Last week, tickets went on sale at CU Boulder for an event featuring best-selling author Brené Brown, who conducts research on courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. Within 48 hours, all of the 2,000 event tickets were sold out. Of those, the 500 tickets available to the general community were purchased in less than 30 minutes, leaving over 6,000 people in the virtual waiting room without a ticket. With such a strong following, it is clear that there is something unique about Brené Brown and her work that has thousands of people wanting to be in her presence. What is it that draws such crowds to hear a researcher share her findings? The key lies in vulnerability and storytelling.
By being willing to open up and share her biggest struggles, Brené Brown has learned how to captivate an audience. While it is more common and expected to hear a researcher list findings and discuss quantitative data, Brown has chosen a different method of communication – storytelling. We often imagine storytelling as the depiction of a legendary tale that involves a classic hero and villain, but it actually extends far beyond that. Storytelling is a way to share an experience, transformation, or journey; by being an effective storyteller, one is putting themselves on display and, in the process, keeping their audience invested.
Storytelling marketing uses this tactic to spread a company’s core message. By focusing on the story, rather than the end product or service, a deeper meaning is added. When you can engage your audience and connect them to something greater than themselves, the service or product becomes secondary to that message and feeling of connectedness. Just as Brown has used authenticity as a tool to sharing research and helping others invest in her message, companies can utilize storytelling as a way to shift from ordinary to extraordinary.
In one of Brown’s TED talks, she describes stories as data with a soul, so why is it that many of us have such a hard time seeing the link between research and storytelling? A story can add extensive value to a brand, and by learning how to utilize this skill as a way to share meaningful research, it can drastically alter an individual’s perception of a product or service. Just as Brené Brown has used the power of storytelling and emotion to captivate audiences, learning how to apply storytelling marketing to a company can help it take flight in a whole new way.
Featured image of Brené Brown speaking at TEDx event courtesy of TED.com