I’ll let you into a secret.
I’ve been away.
A glorious week at Disneyland Paris, at a fabulous hotel, eating wonderful food and walking eight miles a day.
And spending hours at a time standing in line to go on a ride that took no time at all.
I loved every minute of it. It was like being enveloped in a big, pink, commercial fantasyland where little children were allowed to be princesses and grown-ass humans could wander around wearing Mickey ears without being judged.
I would go back in a heartbeat if I could.
But I can’t, so until next time I’ll just have to knuckle down to real life.
It wasn’t all play though. I never manage to switch off for long, and I came away with some business-type thoughts. I even had an epiphany at 37,000 feet (as well as the whole plane hearing police sirens from below as we entered French airspace … that was weird).
Now we all love a fairytale (you do, don’t you?), but my trip away left me with questions:
There’s just one answer, people.
It’s the story.
And the feeling of inclusivity (ok that’s two answers).
The reason that Disney is such a huge success is that people love a story, and they love to feel part of something. We’re hard-wired to love a story. It’s one of the most powerful forms of communication, can break down barriers and makes people feel included. Stories encourage empathy, can help people feel less alone and can move people in ways other forms of communication can’t.
We love places like Disneyland because we become immersed in the fantasy, and it allows us to revert to childhood for a little while. We step inside the story and leave our troubles at the entrance gates. We know it’s totally fake, but that’s ok. We’re living in a fairytale while we’re there and it helps us cope with the adulting once we leave.
We stand in line for an hour to go on that ride because while we stand we’re surrounded by the story of the ride. We stand with other people, make contact and occasionally make friends for a little while. We expand our community for that hour.
We spend all our money in the brightly coloured shops, full of brightly coloured toys, clothes and homeware because we’re buying into the dream. We’re a knowingly captive audience who want to extend our experience through into our real lives when we go home.
We suspend disbelief and wear the merchandise because we want to, and the herd mentality wants us all to follow the crowd. Of course there’s also the fact that we want the children around us to believe in the magic for as long as possible … any adult who doesn’t play along is in danger of ruining the dream for everyone else.
So what has this got to do with my business and your business?
Well, it shows that storytellers can help create engagement (yes, storytellers like me!).
By including narrative in your business website and material you can engage your customers more. Let people in, let them know about you and your business. Everyone loves a story and stories can make you more real. Help people see the real you.
If you don’t believe me check out this article from the Harvard Business Review.
We don’t all need to go full Disney, but the Disneyland parks are a fabulous example of how storytelling can create an environment that engages customers.
And stories sell.
If you need help creating your story contact me and we can create a narrative that’ll help engage your clients.
Now I’m home I’m missing my life beneath that pink fairytale castle. It was a warm, happy, inclusive place where pirates mingled with princesses and fluffy seven-foot-tall teddy bears. And where we rode rollercoasters before an omelette burger breakfast and took a trip with StarTours every day.
But it’s time to get back to reality. And when I’m not helping my clients create their own stories I’ll be helping to create a fairytale pantomime at our local theatre for the next three months. I suppose stories are in my blood.
What’s your story?