Engage readers with storytelling

Storytelling is having a moment. In marketing circles, it's the latest de rigueur tool. But storytelling has existed since humans sat around the fire at night and told stories to share their wisdom. Early adopters like the Brothers Grimm captured many of those stories and wrote them down so people could freak out their kids with stories of witches, trolls, and acts of derring-do, all the while passing along life tips like don’t trust an old lady in a gingerbread house.

We've been using storytelling techniques in medical marketing for years simply because it's a great way to get the point across in a way that's engaging and memorable. And storytelling can transform complex data sets into information that people can easily digest. All those specifications on your newly minted medical device might make your engineers go gaga but transform that data into a story that tells a customer how the device will impact their practice, and you win.

But how exactly do you craft an impactful strategic narrative? Here are a few guidelines to help write a compelling story.

  • Start with your audience in mind . Are you talking to physicians, scientists, consumers or another group? They each have their perspective and what they care about. By knowing your audience and engaging them within their framework, you can reach them on an emotional level.
  • Keep it concise and straightforward. Avoid jargon, be selective with content, and pare complex ideas down to their essence.
  • Take the audience on a journey . Use headlines, subheads, and sidebars as road signs along the way to help keep everyone on the path.
  • Use examples . Show how concepts work in the real world and apply to the reader.
  • Learn from the Bard . Most plays come in three acts: the setup, the confrontation, and the resolution. You can use that structure to convey your story as well. Set the scene, introduce the challenge, and resolve the problem.

Here’s a quick example of using storytelling in marketing that almost everyone is familiar with. Enter our heroes, the scrappy owners of a start-up, The Dollar Shave Club. Tired of shelling out big bucks to Big Razor (conflict!) they started their own company to manufacture comparable razors but at a better price that they’ll ship right to your mailbox (we’re saved!) Boom, marketing gold! The company took off like gangbusters and sold lots and lots of razors. (Eventually, they sold out to multinational conglomerate, Unilever, and so lived happily ever after, but that’s not part of the story.)

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