Tag: storytelling

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

How storytelling turns into effective marketing

Beyond the engaging power of compelling stories, there are many important aspects to take into account when intending to use storytelling for marketing purposes, in order to optimize the impact of the brand story in terms of reach, image conveyed and conversion. How the message is delivered is as equally important as the content of the message itself.

The paradigm of story marketing is that the focus of the story is neither the product nor the brand, but the main character or hero with whom the audience is to feel identified. The primary goal of stories is to connect emotionally with the audience through the story characters, who share similar values and challenges with the listeners and therefore they regard the characters as a representation of themselves.

The destination is only the scenario where the story takes place and sometimes it may also play the role of mentor or facilitator, but the hero is the customer. It is critical for marketers to understand how the audience gets inspired through stories to shape their identities.

The story is primary and so the marketing message sounds much more genuine. Marketers have to understand that they have to first provide value with the story and only after the value is delivered they can introduce the call to action. People want to establish relationships with brands through meaningful storytelling.

The value provided may be entertainment, education or even amusement. The story is to establish the emotional connection with the audience and arouse the desire for more information to support the purchase decision. Once the audience has connected emotionally, the product is very likely to be sold.

Do you think of case examples for destinations where the story value provided is any other than entertainment?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Story innovation concepts: added value & crowd game driven experiences

Beyond the explained details of the four prototypes, there may be many other added value experiences to support the main one in fostering its popularity and conveying new contributions both in virtual and real world platforms. Some of these story related experiences could be video games (in the case of the prototypes 3 and 4 the video game is an essential component), comic based stories, theater plays, board games, movies, spin-off stories, merchandise products, etc. This is actually what film series such as Harry Potter, Star Wars or Lord of the rings have done to some extent, trying to satisfy the desires of their followers for more story related experiences.

With regards to the crowd game driven experiences, the environmental challenges would be driven by volunteers, usually entailing some kind of field work to achieve a certain goal in relation with the environment protection in the form of a game driven experience to make it more fun and stimulating. In the case of the creativity & cooperation challenge, it would be driven by contributors willing to prove their creative skills, in the form of a game driven experience where participants also have to prove teamwork capacity by solving one or more innovation challenges related with the mission purpose, which also serves as an educational experience in collaborative innovation. Finally, the educational fun experience is for tourists willing to entertain while taking away some significant learning outcomes related to skill development or social consciousness, for instance.

In the case of contributors in creativity & cooperation challenges and also in the case of story making contributors, there should be a system that not only facilitates but also rewards contributors based on a reputation and incentive system, in order to stimulate talented followers to bring in their passion and imagination to build the story world. This is not only crowd sourcing but also providing the audience members an opportunity to live a life-changing experience by exploiting their skills. The Whitepaper “Envisioning Open innovation in destinations” is to further develop the idea of the incentive and reputation system for contributors.

Do you envision other story innovation concepts to enhance the aforementioned ideas or to inspire new story based experiences?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Story innovation concepts: story platform

A key idea to understanding the aforementioned prototypes is that of the story platform. In this concept there is one principal author who drafts the main guidelines of the story, like the location, the value proposition, a basic plot, and some of the main characters. This could also be called the story backbone or the story constraints.

 Taking this platform story as a starting point, the free contributors –working individually or in groups- may create their version of the story by filling all the gaps that the backbone leaves to develop the contributors’ imagination, adding new characters and sub-stories that shape its uniqueness. As a result, there end up being many different stories with a common purpose related to the mission for which tourism is being developed in the destination. This is the case of prototype 2.

In the case of prototypes 3 and 4, there would also be a platform story with constraints and pre-determined ingredients. But the difference is that they are game driven experiences applicable to many kinds of missions that are created to draw flows of contributors, volunteers or tourists in taking real action in benefit of the mission purpose.

 Further, in these cases the roles of the participants are all pre-determined and every individual decides what type of role he or she wants to play in the story, with freedom to develop the role with his or her skills, ideas and knowledge.

Do you envision other types of story platform to develop story based experiences?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0

Destination story based experience prototypes

Needless to say that many more possibilities for each variable may be envisioned, but these are just some examples to help the reader understand the innovation method. Based on these ideas, we have drafted four story driven prototype experiences to illustrate the type of result that the innovation method may produce.

  1. Personal awareness & Spiritual development journey, in line with pilgrimages and similar experiences. This is usually a journey that is carried out alone as of a process of self-reflection and discovery. The role of the protagonist is that of a tourist, so long as he or she is the only beneficiary of the experience, and may encompass both walking routes and static setting stays. In this case, the tourist is to write the story at the end of the experience, ideally with the support of a training workshop, but the protagonist should work on drafting the story from the beginning of the experience. The goals of writing the story are completing the self-awareness and discovery experience, and to inspire others in living their own transformational experience.
  1. Story driven development of a theme route, as in the cases where some novels or films have inspired the development of tourism routes for the fans of the story. This would consist of a story contest launched by the destination management organization (DMO) based on some constraints or even a story backbone. In any case, the story has to be developed based on the destination as the story platform. The contest should be open to both individual creations and group co-creations. At this point, many formulas could be envisioned to encourage the contribution of as many people as possible. The value proposition of the story driven experience should be in line with the tourism 3.0 principles, which means that it should have at least an educational or cultural transformation goal, without disregarding the fun or entertaining value.
  1. Crowd gaming ongoing experience consists of an ongoing story driven experience that takes place in a certain setting without a time limit. This experience takes the form of a mission driven game or challenge, and so the mission accomplishment is what keeps on driving the development of the story game. There is no foreseen end, as long as the mission is not fully accomplished. Such story would work like an MMO game where everybody is entitled to participate both in the virtual and the real world platform in the destination. The location could be any type of destination and the protagonists could either play the role of tourists, volunteers or contributors, depending on the type of challenge: educational fun for tourists, environmental protection challenge for volunteers, and creativity & cooperation challenge for contributors. In this story driven experience, the story plays the role of drawing tourists, volunteers or contributors to the story making and to visit the destination to participate in the real world experience.
  1. Crowd gaming event consists of a crowd sourced game driven story that is played like an MMO game with some real world experience along the story, but especially at the end of it. The events could take place in almost any type of location, including cities, nature settings, cultural destinations or theme parks –for instance- depending on the ultimate purpose and nature of the real-world experience. Such purpose could be for an environment protection challenge, creativity & cooperation challenge, or an educational fun experience. As in the case of the Crowd gaming ongoing event, the role of the protagonist is related to the purpose of the experience, and so could be a volunteer, contributor or tourist. In this type of story-driven experience, the story also plays the role of drawing attention, participation and contribution of individuals in the co-creation of the story, the contribution related to the purpose and in visiting the destination when the event takes place.

Out of the innovation parameters explained in the previous post, do you envision other story based experiences?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Story innovation framework and guidelines

Based on the trends mentioned in previous posts, we have envisioned some innovation guidelines to integrate storytelling with real world tourism experiences. To do so, we have identified seven variables that define each of these story-driven tourism experiences. By playing with different combinations of values for each variable, we can develop an innovation method.

Type of experience refers to the variables that shape the way the experience is delivered, such as individual or group activity, ongoing availability or scheduled availability (the case of events), location based or route based, game based or journey based, etc. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of experiences:

  • Walking route, to be experienced by oneself or in group
  • Stay in a location, to be experienced by oneself or in group
  • Crowd gaming event
  • Crowd gaming ongoing experience (24/7)

Type of story authorship refers to how many people have contributed to the creation of the story. In this regard, there have been envisioned three main types of authorship:

  • Individual
  • Group co-creation, referring to a limited group of people
  • Crowd co-creation, referring to a story where everybody is entitled to bring in their ideas

Type of location refers to the kind of setting where the experience is to be delivered. In this regard, there have been envisioned five main types of settings:

  • Theme park or resort
  • City
  • Nature setting
  • Cultural or Theme route
  • Cultural destination (other than a city)

Type of value proposition refers to the core of the experience, its aim and its value. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of value proposition:

  • Environment protection challenge or rally
  • Educational fun
  • Creativity and cooperation challenge or rally
  • Personal development and awareness journey

Role of the protagonist refers to the type of role developed by the person who is to live the experience. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of roles:

  • Tourist
  • Volunteer
  • Contributor
  • Brand ambassador

Type of story creation refers to the creation process of the story, in line with the aforementioned trends. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of story creation process:

  • Contest and crowd or group co-creation based on backbone story, with location and value proposition constraints
  • The author writes the story at the end of the experience, with the support of a storytelling training workshop, though he or she drafts the story for as long as the experience takes place.
  • The story-game is co-created in digital platform –like an MMO game- and the real-world experience takes place when the virtual story-game is already advanced or right at the end.
  • Ongoing open co-creation by the crowd contribution –under established rules- both online and on the real site, like a never ending MMO game that takes place simultaneously in the real and virtual space.

Role of the story refers to the relationship between the story and the experience, in terms of cause-effect and temporary sequence. In this regard, there have been envisioned four main types of story role:

  • Inspire the development of a new tourism experience or product, like a themed route
  • Draw a crowd to drive an MMO game based challenge that ends with a real world event
  • Tell the personal journey experienced in relation to an existing tourism product
  • Draw audience to follow a story driven game or challenge, learn from it, and inspire them to live their related on-site experience and contribute to the story building

Would you consider any other story innovation parameter to this method framework?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Story audience profiles: how does each interact with the stories?

The study identifies four segments according to the relationship they establish with stories:

Seekers are focused on immersion. They want to know more details about the story, learning about the context in which the story takes place and about the lives of the characters beyond their role in the story. They mainly research three types of information:

  • Back-story about the setting, the characters and the plot
  • Exploration of the story context
  • “Sneak peeks” from past and future episodes

Relaters are focused on interactivity. They would like to share their favourite stories with relatives and friends, and also discuss them with other story followers. They are social media active players, and their top future requests are:

  • Interaction with characters in a free way
  • Experiencing the story world through all their senses
  • View the story from each character’s point of view, and switch from one character to another

Realists are focused on interactivity, integration and impact. They are interested in merging the story with a real world experience, mostly if it leads to meaningful outcomes like supporting a worthy cause, learning new techniques for personal growth and other aspects related to their quality of life. Their main requests are:

  • Bring stories to the real world, involving real objects, places and people
  • Discover new products and learning know-how that enhances their quality of life
  • Learn more about the characters’ lives, and the context of the story

Players are focused on immersion, interactivity, integration and impact. They love interactivity, and are especially keen on stories featuring game elements and a certain spirit of challenge and competition. They are also willing to contribute in the development of the story and integrate the story within the real world. Their top requests are:

  • Compete with other players in the game and cooperate with them in developing the story.
  • Become story characters
  • Merge the real world with the story, influencing the story development with their actions

Apart from these segment specific motivations, the targeted tourism segments –specified in the Whitepaper “The Marketing Plan 3.0”- are mainly looking for experiences where they can be themselves, actively participate, provide value according to their skills and knowledge, make friends and interact with others.

Do you identify other types of audience segments with regards to their story interactivity?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Future story trends: audience’s future needs and desires

So far, stories had the power of drawing flows of tourists who wanted to know where the story they had read or seen in a film took place, and re-imagine the story in the real place, as a matter of curiosity. These types of stories may continue to work out, as they are actually the easiest to create in conceptual terms.

However, in the upcoming future, the innovation challenge will be to make the tourist take a more active and creative role, taking the previous stories just as a source of inspiration for creating their own. Destinations that really want to set themselves apart from others should seriously consider this innovative approach.

So long as new media technologies are developed empowering users to interact and take this active role in the media experience, new story experiences may be envisioned. In that respect, Latitude carried out an extensive survey in America, Europe and Asia-Pacific to research on the needs and desires of “story consumers” for the future.

According to this survey, there are six story trends that may shape the future of storytelling:

  • Real world integrated stories. Written stories accessible by different media that empower their followers to participate in story related events in their city, so as to have first-hand experience of the story, also generating new revenue streams. The story integration in the real world could entail incorporating networked real objects, augmented reality, 3D projected environments, and other technologies bridging the digital fiction with the reality.
  • Multi-platform supporting content. Adding depth to the story with complementary content through other platforms, by leveraging some devices’ strengths, such as the interactivity in tablets or smart-phone based content was demanded by 82% of the participants, whereas 68% demanded to access the main story content through mobile apps. The supporting content could be about the context in which the story takes place.
  • Actively influencing the story plot. Around 80% of the survey participants envisioned some ways of influencing the plot, like community based voting on the next step of the plot, crowd sourcing ideas to build and support the story, or even help in funding stories they are especially interested in. This point showcases the strong not only taking an active role but also contributing in bringing in their ideas and opinions, a key driver of marketing 3.0.
  • Interactive experience. Audiences are willing to increase their interactivity in their story experiences and also decide their level of interactivity at the outset, and eventually being able to interact as if they were a story character. Apart from the aforementioned ideas, there is a vast potential for innovation in introducing gaming features in the interactive experience, merging the story with the world of video games and roleplaying games.
  • Personal relationship with characters. In accordance with the desire for interactivity, many participants envision the possibility of establishing personal relationships with characters. As long as characters are those who build the emotional connection between the audience and the story, the story followers wish to know better those characters they feel identified with and admire. Followers need to test the integrity of the characters.
  • Characters for good. Audiences are willing to know characters that teach them how to overcome problems, live healthier life-styles, grow personally, support worthy causes, etc. Characters promoting good changes either in the personal sphere or the social scope are more welcome than ever before. According to the survey results, 88% of the participants want stories to help them to learn about and support worthy causes.

Do you envision other desires or aspirations with regard to story related experiences?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Types of stories

In marketing destinations, stories may be real or realistic fiction. In this respect, it is advisable that the author states at some point whether the story is or not real, no matter whether the character names are changed to protect their privacy. Apart from these two categories, there may be as many kinds of stories as our minds can imagine. However, there are some prototypes of stories that are more often told, and that illustrate the various types of narratives that may be used for our destination stories:

  • Challenge and achievement stories are those focused on the struggles of characters having to strive against many difficulties and overcome many obstacles to survive, to restore balance in their lives or in their community, or just to achieve an important dream that is worth all these efforts. This could be the case of new entrepreneurs at the base of the pyramid who start up a tourism related business in the destination and tell their story of struggle and achievement to inspire others to follow their example.
  • Connection and love stories are those that relate to two or more people usually coming from different walks of life, who meet and share many experiences that break some of their mental barriers and open their minds and their hearts to some realities towards which they had a rather negative attitude due to some misconception or cultural taboo. They are stories to foster cross-cultural understanding and challenge the human spirit to overcome cultural barriers and taboos for a better conviviality and cooperation among cultural communities.
  • Healing stories tell the experience of recovery from a serious disease or health challenge. Challenging recovery processes are usually a matter of mental strength and discovery of both the power of our minds and the power of our emotions. Learning meditation techniques and other personal development tools is an issue of growing interest that is also the object of many travel experiences.
  • Adventure stories are among the most typical travel related experiences. These may encompass many kinds of adventures related to sporting challenges and also entailing some dangers or unexpected results. These adventure stories may have a strong component of human spirit and personal transformation, as long as adventures not only pose physical challenges but mostly mental ones and sometimes have the power of awakening people’s human spirit, hence becoming a deep life-changing experience.
  • Transformational stories would be all those entailing an important self-discovery or self-improvement as a result of a process of reflection and personal development work. The storytelling training itself provides a valuable tool for self-reflection and discovery, acting sometimes as a healing therapy. This kind of story may match with the life-changing experiences of destinations 3.0, as long as they tell a story of personal transformation, most usually facing personal fears or weaknesses rather than external obstacles.
  • Creativity & cooperation stories may tell the challenges of volunteers or contributors who struggle to find innovative solutions and ideas to solve problems or to create more value for the destination. These stories are to show the power of human imagination to tackle almost any challenge with less effort than usual when thinking out of the box, or to create new opportunities for entrepreneurs by developing innovative experiences. These kinds of stories are to encourage stakeholders to challenge their imagination and join the pool of contributors to enhance the destination competitiveness. These stories are the key to building the new culture that destinations 3.0 need to develop.
  • Change leadership stories tell how community leaders or stakeholders take the role of brand ambassadors and not only through their speeches but mostly through example they manage to awaken other community member’s human spirit to cooperate in working for the destination’s mission accomplishment. These stories are to tell how change leadership works, and so provide an example for future leaders in the same or in other communities addressing similar challenges.


What other types of stories would you add to this list?

Culture changeMarketing 3.0

Key success factors of stories for culture change

In the case of stories related to organizational change, apart from the aforementioned points, there are some specific key success factors to take into consideration:

  • A strong sense of a plot to convince the listeners that the organization is heading to an exciting end for them all.
  • Meaning that drives action to help the organization’s members understand what their role is, what they have to do to play their role and which are the expected results.
  • Inclusive multiple versions to motivate all kinds of organization’s members to take action according to their role. Each member should see him or herself as a story character.
  • Simplicity helps in better understanding the plot and the logic of the sequence. This applies not only to the plot but also to the language used in the story.
  • Context is usually necessary for listeners to understand why everything happens, and so to be fully convinced that whatever happens is because it had to happen this way.

Beyond the story itself, skilled storytellers have the ability to connect with the audience and convey the emotions embedded in the story. How the message is delivered is as equally important as the content of the message itself. By telling the story with passion, enthusiasm and expression, the audience is more likely to get engaged.

Besides, great storytellers have the ability to turn “me” into a “we”, by telling stories that shine the light on a concern that both the teller and the audience share. This connection creates empathy and opens people’s hearts, hence appealing to their human spirit and enhancing commitment to taking action.

Do you think of any other key success factor?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

The seven stages of a story

In adding depth to the story plot, according to the master storyteller Joe Lambert, there may be distinguished seven stages through which the story flows:

  • The story begins describing the ordinary life of the characters, enjoying stability and peace. The images and sensations of this stage are to be kept in the main character’s mind as references of the expected rejoice upon restoring balance at the end of the story.
  • All of a sudden the antagonist appears and the challenge turns the story into an action driven sequence of struggles that puts the audience in a suspense mood until the end of the story. The main character decides to take action to tackle the challenge.
  • Sometimes, there is a moment when the main character stops to consider if the decision made is the most appropriate. Surrendering or taking an easier way may lead to living the rest of his or her life sacrificing the set of their own values for a set of untested and probably undesirable ones.
  • When the main character decides to keep on struggling challenging the limits of his or her capacities and suffering in the darkness and loneliness. But soon after, the main character starts to succeed and gains a sense of new power and a new way of seeing the life going forward. This is a moment of change, as the character is redefining his identity.
  • The main character starts developing a new identity, driven by a mission. As a result of survival and resiliency, the new hero is able to guide others in their way to healing and self-improvement towards a better version of themselves.
  • Despite the emergence of the hero with renewed strength, the antagonist strikes back to challenge the hero’s weaknesses again as a test to raise his awareness about his vulnerability and need for humility despite the significant improvements achieved.
  • At the end of the journey the hero comes back home as a model of resilience and success. The story of struggles has nurtured the hero and his community with renewed knowledge, confidence and hope in the chances of overcoming future challenges.

Would you consider adding any other stage?