Storytelling: The only skill your business needs to last a lifetime

Storytelling: The only skill your business needs to last a lifetime

Listen up y’all: nobody cares about your business. But everybody wants to hear your story. If you got one to tell, tell them now. Or else.

A little over a decade ago, Lady Gaga was just another college kid who dreamed of becoming famous. She can play the piano and sing some tunes, but that’s all there was to her-at least in the eyes of record producers. She had no spark or glitter in her aura, not even a single hint that spells S-T-A-R.

Nothing is actually interesting about her. She was born relatively rich, graduated from a Catholic school, went to college and pursued music. It’s a pretty common path taken by most American kids, and mind you, only a few of them make it to Tinsel Town.

But how did Lady Gaga find the path to stardom? She told a story. No. She wrote her own story and sold it to the people who mattered. To record producers. To fellow musicians. To newfound friends in the industry. She wrote her story in her songs, in her personal profile, and into her image. She spread rumours about herself-some of them true, some of them need to be verified. But all of them she brought to life.

And the rest is history. Lady Gaga is now THE Lady Gaga we know. A multi-awarded musician, a top-grossing artist, a drag queen, a fashion icon, a stripper, a wig collector, a woman who wears raw meat to the red carpet, an occasional actress, and many other things you can think of.

Fans love her. Others hate her. Dreamers want to be like her. And yes, everyone can relate to her in one way or another.

But it’s not because of her musical prowess that skyrocketed her to the fame she’s enjoying today.

It’s all because she gave the world a story. The story of becoming-and being “Lady Gaga.”

The story behind the brand

If you’re going to use Lady Gaga as a case study of successful brand marketing, one key result surfaces and that’s about building a story behind the name. Without a story, your business, no matter how lucrative and promising it is for your target market, will not turn out as successful as you have envisioned. This is mainly because it doesn’t have a sentimental taste to it.

One open secret in the world of marketing is that consumers are always attracted to intrigue. Intriguing bits of information get them all excited, as they want to know more about the issue and find out what’s going to happen next. However, intrigues last for only so long, and if you are not able to keep the weave going, then the interest to the rumour and gossip that you have started will fizzle out within a matter of time.

But where does storytelling come in? Well, how else do you ignite the intrigue if you’re not going to tell it to your audience, right? It is through storytelling that you weave your pieces of intrigues together for your audience to follow.

A new buzzword is born every minute

Who says storytelling stops once you have reaped the profits of your investment? Whether you like it or not, once you have started telling your story, there will be no real “end” to it; you’ll be brewing a new arc and chapter each day. This is because a new buzzword is born in the industry you’re in as each minute passes by-and this directly affects the way you manage your business. In order to stay afloat, you will have to relate to these buzzwords and own a piece of them when marketing your brand.

Unlike the rest of the 20th century when the only means of spreading the word about your brand and business is via print, TV, radio, and hearsay, these days you have social media to do the task of broadcasting your story to the world. And the storytelling is made even meatier by your audience, since they will be spreading your story in their own networks, albeit with their own versions. This only makes your name and business more popular, not to mention get more recall from your targeted and related audience base.

Good stories vs. Bad stories?

If you’re going to look at it from a PR perspective, there’s no such thing as good or bad storytelling. But if you are after brand sustainability, the good stories always win at the end of the day. This is mainly because of two things: (1) audience recall, and (2) audience inspiration.

When promoting your business, telling a good story ignites a lot of positive emotions, and these make your brand worth remembering. Lady Gaga is often remembered for her enthusiasm for creativity and design, things she kept as the core values of her story. At the same time, these positive emotions lead to that feeling of being inspired and motivated. Audiences become attached to your brand because it makes them feel happy and alive.

Bad stories meanwhile are likewise useful, but do not last long. They can be used to spark intrigue, but have to be sustained by plot twists that lead back to the good stories otherwise they die out and leave nothing behind.

Storytelling is slow burn

Lady Gaga is no overnight sensation, contrary to the image she has created. She spent years writing her story, and even more years to spread the word to her targeted fans and networks. Nowadays she’s reaping the fruits of her labour, for despite experiencing career highs and lows, her name stays afloat in the business, standing strong. Honestly, she had contemporaries who were way ahead of her in terms of star quality, but their stories ended after achieving their 15 minutes of fame.

But Lady Gaga told her story differently.

And so should you.

 

About Edmund Ng

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