for a creative like myself. Even worse, I had an inkling that this content wasn’t really resonating with our audiences either. But, it’s what our clients were demanding.
I knew we were missing something, so I took a chance with my first Fintech client—a company in CNP fraud prevention. Steve, the VP of marketing, had asked me to put together a guidebook on what merchants should know about chargebacks. “Here we go again,” I thought to myself. “This is going to end up as a boring, bulleted list of facts about acquirers and issuing banks and the dispute process.” It seemed like a total waste of time and money, so I pivoted.
Instead, I built a story around chargebacks, complete with characters and a conflict and a resolution. I proceeded to lay out all the facts and figures, just as had been discussed with the client, just…with a twist. I turned chargebacks into villains and dispute alert services into superheroes and built an entire comic book story around the chargeback problem. I wanted to bring some of these fintech stories to life.
I proofed and fact-checked and sent it off to the client. Then I went to bed and pretty much assumed I was going to be fired the next day. When I woke up, I had an email in my inbox from Steve:
“Ashley, we need to talk………….
I don’t know if you ate your Wheaties yesterday or what, but this is inspired. I love the direction and I want to do more like this.”
It was then that I realized that storytelling or content marketing—or however you want to frame it—is much more than getting the facts and figures across; it’s also about connecting emotionally with your audience, whether through humor, authenticity, humanity, vulnerability or by painting a better picture.
It’s a good balance of all these things.
Stay tuned next week for the following part of the series. In the meantime, download our Fintech Marketing Playbook to get a winning strategy for telling better fintech stories that achieve desired business objectives.
Fintech Stories: What Does “Storytelling” Even Mean? was first posted on April 23, 2019 at 7:48 am.
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