The Age of Stories

age of stories

I’d like to take a moment to follow up on my last post. In ”The Age of the Storyteller” we talked about the current trends of no longer focusing on ownership – no matter what kind of ownership we’re talking about – and instead being more interested in access to the things previous generations were interested in owning. We’re moving on, from a focus on things to a focus on experiences, for good and for bad. What I described in that post, was what I saw as a clear opportunity for storytellers; as ”softer” values become more important, our craft – that of telling stories and conveying experiences – becomes more valuable.

But what about that craft, and what about those stories? Look at anything today, from marketing to media, from travel agencies to heavy industries, everyone seems to have received the same brief. ”Tell your stories! Your stories make you unique!”. Everywhere around us everyone is, or would want to be, telling stories.

And that is what everyone does… with mixed success.

Can every story be told? Absolutely. Is every story worth telling? Absolutely not.

The simple truth is that there is not an audience for every story that someone would want to tell. It might be due to a lot of circumstances – reach and distribution, wrongly targeted marketing… but most often it’s about the story itself, and it simply not being good enough, entertaining enough or simply right enough for the targeted audience.

What can we do, in this age of stories, to make our stories succeed?

For me, it all starts with a clear vision of whom we’d want to reach. Ideally we also know as much as there is to know about these people – future customers, future viewers, future readers, future collaborators… or whatever they might be.

We also need to be even surer about what we’d like the outcome to be, as our target audience takes part of our story.

We need to make sure we’re not telling stories for the sake of telling stories. We must only tell the stories that support the two criteria above – reaching the right audience with the desired outcome – 100%. No other stories need to be told, as they only serve to confuse and distract, us as well as them.

We have to test these stories out before we launch them, and not on our own families if we can help it. We must not say that something is ”good enough” – it must be spot on.

We must use our stories to show our audience a clear route forward, supported by clear calls to action and even clearer, tangible rewards for the engaged audience.

We need to be vigilant, prepared to act and react based on uptake and feedback – we need to live with our story, for as long as we’ve planned for it to engage an audience.

Finally, we have to avail ourselves of all the research possibilities available to us when it comes to analyzing results of our storytelling efforts. This knowledge is something we take with us to the next venture. Nothing beats experience – as long as we know how to take advantage of what we’ve learned.

If we can do all this… we might be looking at an Age of Wonders, as well as an Age of Stories.


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