How to Use Storytelling in Marketing

What is Storytelling in Marketing and How Can You Use Storytelling Marketing for Your Brand

 

What is Storytelling Marketing?

Storytelling itself for ages has been an effective way to effectively pass on lessons or a purpose while also conveying the depth of the topic. Telling a story can involve a person’s perspective who is faced with a situation or simply an order of events. In any case the story is a mode of communication which gives the listener an opportunity to empathize with a specific experience.

When used in marketing, storytelling can form emotional and personal connections between a brand and a consumer. When done well, it can give brands a personality and face to help communicate values and why they do what they do. Experiencing a brand through storytelling can evoke emotion and lead to brand loyalty, which is increasingly harder to find.

Why is Storytelling Marketing effective?

Consider an example of two brands with similar products, price, and placement, but they use different promotion methods; one using traditional promotion methods and the other uses storytelling. For this example we will use something simple like bread from a bakery.

The first brand, using the traditional method, promotes based on product value. Their messaging may sound something in line with “We make our bread fresh every day, using the finest ingredients. Our artisan bread is free of chemicals and tastes better than any other brand. Don’t sacrifice on taste to have bread that is better for you. Stop in today for fresh bread for only $4.99 each.”

The second brand will use the storytelling method and share why they make bread. “Our mother believed sharing bread was the best way to connect with people. Nothing could replace the time and care that goes into making artisan bread. She would only use the finest ingredients and made bread daily so it was always fresh. Not only did she pass down her recipes, but she also passed down her love for baking. Now, we would like to share with you. Fresh, artisan bread; $4.99 each.”

 

marketing near detroit michigan

Which message do you find more appealing? Unless you are an extremely left-brained person, most people would gravitate towards the second brand. Even though more logical value was included in the first brand, the second brand connects on a deeper level and evokes emotion. It could be people recall spending time with a parent-figure and lessons that were passed down. Or maybe people think about the joy they get from activities and hobbies they are passionate about. Or perhaps they are just happy to see someone else pursuing their passion and want to take a small part of it.

No matter the reason, it connects with the listener on an emotional level with a shared human experience. Keep in mind, this is a short and simple story. Think of the effect a more impactful story could have.

video marketing content

How to use Storytelling in Marketing

Now that you know what we mean by storytelling and the effect it has on your audience, the next step is to harness it to accelerate your marketing message. Before you start creating stories, keep in mind that people will only connect to the message if it is authentic to the brand. People want authentic experiences, which is even more important in storytelling. For more about brand authenticity check out this article from our team.

Step 1: Know yourself

Think about why your brand does what it does. What are the values behind what you do. This is where the most powerful stories will come from. Organizations that use this “why” as the mission of the company will keep their purpose top of mind to help drive the company. In Simon Senek’s most popular book, “Start With Why”, (not a sponsor) this similar concept of cementing marketing message and operations around the organization’s purpose provides multiple benefits.

Sometimes the story you choose is the reason the company was founded or sometimes it is more about the people you serve. In the latter cases, try to think of this differently than a simple testimonial. Someone championing the product or services of your brand is great, but we need to go a few steps further and find what drives that person as a human. To do this, you will need the next step.

Step 2: Gather Stories

It may seem obvious, but this is a crucial step to storytelling. To find truly impactful stories you will need to actively look for them and document them. Waiting for a positive review on Google or quickly asking the sales team of recent wins just won’t cut it. This needs to be an ongoing search for really great stories. Keep in touch with the people that interact directly with customers and frequently ask if they had any recent impactful interactions.

As soon as an opportunity for a new story arises, try to get it documented, whether through text or video, as soon as possible. It may be a few weeks or months if you are trying to do multiple at the same time in a video interview format, but the closer it is to the experience your customer had, the stronger they will feel about the product or service. You don’t need to use the story right away, but you do need it documented in full so you can build up a “library” of stories to use.we

capture stories with video marketing

Step 3: Don’t Focus on The Product

It may seem counterintuitive, but good storytelling in marketing should not focus on the product or service. The classic stories of King Arthur don’t spend the majority of their time on explaining the features and benefits of Excalibur, but instead focus on how Arthur overcomes adversity and challenges. Excalibur is only a part of that.

Similarly your story should be focused on the protagonist, which in this case is your customer. If you are an orthodontist, your story shouldn’t be about how you offer the best treatment to make your smile better at fair prices. For true storytelling in marketing, share an authentic story of how one of your patients came to you after getting engaged, not sure if they would have time to fix their smile before their wedding day, and, with your help, their smile never looked better for their wedding.

 

For non-profit organizations, the difference is the brand needs to pull away from focusing on the number of people they help. Again, this seems counterintuitive, and for the more left-brained people it may be, but it will yield better results. Instead of sharing each data set of how many people you have helped and the number of people in need in your service area, pick one impactful story that speaks to your mission. If they are open to sharing that story, hearing about one person you helped, instead of the number of people you helped will go a lot farther.

 

Step 4: Craft Your Story for the Platform

Often in marketing, less is more. Your story needs to get the point across without taking up too much time. Based on the platforms where you will use this story, craft the message to be an appropriate length. When we are creating a story for marketing we’ll first try to capture the story in its entirety, then later segment out the most impactful parts while keeping the core concept and value. This process can give you multiple parts of the same story that can be used for A/B testing and reduces ad fatigue.

When doing this, keep in mind your audience and the attention span of your audience. A video on social media that is longer than two to three minutes likely won’t have the opportunity to create an impact. Likewise, if you are using static assets on social media such as text and images, the story will need to be even more succinct as people won’t read long paragraphs.

 

Step 5: Share Your Story

When sharing your story through various marketing channels, try to keep it conversational. To retain the story’s authenticity and purpose simply use the story itself as the message and avoid any additional promotional talk. Think of if you were telling your friend a moving story of how you found your new house, then halfway through you started saying “Rates as low as 6% APR. Call today to lock in your rate!”. Not just would your friend be highly concerned about your mental wellbeing, but they would likely also find the story to be less genuine and are more likely to disregard it.

The goal here is for people to want to share the story or at the very least find it a memorable human experience they were able to witness and relate to. Allowing a path for “more information” or to connect with you is fine if it is native to the platform, such as the link for the button on YouTube Ads or Meta Ads, but for something like programmatic display ads where it is just an image or video, you should not add “click here!” to the asset.

 

Step 6: Track Your Results

Just like all digital marketing efforts, track your results. See how engaged people are to each story and where your stories find the most interactions. Additionally, you should compare what kind of stories do better than others. Do certain issues or solutions resonate more with your audience? Does who is telling the story matter? What style and method of sharing the story is most effective?

Simply put, measure results so you can hone your craft. Storytelling isn’t one of those things you can just push a button and make work. It takes time and experimentation to see what works best for your brand and learn how to tell an impactful story.

 

We’re always excited to see brands utilize more storytelling in marketing. This tool for improving messaging and forming deeper connections with your audience is very effective. Just make sure your stories are authentic, focused on the customer, and presented in an impactful way.

Sign up for Digital Marketing Analysis

Marketing Objective: