People love stories. Whether they are curled up with a good book, captivated in a movie theater, or catching up with an old friend, people are drawn to story-driven experiences. Who doesn’t love been swept up in an exciting/thought-provoking/heart-wrenching tale?
Think about the last dinner party you attended. Who was the person lighting up the room, holding people’s attention? Whoever you are imagining, chances are they were the best storyteller in attendance. Storytellers are fun, emotionally intelligent people who are easy to connect with. Other people enjoy being around them and hearing what they have to say.
Smart companies and organizations are learning to leverage the draw of storytelling in their marketing by finding ways to incorporate stories into their branding and marketing materials. Think about the ads during the Super Bowl. Rarely anymore do you see a commercial that is simply selling the qualities of the product. More and more, we see ads that tell a story, even if the story only has a tangential relationship to the product.
Tell Your Story
If you are growing or pivoting your marketing strategy, stories are a great place to start. But what story should you tell? The answer is going to vary depending on your business, product, and objective. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- What is your brand voice? If your company was a person, what would they be like? List some qualities. For example, Next Day Animations is: helpful, playful, smart.
- Do you have an origin story? This is great for small businesses — people love to know more about the companies they are buying from. Telling the story of your business helps make you look more human.
- What is the story of a typical customer? What do they go through on a daily basis, and what problem do they have that might lead them to your company? What is their worldview, and what kind of lifestyle do they hope for? Frame your story from the perspective of the customer, and use their pain-points and aspirations as guides.
- What is unique about your product or service? What sets you apart, and why does that matter to your audience? Sometimes telling the story of your product can be compelling, such as where your materials come from or how your product is made.
- How do you want your audience to feel? Having some emotional reference points can help you craft your story. Keep in mind that high arousal emotions (like anger and awe) more often lead to action, where low arousal emotions (like sadness and contentedness) more often lead to inaction, even if the person was moved by the story.
Know Your Format
Once you have an idea of the narrative you’ll be using, it’s time to think about your format. Different ways of storytelling in marketing have different strengths and setbacks. Writing a compelling blog post is very different from creating a video, which is different from crafting a clever social media campaign. You’ll also need to keep in mind the user experience of different formats. Writing a story for twitter? Remember your character limit, and how to keep your story telling cohesive. Creating ads for facebook? The new carousel format is a great opportunity for visual storytelling. Know your format, and get creative.
Make it Visual
In additional to writing clever copy, you will need visuals to tell your story. With so much media competing for your audience’s attention, text-only pieces of marketing won’t cut it. Additionally, video is proven to be more effective than static images. Video is a great way to bring your story to life and vastly increases the reach and shareability of your message, and animations in particular are a cost-effective and fun way to get your story out there.
So get out your pen and paper — or whiteboard and marker 😉 — and get to work brainstorming! It’s never too late to fit story-based marketing into your strategy.