Marketing Magic: 10 Tips For Improving Your Storytelling Craft

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Storytelling is a critical skill for marketers. A good story, well told, can draw an audience in and give them a sense of personal connection with the teller. The ability to spin a good yarn often sets high-achieving marketers apart from their peers. Many people are natural storytellers, but even those who aren’t can learn this important skill.

We asked a panel of Forbes Agency Council members to open up about the most valuable storytelling lesson they’ve learned in their careers and why that lesson was so impactful. Read on for advice you can use to make your own stories more effective.

Members of Forbes Agency Council offer suggestions for becoming a great storyteller.

1. Bare It All

Baring it all in personal stories makes you accessible, engaging and memorable. Through my personal experiences and through coaching clients, I have learned it’s not the stories that pump and fluff you up that people latch onto, it’s the raw, personal stories that take you down to basics that resonate with audiences. Your success is obvious; your journey and struggles are not. Share them! - Beth Noymer Levine, SmartMouth Communications

2. Focus On The Audience For A True Connection

When I was studying acting, a method I learned utilized my instincts to be in touch with the other actors in the scene. I focus on them instead of myself. This method works great with storytelling as it encourages a connection to the audience. The audience is a crucial part of how the story is told. With that, your telling of the story changes with different audiences and your connection to them. - Henry Kurkowski, One WiFi

3. Use ‘The Side Door’ For A New Perspective

When I was a young intern at an ad agency in Detroit, an art director who was kind enough to look at my student portfolio told me that the best headlines come when you “enter an idea through the side door.” It was his way of telling me that the most insightful way to tell a story is rarely the most obvious one. It’s a piece of advice I come back to early and often in the creative process. - Jess Cook, TMV Group

4. Be Authentic And Show Vulnerability

Stories inspire emotional connections, but that’s hard to do if people don’t believe you. Audiences tend to appreciate an insider’s perspective; when you let them in, they reward you with their loyalty. Being vulnerable gains the speaker goodwill, which often shifts the audience’s mindset from critical, where they are evaluating everything, to a more comfortable comprehensive listening mindset. - Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

5. Anchor Your Story In A Human Truth

Across the globe, we are all so beautifully different, and yet so comically the same. At our core, we all struggle with the same tensions: grief, depression, aspiration and hope. The context always changes, but the human truths behind it are constant. By anchoring a story in a human truth, we are able to write stories that cut across cultures, nations and peoples. We write a human story. - Meggan Wood, Innate Motion

6. Understand That You See Things As You Are

The quote attributed to the writer Anaïs Nin, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are,” has been a positive reference point for storytelling throughout my career. An understanding that how you listen and what you say are both based on your perspective has proven useful in competitive analysis, value propositioning, work fire management and a more overall open-minded outlook. - Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc.

7. Don't Get Bogged Down In The Details

The details of a story will always be important, but knowing the insight and science behind how human memory works can truly help focus the storytelling. This allows us to create deeper, long-term engagements for our clients. Often, we get stuck creatively on the little things when we don’t always need to. We must step back and remember what our business purpose is and how best to achieve it. - Jessica Reznick, We’re Magnetic

8. Empower Others To Tell Your Story

One of the most powerful ways to have your story spread and be heard is to empower others to tell it. It’s amazing when your story is told with different voices, accents and angles and on different mediums. This allows for the consumer to enjoy the content in a more natural and native way. - Darian Kovacs, Jelly Digital Marketing & PR

9. Be Real And Your Story Will Resonate

Don’t worry about what you think you should sound like, or what you think your story should be — just be real. The gold in most stories usually isn’t some crazy event, but the small little nuggets that truly resonate with an audience and capture their trust. Ask yourself if a majority of people could resonate or relate to your story. If yes, you’re on the right track! - Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

10. Turn Numbers Into Narratives

As a digital marketing company, we’re constantly trying to tell stories while staring at a big spreadsheet of numbers. Take your data and the changes in the data and translate the numbers into a hypothesis about the cause and effect, what it means, and what it’s telling you to do next. Weave these together and you’ve created an impactful story and recommendation that has merit. -Dan Golden, Be Found Online