As long as I can remember, my skin has been prone to redness. Exercise turns my face into a blotchy tomato. Cold and wind burnish my skin to a ruddy shine. Even washing my face, no matter how gently, leaves it pink. And there’s a good reason I apply SPF 50 daily—UV rays and I are not friends!
I’ve dealt with acne and/or rosacea (dermatologists can’t agree which is the underlying issue) most of my adult life and have tried just about everything to fix it. Cutting out dairy. Limiting processed sugar. Applying expensive creams. Buying celeb-endorsed treatment systems (Proactiv was both ineffective and bleached my pillowcases). Using prescription ointments. Attempting hormonal intervention (so thankful to be off the pill!). Taking antibiotics… then different antibiotics… and even more kinds of antibiotics. And now retinoids, which at least deliver moderate improvement.
Earlier this week my mum mentioned that it would have been her father’s 104th birthday. It shocked me to realise how long ago he passed away… more than a decade and a half. Despite not having many memories of my younger years (I’m told I had a happy childhood and the photos certainly support that!), I’ve retained strong impressions of my grampa. They’re mostly fleeting images or smells or a remembered turn of phrase or tone of voice; often comforting and rarely complete. And sometimes those memories arise at strange times.
I started a creative writing course in September and our first assignment was to write a 500-word story with only one primary character and one primary setting—not a heck of a lot of space to develop anything. Thankfully walking the dog (or more accurately standing around while she wanders slowly from sniff to sniff) gives me lots of time to mull over story ideas. That slow-paced dog walking was the genesis of the fictionalised episode I created for the assignment and have included below.
As a librarian, I understand the importance and value of storytelling and, as a marketer, I know how convincing narrative can be – but it’s as a human, that I really get the power of a good story and its ability to inspire, educate and connect.
Despite the modern world growing increasingly frenetic, a well-told story is still the most engaging way to explore different perspectives and learn new things – particularly when there’s some emotional resonance. At libraries all over the world, kids sit on the floor in a circle for story time, listening earnestly to fairy tales, while learning how language works and developing an interest in the broader world. As adults we replicate that sense of shared entertainment and satisfy our need to be part of something bigger through books, sports, movies, TV – and particularly social media.
From Facebook to Instagram and beyond, there is an onslaught of communication tools (check out Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic for 5000+ of them!), but all that technology is useless without the stories that connect us. We crave to understand other people and to feel like we’re not alone in the world. In everything from reality TV to advertisements that tug on our heartstrings, storytelling touches the core of human experience.
We may no longer sit on a library floor for amusement and perhaps it’s been decades since we told ghost stories around a campfire, but storytelling is not dead. If anything, the strength of a good story is more important than ever. A side effect of having information constantly at our fingertips, is that we expect everything to have a backstory. Consumers are looking for reasons to pick one brand over another and credibility combined with emotional connection is strong motivation.
How does ‘Once upon a time…’ connect you, your business, your brand? What stories do you tell to tap into the age-old desire to be part of something bigger?
Storytelling is powerful. Don’t let the profound humanness of narrative pass you by.