Storytelling – why use it?

The Irish are great for storytelling!  Ireland is famous for the seanchaí (that’s Irish for storyteller).  The more emotion that is in the story, the more we love it!  If a story has a meaning or moral to it then all the better! How do we put this to good use in marketing?  Is storytelling an art form?

Cillian Fennell from Stillwater Communication gave a really interesting talk yesterday morning at the Marketing Institute of Ireland breakfast series.  So, here are some of the highlights from him:

  • When you are marketing your business, you are moving a customer from A to B.  By this he means your customer moves from not buying to buying.  Or from not being informed to being informed.
  • People are logical and emotional, which is why we all need storytelling with fact and fiction.  “Once upon a time…” is springing to mind!
  • What matters in the story you are telling is what it evokes in the mind of your audience.
  • From the age of three, we were pretending to be somebody else – a sense of augmented reality.  Remember pretending to be a sailor, teacher, mummy or daddy?!
  • Feelings and sentiment are sometimes more important than fact.
  • Don’t ignore the basic want, fear or desire of your audience – i.e. what want/need does the product you are marketing satisfy?
  • The story that happens in your audience’s mind is what is important – sometimes less is more.

Don’t get me wrong, Cillian was not advocating false news!  Far from it!  In his own words he says “truth is your defence”.

Marketing to appeal to emotions

Sometimes storytelling works very well when marketing a business.  And this helps us connect on an emotional level to a product or service if we know the roots of the business.  Some of the drinks businesses do it quite well by telling the story of brewing and the length of time it takes to produce – Bulmers and Guinness spring to mind.

Cillian closed on quite a poignant note by sharing six words from the shortest book Ernest Hemingway wrote:

“For Sale:  Baby Shoes.  Never Worn.”

His point being that our mind conjures up the story.  What happened?  Why were they not worn?  The poor parents!  The emotional side of our mind kicks in and takes over to make up or finish the unwritten story.

Next steps

So, do you use storytelling when marketing your business?  If not, could you?  It’s a really topical subject in the world of marketing at the moment.  If you need help to tell the story of your brand or business, please contact us at

Remember that your first hour consultation with Lush Marketing is free!