Leicester City – the power of storytelling

Monday 11th April 2016   by Andy Comber

The strong possibility that Leicester City will win the English Premier League title is one of the biggest stories in world sport.

Around the globe, journalists and sports fans are marvelling at the team’s achievements.

The furore around their success is also a lesson in the power of storytelling – and how people and organisations can gain much more recognition if they can tell stories about their achievments.

This hit home for me reading an article about the interest the club has generated around the world in the Sunday Times sports pages yesterday.

Power of storytelling Leicester City

As the Sunday Times reported, people respond positively to good stories!

Dan Masonson, vice president for communications at NBC Sports in USA, was quoted saying: “Having compelling games and great stories is what draws people in. That’s what Leicester provides.”

Okay, Leicester City’s rise is so extraordinary, that there is no real problem finding a story.

From last year’s near relegation failures to this year’s near champions successes.  The lower league also-ran running rings around his opponents, James Vardy. The reject becoming a giant rock, Robert Huth. The goalkeeping son, emulating his more famous father. The rebirth of the ‘Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri. The previous manager who built the team, sacked in the summer, and watching them beat all-comers. The Thai club owner buying lunch for all travellling fans. The team of minnows thrashing Europe’s greats. It goes on and on.

Everyday business life is much more mundane. But there are still business storytelling lessons to learn. Here are just three of them:

1. People process information in stories. When you pitch at a sales meeting you tell a story. When you want to influence people you try to convince them with the story. So, how can you talk about your business activity in stories?

2. People are impressed by other people. Who in your team goes above and beyond, with Premier League winning service? Who are the people in your organisation who would make great subjects for stories about your service?

3. People are moved by stories they can relate to. So, how can you define what you do in a way that, as Dan Masonson says, is compelling? The key, I believe, is to start to define your activities and acheivements from your customers’ point of view.

For Leicester City, the fairy tale that might come true – and the stories it is generating – could have a positive impact on the club for decades to come. More fans world-wide, more revenue, more success. It’s by no means certain. The club could be relegated next season. But it could happen.

In business, the good thing is that effective storytelling can have more predictable results. More engaged customers. A better defined brand. A more motivated workforce. A more clearly-defined marketing strategy.

In my view, that’s well worth the price of the season ticket.