The Power of Storytelling

“Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” — Native American Proverb.

May 25, 2021

The above quote is one of my favourites and it still inspires me today in my mission is to help businesses to tell their stories.

Having worked within the hospitality industry for the majority of my career (almost 25 years) I have listened to and told many stories to audiences eager to soak up every moment, whether it was learning about a venue or showing a client event space for their occasion or even generally talking to them about Scotland, it was always about storytelling. As marketeers within venues we had to bring the (often) empty room to life with stories of previous events, visuals of previous layouts and videos of entertainment options. We often had to work hard to get our customers to listen to our story, to make sure that our hotel, venue or restaurant would stand out and be remembered when clients returned to their offices to present the options and their findings.

What do your audience need to know? When do they need to know it? These guiding principles stay with me to this day. Good marketing is about connections and giving people the right information at the right time. If you can strike a real connection with your audience by being really relatable then even better.

Tell your story; really resonate with your audience. What are they feeling at the moment? Are you listening to them? What do they need to hear from you? Do they need reassurance? Escapism? Comedy? What do your analytics tell you that they want from you? Lean in to them, learn from them and you’re more than halfway there.

I had the pleasure of working in Disneyland Paris back in 1996 when it was celebrating its 5th birthday. Everything about working in Disneyland was so captivating that it was like living in a parallel universe. The training was incredible, it was long and very thorough. In simple terms, we were taught how to tell stories. We were taught how to share the magic. I was so young with very little hospitality experience at that stage so I soaked it all up!

When it came to giving people directions within the park, that was a whole behavioural session and we were shown how to gesture with open arm movements. We were not allowed to point just in case another guest ever felt you were pointing at them. Even the ‘sick bay’ for staff was completely magical - “just follow Mickey Mouse's footprints on the floor”  they would say - giant Mikey shaped prints were printed along the corridor leading you to where you needed to go to recoup. Whether you were presenting to guests at the entrance to a restaurant or lying in the sick bay (it was just the once!) you were surrounded by the Disney narrative and values and literally held by them. The stories were everywhere, there was no escape from that Disney magic!