Image courtesy of wikimedia

Leicester City FC and the art of storytelling

What makes good storytelling capture the imagination of the media as well and the (wo)man in the street?

And why should B2B marketers – or any marketers for that matter – be exercised by this?

Case in point: Leicester City Football Club winning the UK football Premier League is, by some reckoning, one of the greatest underdog stories in the history of UK sport, never mind football.

Commonly described as a “small, unfashionable team” from the East Midlands, this team defied the odds (5000-1 against winning the title according to bookmakers before the start of the season last year) and left the big (and very wealthy) beasts of the Premier League such as Manchester’s United and City, and Chelsea, trailing in their winning wake.

But while a team winning the UK Premier League league would normally be headlines on the sports pages and in the broadcast sporting bulletins, the story of Leicester City FC was – today – the leading news story. At a time of plentiful hard news – the imminent local elections in the UK, racism rows in the major political parties, Syria and Donald Trump – that’s no mean feat. So, why would the media devote so much front-page and lead story attention to what is, in reality, a piece of entertainment news?

Apart from the fact that Leicester City beating some of the most expensively-staffed football teams on the planet is extraordinary (when Leicester played Manchester City in December 2015, the gulf in player cost was £270m), this story is exemplar of the ancient story archetypes. They are the story types that have been with us since humans began to tell each other tales and are, as Bryan Rhoads explains in the blog post, “central to our evolution as social animals and to how we learn about and make sense of our world. It’s how we share our common experience”.

Among the so-called Seven Story Archetypes, Leicester City FC’s story could be defined as a mixture of The Quest – overcoming obstacles or challenges to progress – and Overcoming the Monster – in essence, David vs Goliath.

These stories, and others among the classic archetypes, are human beings’ “shorthand” for understanding the world around us. And, for the media, they provide a clear and irresistible narrative; something to grab onto and elevate above competing narratives in the same news cycle.

So what does that mean for B2B marketers? 

Of course, it’s rare that your business or organisation will have a story to tell as unexpected and headline-grabbing as Leicester City FC’s. However, that doesn’t mean you stop looking for the stories within your people and your enterprise that may well reflect one or more of the classic story archetypes – the ones that will raise your communications above the commonplace. Other companies and brands capitalise on that approach, so why shouldn’t you?

What may have become “business as usual” to you – in your product development, your innovation, your harnessing of knowledge, expertise and experience to solve customer problems – may well be extraordinary to the outside world. You just haven’t told them about it yet.

Dig deep into what your business knows, what its people know and what it, and they, do; there will be stories yet to be shared and, if they can tap into the techniques of memorable storytelling, what you say will stand a better chance of getting noticed by the media, by those who consume it and being remembered.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

 

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