What does it mean to be a ‘Storyteller’?

In a recent blog, Gregor told you about the tough decisions Story Shop’s had to navigate since it launched. Deciding to hire me (Lara) was one of them.

Now that I’ve been around for a few months, I wanted to give you a little insight into what it’s like to work for a small agency like Story Shop and what it actually means to be a “Storyteller.” A Storyteller is someone who, well, tells stories. But how does that fit into marketing?

Storytelling is a huge part of marketing, and we all do it, even if our job title isn’t Storyteller (which mine is). Marketers use narratives every day to communicate brand messages. Think of the box of cereal on your kitchen table this morning. I bet there was a story hidden somewhere on it. Or maybe it wasn’t hidden at all – some of us have been following the tale of either three gnomes, a monkey or a tiger since before we could read.  

At Story Shop, we’ve not yet created a mascot for our client or launched a cereal, (yet), but we do find and create brand stories that we hope will be around for a very long time. Just as you buy from brands that you know and trust, we work with the ones we believe in and think have a story worth telling.

Before working at Story Shop, I was working at a London-based creative content agency, Not Actual Size. My experience there taught me a lot about the importance of creating content that’s relevant. But finding a balance between being relevant and standing out can be difficult. Often, a brand has a fantastic story to tell, but they don’t know how to tell it or where to start. As Donald Miller puts it in Building a Story Brand, “people behind a brand can’t read the label when they find themselves stuck inside the bottle.” That’s where Storytellers come in.

Whatever we’re up to, whether it’s coming up with a snappy Instagram caption, designing images for a Facebook ad or creating a wider communications strategy, we have two primary roles.

  1. We have to develop the strategy for our story – that means we have to truly understand what our client really wants, their mission and the steps that will help them achieve it. This all starts with questions, lots of questions, like what’s your key message? What calls to action resonate with your customer? Who even is your customer? What makes you stand out from the rest?
  2. We have to make sure the stuff we make is creative and impactful. That means telling stories which get picked up by the media, blog posts people actually read, newsletters which people will open, social media posts which stop people scrolling and all those other modern miracles.

All of this takes time

To deliver on part one, we need to take the time with the client to truly understand their business and their customers. We like to get to know the people we work with and get just as excited about their businesses as they are – that’s the easy part. 

For part two, we have to do something that’s often harder to do than it sounds. Step away from our emails, close our laptops and begin to bounce ideas off each other. We don’t just put the bottle in the middle of the table. We bring our own ideas, shaped by our different influences and backgrounds.  

I could follow all the marketing techniques I was taught at university, follow every agency on LinkedIn and continue to read weekly marketing newsletters all I like, but without allowing space for creativity, I wouldn’t be a Storyteller. I’d just be a teller. A noisemaker.

So, you probably get the point, but what have we actually got to say for ourselves at Story Shop? What makes us different? Aren’t we just another one of those agencies that think it’s cool to wear trainers to work and drink kombucha?

Well, yes, but we do other stuff too. In fact, if anyone’s keeping score, here are just a few of the amazing things we’ve done so far since I started Story Shop.

  • Helped take Glasgow Coffee Festival to the streets
  • Launched a new, all-day eatery in Glasgow’s Merchant City
  • Completely redesigned an office space (we didn’t even have one when I started)
  • Hired two more members of the team (there are now five of us!)
  • Began a campaign to make HOKO the UK’s go-to residential architect (we love being an extension of their team)
  • Secured over 200 news articles for the entrepreneurs, charities and brands who choose to work with us across the media, including front pages in the Metro and the Herald and piece in the New York Post
  • Lasted a whole day in the office without going to Us V Them for a caffeine refuel

I’m not a writer, I’m just here for the free oat milk flat whites. But we all do a bit of everything at Story Shop, so I hope you enjoyed my first blog.

If you have any questions or want to hear more about the great things we’re doing, send us an email on hello@wearestoryshop.com

Join the list

See the work we do, how we do it and what inspires us.