People have been using storytelling to communicate effectively for longer than there has been spoken language to do it through. It’s a memorable method that builds emotional ties with the audience, inspires imagination and – most importantly – communicates a message. For marketing strategies, that’s everything you’re looking for in one easy to use method. Or is it?
What makes a good story?
We’ve all heard stories that have captured our hearts and imaginations. Equally, we have listened to stories that have bored us to tears and left us never wanting to engage with that story (or the storyteller) ever again. The key for storytelling in marketing as a strategy is to ensure that the content being published meets the first criteria rather than the second.
With the rise in social media, sharing can produce surprising results for businesses. Ensuring your storytelling content is both compelling and share-worthy means that your customers are more likely to pass on your story for you. If it can pass the ‘why should I care’ test then you’re on to a winner. Don’t be afraid to post content that’s unusual, mainstream is just that and, as a result, rather predictable. Take a chance with the stories and content you post, surprise people, see where it takes you, we think you’ll be surprised.
That being said, the content you post still needs to be relevant to your customers’ interests. And not just the interests you think they’ll be searching for, regular reviews of your metrics can help you target your consumers’ needs much more specifically, incorporating that new content into your overall story.
One of the best examples of storytelling for marketing that really works is the John Lewis Christmas advert. It’s even become something eagerly awaited; people love it and hate it in equal measure, but they talk about it, share it and its message (for all that it rarely shows a true example of the number of products available in store) never fails to be communicated. Compared to other department store adverts that tend to show only products, the one with the narrative is the one you remember.
Storytelling in marketing 101 – How to tell your own story
Every good story involves drama and conflict, yes even the John Lewis advert. Your story should involve challenges overcome; connections between unlikely people; ways people can make a difference or just, simply, how something is created. Your story can be used to bring your customers together, as Coca Cola recently did with their Small World Machines which – incidentally – received almost 8,000 shares or likes and around 2 million video views. Incorporating technology into the story will only help spread the word.
Creating a story isn’t just about imparting a message, it’s also about building relationships and confidence with your customers. Selling an experience as well as a product. People want to be confident that what they’re buying is exactly what they’re looking for, so help them reach that decision not just with the stories you tell, but with the customer experience that will bring not only themselves back, but also their friends and family. It’s no good telling a story about how wonderful your product is for your customers if your customers don’t experience the same result. Be clear in your call to action, inspire your customers, and then give them a reason to help spread your stories for you.