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Yohei Guy - Wednesday 22nd July 2020

Relatability – The First Step Towards Great Storytelling

Storytelling is, without doubt, the most natural and compelling method of communication human beings have ever created. From the dawn of time, we’ve been telling stories in a variety of different ways. Literature, art, music, photography, film – nearly every medium and genre has utilised storytelling techniques as they’ve developed over time.

One of the strongest traits of storytelling is their relatability to the people engaging them. A story’s relatability allows people to empathise with plot, themes and characters in an intimate way so that its core message is one that becomes meaningful to us. It is, what some describe, the quality that enables us to become part of the story and makes the good ones resonate so deeply.

Relatability in storytelling can be just as effective as part of a digital marketing strategy as it can be in a work of fiction. Whether used through your website, social media, email marketing, content marketing or otherwise, having a relatable story could be the solid core you need to plan your strategy around.

Know your customers

Before getting started it’s important to consider your audience who, more often than not, will be the prospective customers for your business. Trying to embark on the quest for relatable storytelling without first knowing who you’re directing the story to is an extremely difficult objective to pull off. This inevitably makes everything more challenging leading to stretched timelines and resources.

The other risk in doing this is that you cast your net too broadly so that it inadvertently relates to no one or you miss the mark completely altogether. Campaigns can often look out-of-touch or tone-deaf in such situations which might actually generate its own publicity but for all the wrong reasons.

Getting to know your customers shouldn’t be a time-consuming or arduous task, especially if you already have a good understanding of your products and services. Sometimes, it’s more a matter of putting some time aside to pause and think about your customers in solace.

When thinking about your customers in this way, ask yourself “who are my customers?”, “where are they from?”, “what do they look like?”, “what are their interests?”, “what are their goals and ambitions?” etc. The better your ability to answer these types of questions, the more of that informed knowledge you can actually use to feed into your own stories when you start putting them together.

Relatable stories are memorable

Once you’re happy that you know your customers, the next step, which is probably the most daunting, is coming up with your own relatable story. If you haven’t done this before, this is where you realise how difficult it can be. A goal or marketing objective can be helpful to provide some sort of steer in terms of outcome but even with that, just getting started can be a test in itself.

One step to go through that might make things a bit easier is to think of other successful examples from your own memory. Try to think about why these stories were more memorable to you than others. Try to remember what specific qualities made them stand out from the crowd. Try to analyse and understand why they worked in the context of the storytelling and its audience.

Relatable stories that are successful tend to be the ones that stay with people and if you can understand why they do, you’ll find it easier to think about your own story and the channel/medium/genre you’re adapting when creating your own.

Relatable characters, emotions and experiences

Relatable storytelling doesn’t just have to about capturing something relatable in terms of a driving plot/narrative, although often it is. It can be achieved through other elements in the story such as characters, emotions, experiences – even simple moments can be enough to create that relatable hook and connection you need.

Try to think about this in the context of your own life experiences. Who are the people that you remember? What moments in your life have stuck in your memory and what experiences? Often the best examples from which to draw inspiration come from things that have happened to you in your own life. The great thing about this is that they are also experiences that you’ve usually shared with other people or that have also happened to other people.

Stories based on real-life experiences bring their own authenticity which is a trait that is hard to fake. It is these stories that ring true to people and are the ones people are most willing to open themselves up to.

Relatability builds trust

The type of storytelling described above will connect with people on an emotional level which is a great way of building trust with an audience. In the modern world, trust is a quality that is increasingly hard to build but authentic and relatable storytelling is still one of the best ways to do it.

People are very protective and guarded with their emotions but if your story is genuinely relatable on an emotional level then you’ll have a much better chance of having that trust extended towards other parts of your business.

This will be because your business has touched the individual on a human level and will be personified as a result of that. Your business will take on the personality, characteristics and values of that story from which people will be more comfortable and assured in a manner in which they can relate to you. They will trust who you are and what you stand for and from that, a relationship can grow.

Make relatability in storytelling a priority for you

As you can see, the reasons described above are more than enough to make relatable storytelling a priority for you and your business. It might take a few attempts before you find success with it but when you do, you’ll find you’ll form stronger and deeper connections with your customers because of it.

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