3 Keys to Visual Storytelling: Saturation, Engagement, Persuasion

BY Dwayne Roark, Global Business Communications Director,  Dow Chemical Company
Dwayne Roark, Global Business Communications Director,
Dow Chemical Company

A picture is worth 1000 words, right? It’s amusing to think that in 2016, when technology rules our lives, storytelling actually has taken a page from the past. Long ago it was cave paintings, monuments and basic mementos that visually told stories. Today it’s videos, photos and infographics. What’s more important than visual tactics are communications objectives and strategies. Storytelling always has a purpose. Going back to the pillars of communication, the purpose of storytelling was to inform, remind or persuade.

Inform = Saturation = Repetition: Informing the customer that your company is relevant in the marketplace depends on capturing his/her attention. Today, that requires complete saturation. You have only a short period before the customer becomes bored and moves to another topic. This is where visual storytelling can be vital. With a solid objective and strategy, visual storytelling quickly can become compelling. The customer moves to the inform stage of thinking.

Remind = Start a Conversation = Engage: With the limited attention and bandwidth of most customers, the goal of reminding a customer has truly become an art form. Reminding the customer goes beyond mere attention and moves into engagement. If the business objective is to grow and the strategy is to differentiate, then the communications objective will be to start a conversation, while the communications strategy will be to engage. As a result of starting a conversation the company can achieve the engagement needed to remind, which is possible through effective visual storytelling. The reason is scientific: We have better memories when multiple senses are engaged. Visual storytelling often does this.

Persuade = Influence = Action: As old as the act of selling, persuasion has been a staple of human existence. At the root of persuasion is the simple act of defining benefit(s). To persuade a customer goes beyond engagement and moves into influence and action. Persuasion is personal as customers are showing a level of trust when they choose to be influenced and take action based on a specific request. This is where visual storytelling can be especially helpful; it can explain how a given product or service can help the customer save money, time and/or peace of mind. This opportunity to understand and study the product/service benefits creates a level of influence that makes the customer believe, trust and become an advocate for the message. The customer is motivated to take action. All this is impossible without a meaningful storytelling experience, rooted in the simple act of persuasion by defining the benefit(s).

In conclusion, today’s landscape is ripe for messages that rise above the noise and deliver the inform, remind or persuade experience for a target market.

CONTACT: DJRoark@dow.com

This article originally appeared in the February 2, 2016 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.