What Storytelling and Marketing Have in Common

We all love and value a good story, and storytelling whether its childrens story time or helping a teen with his report is a core function of the public library. What you may not realize is that storytelling is also a core function of marketing.

The latest buzzword in marketing is content marketing, which is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as:

A marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Storytelling is what distinguishes effective content marketing. As any librarian who has conducted a childrens story hour knows, people engage more fully with a story. They tend to remember facts better when framed within a story, and they often become emotionally connected to the topic.

Marketing figured this out long ago. The soap opera is a great example of content marketing.

Today, as social media has driven the phenomenon of everyone is a publisher, marketing has become much more focused on creating new content. The very best efforts seek to use the art of storytelling to promote their brand.

Brands are also using a variety of tools to tell their story. Stories arent simply told in words: Visual components such as video, photos, and graphics are increasingly important, especially among younger audiences, who tend to be visual learners. Organizations are also integrating conversations as a critical channel for telling their stories, recognizing the impact that social media is having on the buying decision.

Marketers are also finding that they must market through a variety of channels. Advertising and public relations continue to be valuable tactics, but new communications tools emerge every day. Facebook dominates the social network landscape, but newcomers like Instagram (recently bought by Facebook for $1 billion) and Pinterest are gaining influence.

Here are three valuable resources that can help you develop stories and content around your public library:

  • The Content Marketing Institute is a wealth of information on how to create, curate, and distribute content through social networks and traditional marketing vehicles. The Content Marketing Playbook is an essential overview of the tools and channels available for telling your story.
  • The Get Storied Blog covers the art of the narrative and the role it plays in branding yourself and your organizations brand. The Storytelling Manifesto offers tips for framing your brands story.
  • Thaler Pekar helps companies develop effective organizational narratives. Her article about the Benefits of Building a Narrative Organization, which appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, frames the importance of storytelling.


About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.