Storytelling: exciting stories in online marketing

More and more companies are running content marketing – but fewer and fewer customers want to consume content. One of the most powerful and at the same time most underestimated instruments is storytelling. The term initially sounds flat after “story tales”, but behind it is a whole system of rules. If you use them properly, you can increase your impact enormously.

How did I get to storytelling?

Although I (as you know) understand content marketing as a very good technique for online marketing, I asked myself for a very long time: “Is there not more? How can I get better? “For a long time, I found nothing but minor tips and tricks as well as the approach to increase the quality of contributions. On the SMX three years ago I heard Julius van de Laar as keynote speaker and learned for the first time (only marginally) about storytelling. This keynote fascinated me at the time, so I decided to focus on the topic of storytelling. And here I found what I had been looking for!

In Content Marketing, the following happens:

  1. More and more webmasters are creating more and more content.
  2. At the same time, web site visitors have less and less interest in these contents and are now “spoiled”.

Let’s look at the SEO blog section: Three years ago, he was almost extinct. Hardly anyone in Germany published new content. Meanwhile there are more and more good, new blogs with better content than ever before. At the same time, many webmasters have less time to read these good content. Already in 2014 Mark Schaefer spoke first of the “Content shock” . Even if it is still in the future: How do you get out of this misery? Through enormously good, new marketing concepts that take place in the niche.

One of them is storytelling.

After I read the book of had read Petra Sammer , I was much clearer. When I first ran the tests, I realized what a powerful tool you have. Building storytelling elements is often the icing on the cake for your content. In other words, if you are looking for something (for you) new and great in marketing, then you are concerned with storytelling.

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is a narrative technique that emotionally stimulates stories in such a way that the listener firstly hears the story and, secondly, is addressed on the emotional, not the factual level. Stories (in this case, about products or companies) narrated by storytelling are “more” and more memorable than the traditional stuttering of product features.

How does storytelling work?

Storytelling is not about simply telling stories, but telling them in a certain way. It is a “way of telling stories” that follows strict rules. My storytelling is a mixture of different different directions, composed of literary, biology and psychology. Sounds crazy – it is

Biology: You experience what you see , as if it was your own experience

Many scientists, led by Uri Hasson of Princeton University research for some time about what happens to the human brain when it hears stories. In principle, these are two important things:

  1. Our brain experiences the story as if it were happening to us. In part, our body even pours out the corresponding hormones and we show, for example, fear when we look at a Horrorfilm. The brainwaves of a person who experiences something exciting and someone who only looks at it are very similar. The same brain regions are active. A good video of this is The Dramatic Arc of Paul Zac
  2. The brains of story counters and listeners synchronize as a story is told. This effect is called “neural entrainment”. Through a good story, you can “implant” knowledge into strange brains.

Literary studies: Joseph Campbell and the heroic journey

What do Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have in common? Not only are they successful books, the stories of these works all follow a certain course, as the literary scholar Joseph Campbell has already discovered decades ago. This process is called “heroic journey”. It is quite complex, so I’d rather show you an entertaining video:


What does the heroic journey have to do with online marketing?

Quite simply: a start can be made with storytelling if one builds up its history similar to the heroic journey of Joseph Campbell.

That means:

  • The hero (for example, the customer) initially has a strong desire or a personal desire. For Frodo, Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker is easy – all want out into the world.
  • The hero leaves his habitual environment to dare something new. This is often the case in foundations.
  • He gets help from the so-called enablers – ideally from the company that actually wants in the video market the product.
  • He does not create it immediately, but reaches a crisis (as deep as possible).
  • In the end he reaches his goal (with the help of the Enablers), but is a different person than before and has changed in comparison to the beginning.

Look at the founding myths of Apple, Tesla and Google. You will surely recognize some elements of the heroic journey.

Psychology: Why does the heroic journey work so well?

Before I show you a typical heroic journey, I will go into a few theoretical things. As many know, I have studied history. I suspect, therefore behind the system of the hero’s journey a millennia, if not centuries thousands of years old tradition so ingrained in our culture – perhaps in the DNA – is that it responds each person.

  • The listener, ie the customer, automatically identifies with the hero (Caution: The hero must be a “normal” without special abilities, see Frodo, Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker)
  • The story is , as initially described, physically experienced and thus more perceived as other stories.
  • The story remains far better in the memory than without storytelling elements – even after a very long time. Look, if you can reconstruct well Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings – and to compare any 08/15 action movie.
  • Last but not least, your potential customers approach you at an emotional level, not at a rational level. The Persuasionsprozess, ie the conviction of the product takes place unconsciously – one can hardly resist.

Start something new: A parade example of storytelling

And? Did you notice? Many elements of the heroic journey are included in this video. The crisis in which the protagonist usually falls on his journey is missing, but the rest is excellently implemented. Did you see this commercial as an advertisement? The old man’s departure is very well elaborated, when he suddenly can no longer sit in his usual place (crisis) and the transformation when he returns.

Why do I use storytelling specifically in online marketing?

  • For the foundation of your company
  • For a success story of a customer – here you can either a parabola or Example story construct. Or – and best – of course it is with real customers
  • For presentations at a conference or meeting – here you hear guaranteed 100% more people to
  • For individual blogposts
  • For videos – that even is the best medium for


Storytelling is, in my opinion, one of the most important techniques to bring its content marketing to a new level. I have mixed many different definitions of storytelling and many different “schools”. There is much more to explain and to explain, but for the beginning this is enough. This is almost “my” storytelling. There is much more out there. More different perspectives, methods and techniques, which I could not go into. Storytelling is the way also (and especially) for small business – you do not have or Ebay Harley Davidson hot!

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