Continuing on my mental model month I tried to summarise the value I see in stories. At its simplest when people communicate they are trying to get across and idea. The audience can be transported by the communication to understand the idea, getting to a shared understanding. On the other hand the audience may fail to get the idea.
In both these paths, storytelling is an effective communication method because stories create triggers that transport you to the shared vision of the idea faster than any other form of communication. On the other hand stories can miss their mark but still be useful in overcoming issues in the audience’s mind that stop them getting to a shared vision. In both paths are supported by storytelling.
The stories we are talking about are not fairy tales. The more I speak about storytelling the more I have learnt to add this paragraph. For some people its natural to think that we mean the type of story that we tell children. While that is a possibility and the simplicity of children’s stories is worth looking at, I am really talking about the small bites of communication that we can use. The style of narrative allows meaning and context to be understood. Stephen Denning in the Springboard ignited my interest many years ago with his observation of telling a story about knowledge management at the world bank. He found that when he opened his presentations with a small description of an event in Africa and the way his organisation could manage knowledge management better, people quickly understood the whole of his presentation and it was easy to speed across the organisation. His African springboard story transported his audience. I had the same experience in communicating the value proposition for an antibiotic. By looking for a universal story about the antibiotic, I was able to communicate quickly and effectively. The more I look, the more I see storytelling supporting great brands.
In pharmaceutical sales, this model just as valid. Stories communicate the value of the therapy, how and where to use it. There are may times when the story doesn’t transport the audience to the shared idea. Objections are the classical way sales teams work through discussions with physicians, using evidence based medicine to discuss concerns and build confidence. Storytelling helps here too. Case studies, narratives and stories of how other people overcame similar issues are effective at getting across the evidence for your brand.