What comes to mind when you hear the word “story”? Maybe you think of epic tales of adventure, simple children’s narratives, or fables passed down by through the generations. But really, most of the stories we experience are a bit more…ordinary. Every day, we think about our world in stories. We perceive the world around us in a certain way, shape narratives about what happened and why, create arcs and craft resolutions.
Have you ever talked to someone about a shared experience, to realize you had a completely different take on what happened? These differences come down to how we interpret and explain the world around us. You both experienced the exact same thing; what’s different is the story you are telling.
So what does this have to do with marketing?
When we think about stories, our minds may jump to epic tales, finely spun novels, or books from our childhood. But when thinking about using stories in marketing, it’s less about telling your own grand story, and more about the stories your audience lives every day. It’s about the small “micro-stories” your audience experiences, and finding ways to connect to those and provide solutions.
Let’s say you are the developer of an app that helps people navigate the complicated health care system. Your audience is pretty much anyone over the age of 25 who is enrolling in healthcare. What are some of the stories your audience might be telling themselves?
This is all so complicated — I don’t understand all this jargon and have no idea how to find a plan that works for me.
What if I get really sick? Will I be covered?
I get how healthcare works, but don’t really know how to navigate this new system.
The root of these stories is fear, insecurity, and confusion. So how can you cater your marketing to relate to these stories? By being the answer – you want to affirm their concerns, while gently explaining how your product can help them. You want to be calm, confident, and exude security. You want your audience to know that you’ve got them covered.
While this may not be a grand saga, it is an emotional narrative which people will relate to and see themselves in.
You are a sports and outdoor equipment outfitter. Your audience is men and women aged 20-60. What micro-stories might they be telling themselves?
I’m stuck in a day to day routine without adventure! I wish I could explore the world.
I’d love to get in better shape but am too busy to work out.
I’m a thrill-seeker always looking for my next big journey, but what should I do next?
These stories are born from boredom, stagnancy, and searching. How can you create story-based marketing that gets at the heart of these narratives? Instill a sense of adventure in your marketing collateral, while also providing convenient pathways to get your audience to act. You want to present exciting, inspirational scenes while communicating how accessible this is for your audience.
So when thinking about implementing story-based marketing, we encourage you to think small. What are the little tales being spun in the minds of your potential customers that you could be the resolution to? Write a list of those micro-stories, and start there.
For many of us, stories are inextricably linked with the written word. However, a strong visual conveying the emotion you want to invoke is much more powerful than text. Good photography, design, and video can go such a long way in driving connection and providing solutions.