6.1.6 This is Your USP (Unique Selling Position)

  1. Forms of storytelling


Short Form: The short form, in extreme cases only consists of a few words, a video that is only a few seconds long or a single picture. Thanks to its shrunken form, it speaks to the imaginations ability of the target group. Its effectiveness is thanks to strong metaphors and statement heavy pictures. Through the depiction of surprising, absurd or emotional scenes, these created stories remain stuck in the memory of the target group. A story consisting of a single thoughtfully arranged picture or one powerfully worded sentence, is ideal for insertion in social networks such as twitter or facebook, only requires a short time frame to understand (visually) and is happily shared.


Long form: In the long form of storytelling the first line is about creating build-up of tension and in this manner to capture the envisioned target group.  This can work equally well with articles and picture stories on a corporate blog as also with videos. Longer articles are especially suited for insertion on a corporate blog or in a typical print- media such as a brochure. But even sharing through social media (preferably with a little teaser) can be considered. 


Mixed Form: Mixed form, in this passage, is understood to mean the combination of varying story-instruments (pictures, video and text) of varying lengths.  Mixed forms offer multi-faceted possibilities and are often inserted in practice.  Mixed forms can be inserted in all channels. 


  1. Tips for successful storytelling


  • Relevance: Even an ever so well thought out and told story has hardly any chance of a great reach, when it can barely present itself near the envisioned target group. For example, if you are a church primarily geared toward people in the middle class, families with 1-3 kids, then it would not be very relevant for these families if you explained on your website, how strong your afternoon coffee service for pensioners are and that you as a church just engaged a social worker for a pensioners discussion with the topic “Patient Decree and Elderly Care”. Your story should always begin with a VERY relevant topic, the best is even a need that the target group has. For example, “50% of all marriages end in divorce while children are between the ages of 7 and 10 years old- with us you regularly receive courses and coaching so that this does NOT happen to your marriage!”
  • Visually stunning words and metaphors: In the textual realm a story is substantially carried along through the vocabulary that is used.  Visually stunning words and metaphors give wings to the imagination and burn more deeply into the memory of the audience. This is all the more important the shorter the story is. It is not for nothing that one does not read about “smoke overcast, barren volcano island in the pacific” in travel brochures. Rather, one reads about “cornices of stone that watch over the simple beauty of the island, blow their black breath toward the sky, and wait patiently to rejuvenate and overtake the island with boiling streams of magma.” 
  • No cliché metaphors: Nevertheless, one should pay attention to not using overly cliché metaphors or analogies. While 15 to 20 years ago one was still able to attract a lot of attention with these kinds of stories (for the reason that storytelling was hardly used and its novelty alone was captivating) customers today are fundamentally critical. If someone today were still to tell epic stories of knights, magicians and dragons they would, in many cases, invite little more than yawns.
  • Authenticity: In contrast, authenticity, in its broadest sense, is fundamentally more successful with many target groups. Of course storytelling is always about constructing a story, however it will be fundamentally more convincing if they are based on real events, be they more exaggeratedly presented or solemnly colored. This method works especially well for example if one bases it on the moving biography of the companies founders and tells it from a different angle. All these points aid in the creation of or building up of tension and make sure that potentially interested people are captivated. 


  1. Typical Hooks


For normal storytelling three different hooks are recommended. Either one builds the story around the church or the brand itself, one places specific church figures in the foreground, or one outlines a story in which the customer him/herself plays the main role. Below the three named hooks are explained.


Church/Brand: One can move the church itself to the foreground in various ways.  If it revolves around a traditional story- possibly with many highs and lows- it is recommended to reference and visually embellish these. Even church figures can be named in this context. A completely fantastical story can also be constructed around a brand that can substantially influence the image of certain products. The best example for a venture that equipped its brand with a memorable story, is Red Bull. The marketing experts have written countless stories around the slogan, “Red Bull gives wings”, and continually work further at the memorable marketing identity.   


Meaningful People: Truly existing, charming, creative, or even in any way unique people are also excellently suitable as a hook for a good story. One can think of Steve Jobs, the current marketing image for Apple who was a substantial contributing factor and served as the public face of the company until his death. The contestation of Jobs as an equally creative as pleasant eccentric, first made Apple tangible for many customers.   With the church, we should of course be careful about the glorification of leaders. But even the Bible highlights people who are examples of faith for us (Hebrews 11). We people need such examples and this is also allowed to be made apparent in our story. 


Customer: In the realm of storytelling, the possibility of shifting the customer himself/herself to the center of the story, is not last. This can happen in pictures as well as in text. For example, if a prototypical customer appears and is confronted with the corresponding product in a creative way.  


A good example of the kind of storytelling that places the customer in the center, was given by Zalando with its “shout of happiness” campaign, that shows the euphoric reactions of customers who had shoes from the company delivered.


Result: Storytelling is doable.


Rightly the term “storytelling” now belongs to the very major catchphrases in marketing. Telling a good story is surely not easy and cannot be pulled out of one’s sleeve. But storytelling is equally not the sorcery that it has sometimes been made out to be. With time, creativity and a certain understanding for mood, tension, and good story, the good, completely individual, story can be written and told for every church.