Harnessing the Power of Storytelling

Storytelling by Campfire

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, (though, we have to note this has never been substantiated as a quote from him) this is known as the six-world novel. It speaks not only to the importance of brevity, but to something humans have practiced for thousands of years: storytelling.

In so few words, this “novel” leaves much to be imagined, many questions left unanswered, and plenty of room to read between the lines. It’s a captivating set of words because they have you immediately “hooked” and make you wonder things like: why weren’t the shoes ever worn? What happened to the baby? Why are they for sale? It’s incredible that in just six words, an entire story has the potential to unfold.

So, why are stories so important?

Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps companies clarify their messages says, “If you want people to understand and identify with a complicated concept, tell a story about it. This creates a ‘clicking experience’ in a person’s brain, allowing them to suddenly understand what someone else is trying to communicate. As such, if you can tell a good story, you’ll create stronger, faster, connection with your audience.”

Technology has changed the way we live our lives, but it has not changed our love affair with a good story. In fact, it is has given us new platforms to communicate with one another when we cannot sit around the fire together like humans did all those years ago.


When it comes to brand experiences, events, and trade shows, story is everything. The story of your brand, why your offering matters, how it helps people, and how you are different are some of the key elements to your brand story. Establishing this story ensures your brand is consistent, and everyone in your company is on the same page about who you are and why your offering matters to help your customers.


Characters: It was Shakespeare who said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” This is who the story is about, with main characters and supporting actors. These are the brand ambassadors and employees working your booth, playing starring roles as greeters, or walking visitors through demos. Your audience, or visitors to the booth, are key players who arrive to hear your message and make a buying decision based on your delivery.

Setting: This is where the action takes place; a place you describe so well that the reader can image themselves there. For a trade show, this is the obviously the show floor aka the stage. It’s the environment that captivates those characters, taking them on a journey right there on the show floor. Architecture, design, technology, engagement—all those elements add to the scenery.

Conflict: Every story has a conflict or obstacle to overcome. How is the problem solved? What valuable lessons are learned along the way? In this case, it’s about your customer and what keeps them up at night. Identifying personas is a great way to get to the heart of what your audience needs, their problems, and how you can make strides toward solving them.

Resolution: This is the happy ending, the place where the journey concludes. The hero saves the day, riding off into the sunset and living to fight another day. In this case, your customer is the hero and you are the guide who worked to help them solve their problem, and achieve the success they desire. Just your classic win-win situation.

While you don’t have to follow this formula exactly, it’s a good framework to gaining clarity about who you are and the big idea you have to offer in the market. It helps you get to your WHY, the part of doing business that builds trust and will have everyone gathered around the fire to hear your story.


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