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Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Advertising

Communicating through story is as old as communication itself. Without storytelling, we would simply be sharing data without context or emotion. Even the most basic of conversations involve stories. Think about the last time you told your spouse about something that happened at work, or explained the possible dangers of talking to a stranger to your child, or recalled the best scene from the movie you saw to your best friend. Did you provide just the facts and only the facts?

Storytelling can change perspective, influence thought, inspire action and sway opinion. Little wonder that storytelling is fundamental to successful marketing in today’s environment. Consumers don’t want to be talked to, they want to be conversed with. They don’t want to hear what you think is important about your brand, product or service; they want to know how it can make their lives better, fulfill an unmet need or align with their personal values.

A quick Google search will yield hundreds of articles and blog posts about why storytelling is important, and I invite you to read some of them. In fact, I’ve included a few links below to pieces I thought were worth the time spent. What I’m sharing today is the successful outcome of an experience unique to our agency.

Howard Energy Partners came to us during the beginning phase of a once-in-a-lifetime, history-making project that was the result of years of planning and negotiation by their leadership. Howard Energy Partners and Mexico-based company – doing business together as Nueva Era – would build the first natural gas pipeline to cross the Texas-Mexico border, transporting gas from the fields of Webb County directly into Monterrey.

For such a complicated initiative, the request of our team was fairly simple: document the project’s construction in a full-color, coffee-table-type of book. From a storytelling perspective, the project was both exciting and incredibly challenging. Unless the reader is intimately involved in the industry or closely connected to one of the companies involved, why would he or she want to read this book? How could we deliver a quality, compelling narrative devoid of vanity?

Our creative team developed an appealing, contemporary design and paired it with a captivating story that together embraced the distinctive features of the land, the nature of the work, the impetus behind the project and the process of making the historic initiative a reality. Our client was thrilled with the end product, and the book was so well-received that they requested a second printing. However, the ultimate reward was an endorsement of the power of a good story.

During the 2019 San Antonio American Advertising Awards judging, one of the judges commented, “I don’t care about pipelines. I never wanted to know anything about them, nor would I willingly read about them. But this book is amazing. Everything I’ve seen and read in the Nueva Era book makes me want to see and read more.” The other judges agreed, saying they were drawn into a story, not a promotional piece. They awarded the Nueva Era book with three gold ADDYs for book design, art direction and copywriting, and the Best of Print award.

Yes, I am unabashedly proud of my team’s talent and the amazing work they create, but your take-away should be this: well-crafted stories are meaningful, fascinating, powerful and effective. And whether you are marketing a restaurant or a resort, a politician or a pipeline, there is a story to be told and people who want to hear it.

Want some help crafting your story, or do you have a story about storytelling that you’d like to share? Reach out to me any time at Katie@KGBTexas.com. I’d love to hear from you!

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