Skip to main content

In the process of innovating through complex challenges, effective communication plays a crucial role in shaping the value of new developments. Most companies follow the established central route of communication, focusing on instrumental qualities and constructive benefits of their innovation. There is no doubt that without effective formulation and expression of these factual components, it is impossible to inform and attract the right audience, from potential clients to future investors. Accompanied with the most impressive design of the presentation, best graphics, and speeches, this seems to look like an ideal communication approach. If this seems so straightforward to use, why do more than 80% of innovations vanish at the stage of being a pitch deck [1]?  

They forget to tell the story. As simple as the storytelling sounds, a number of fascinating features arranged in a presentation is not a story that gets sold. Let’s dive into the journey from pitch deck to successful scaling innovation solution. Storytelling can go far beyond conveying the essence of your innovation, it makes sure the solution excites the imagination of your audience and transport it into the world you construct. This world can become a reality, where your innovation becomes a value that people can feel and understand.  Transporting your audience into your story creates an ideal opportunity to sell innovative concepts. A transported audience has a different cognitive reaction to the new and unknown information, specifically, it becomes less critical and less likely to mistrust your innovation [2].

This effect of transportation becomes possible because stories are processed differently in people’s brains than usual persuasive messages [3]. The likelihood and strength of transportation depend on the extent to which the identification with characters in the story occurs. Identification happens best when the character is very similar or familiar to the intended audience or when the story can evoke empathy [4]. Therefore, the first and central step to efficient storytelling is to choose the main character, which can be the company, the representative of the target audience, or a potential customer, whose problems can be solved with your innovation. Particularly, customer narratives not only enable to improve the effect of transportation with an identifiable main character but also demonstrate a clear customer journey with every touchpoint of the value created.  

The next element of a complete story is to develop the context for the main character, how it all began, and how it came to today. It is important to fill the story with realistic and understandable details, making it closer and more understandable to the audience. A well-written run-up helps the audience see the full picture of the created value where small components complement each other, forming clear and logical chains.  

The next stage is a colorful description of the current situation, with all the difficulties and problems. It is important not to be afraid to admit your difficulties but to shift the focus on how these difficulties will be solved with your developments. The difficulty or problem should be familiar to the target audience, boosting the level of compassion, thereby increasing the likelihood of complete transportation into the reality you create. Your solution to the problem should be the climax of your story build-up, it is the point where your audience should feel excited and relieved that the problem they felt and recognized, can now be solved.  

From reaching the climax the story can move into the inspiring sketch of a new reality, where you clearly demonstrate how it will be possible to bring your innovation to the market and what is the positive effect for the intended audience, as well as for the society. It is crucial to make this denouement full and enriched with evidence, the audience should be left with no doubt that your innovation is the key to a new, and better reality. This is the point where attributes of instrumental persuasion become essential. Clear and strong arguments supported by evidence in a complete story can extend the effect of your message, where information will be processed via a central route and therefore is more likely to be remembered and lead to the intended attitude change [5]

The level of story transportation is also dependent on the form that you give to your narrative. When positioning a radical or disruptive innovation, some companies intend to impress their target audience with new premises, complex words, and confusing terms. They want to show they are more advanced than their competition, more complex, and truly exceptional. In successful storytelling, the key is to be coherent, becoming a smooth facilitator of the value that you are proposing. Therefore, do not overcomplicate your narration, on the contrary, it is worth helping your audience to easily understand what is the value for him/her personally. Be clear and do not be afraid to play with those attributes that can showcase your idea, your service, your product. Bring the demo versions, and parts of the hardware, and make live and clickable prototypes and presentations. Here your goal is to make your story truly come alive, stimulate the imagination, and immerse the audience in your reality. By bringing these little details from your stories to life, you will help your audience feel the value of your innovation. 

The last part of your story journey is the call for action-activation of your audience. The specific action depends on the audience and your aimed end result. For potential customers, do you want them to make a purchase, order a service, like a video, repost a message, or subscribe to your social media? Make sure that the level of action you call for is adequate to the story you have told, your audience should feel like they are able to perform the action. If your audience was indeed transported into your story successfully, their level of self-efficacy can increase, and therefore they are much more likely to act in line with your story [3].

Never underestimate the value that arises in the process of building a story, nor your ability to develop stories that get sold. It seems there is nothing more challenging than to enlighten the market with new, radical, and fulfilling innovation. Yes, definitely not easy, but what can be even more demanding on young companies and startups is to determine and efficiently articulate the value of their innovation? Most often, it is the point where companies lose sight of the existing opportunities that can make up their story. Therefore, storytelling is not only about creating a unique story about a new disruption in the market, storytelling can be an integral way of thinking.

Storytelling as an approach is about effectively tracking and combining existing opportunities into one clear narrative that captivates attention, evokes empathy and imagination, and transports your audience into the reality of your innovation. Standing alone, many technological inventions and discoveries find it difficult to comprehend, and hence, position their value. A true storytelling professional is able to find and identify this existing opportunity and match it with the customers’ needs, thereby creating value in the specific market. For storytelling, you need to be always on alert and attentive to the needs of the market and gaps in the customer journeys, as well as to be aware of all the new changes and innovations in this market. By creating a story using storytelling as a thinking approach, you can not only create new value for innovation but also stimulate further development in the market.   

A lot has been written and said about storytelling, as definitely not a new tool for positioning and promotion. Compared to other tools, it indeed allows you to build a deeper connection with the audience and immerse it into your reality. But in Grasp | digital we see storytelling as something more than a communication tool to position and sell innovative concepts.  It is our inner way of thinking, our approach to solving current problems, and our mindset to filling in the existing gaps in the user stories, as well as creating new opportunities for the future. Our experience shows that the most unexpected encounters, people, and ideas can bring new value to the approach in which you tell your story. The only question is whether to wait for these opportunities or seek them actively and start to create them yourself, today. We have an answer. What about you? 

[1] Hengsberger, A. (2018, April 27). Lead Innovation Blog. Retrieved from Lead Innovation Management:

[2] van den Putte, & Dhondt, G. (2005). Developing Successful Communication Strategies: A Test of an Integrated Framework for Effective Communication. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35(11), 2399–2420.

[3] Peelen, E., Jacobs, H., & van Oers A. (2019). Scaling up content marketing. Forty7.

 [4] Hoeken, H., Kolthoff, M., & Sanders, J. (2016). Story Perspective and Character Similarity as Drivers of Identification and Narrative Persuasion. Human Communication Research, 42(2), 292–311.

[5] Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. (1984). The Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion. Advances in Consumer Research, 11, 673–.

Leave a Reply