For as long as there has been human life on earth, we’ve been telling stories.
And while the stories we share have changed quite a bit since then (I haven’t run from a dinosaur in quite some time), we’re still using them for three key reasons:
To engage, and
To emotionally connect with others.
In marketing, we are exceptionally eager to share stories because that is how authentic connections and loyal customers are made.
We’re pummeled with content in this digital age. Attention spans are shrinking.
Information overload. Data smog. Intoxification.
Every word needs to count because putting words on a page to check the box won’t cut it. Customers cut through it like a hot knife in butter.
Businesses are drowned out by others who understand the power of connecting, educating, and engaging their customers.
But how do we cut through the noise? How do we make people pay attention? Make people care?
We get back to the basics: sharpening your storytelling skills.
Why is Storytelling Important in Marketing?
Storytelling is the golden child of inbound marketing. It draws people in, educates them on your service/offer, and builds an emotional connection with your audience.
Customer loyalty abounds with this trifecta when it’s done right.
If that wasn’t convincing enough, here are a few reasons why storytelling is important in marketing:
Emotional appeal: Storytelling is the lifeline to making people care. Great stories have the ability to evoke emotions and create a deeper connection with the audience.
Think about a time you encountered a problem, and took to the internet for a solution. The brand that wins your business is one that lays out your exact problem in a way that feels as though they’re speaking right to you, is empathetic to your situation, and the solution is mere clicks away.
Creates a human connection: Stories can help to humanize a brand and make it more relatable. This can help to build trust and credibility with the audience. I recently saw a billboard advertisement for the Boys to Men Mentoring Network here in San Diego that said “Reliable connections. No internet required.”
If I wasn’t on the I5 in top to tail traffic, it would have stopped me dead in my tracks. It’s so clever. It builds connection, a sense of trustworthiness, and gives you an insight into what their purpose is. It made me care.
Better retention: Emotionally charged stories are more memorable and can leave a lasting impression on the audience. People are more likely to remember information when it is presented in a story format, as opposed to a list of facts and figures.
Differentiates the brand: A well-crafted story can help to differentiate a brand from its competitors and make it stand out in a crowded market.
Case in point: SPANX. Those of us who have ever struggled to find the right unmentionables for white pants completely understand this story. We’ve lived it. We know the struggle.
SPANX founder Sara Blakely created a solution we all knew we needed. The copy is clever and feels as though a friend is giving you a recommendation. SPANX has more of my money than I care to admit.
Tells the brand's story: Stories can be used to communicate the brand's values, mission, and history. This can help to establish a brand's identity and create a stronger connection with the audience.
As you can see, storytelling is a powerful tool in marketing because it allows brands to connect with their audience on a deeper level and create a more memorable and impactful experience.
Now that we’ve covered the why, let's dig into the how.
To be a successful storyteller in marketing, there are certain skills that are essential:
Understanding the audience: Understanding the target audience is key to crafting a story that resonates with them and meets their needs. Marketers should know what their audience wants and what kind of stories will resonate with them.
Empathy: Being able to see things from the audience's perspective and understand their experiences and emotions is essential to creating a compelling story. (Hello, SPANX).
Creativity: Storytellers need to be able to think outside the box and come up with unique and imaginative stories that will engage the audience.
Oftentimes, you’ll find great content ideas and stories to build on directly from your target audience. Immerse yourself in spaces they exist in (think Facebook groups or other social media channels for example) to hear the language they use and learn about their unaddressed concerns.
Good writing skills: Writing is a key component of storytelling, and marketers should be able to write clear, concise, compelling stories. They should also be able to use language effectively to evoke emotions and create a memorable experience.
Visual storytelling skills: In addition to written stories, marketers may also need to create visual stories, such as videos or infographics, to effectively engage their audience. They should have a good understanding of visual storytelling techniques and be able to use them effectively.
Strategic thinking: Storytellers need to be able to think strategically about how the story supports the overall marketing goals and objectives. They should be able to align the story with the brand's message and values.
Story structure: A good story has a clear structure, with a beginning, middle, and end. Marketers should be able to apply this structure to their stories to create a compelling narrative. Take 20 minutes and listen to Andrew Stanton give his TED Talk on The Clues to a Great Story. It’s well worth your time.
The moral of this story is to make. people. care.
Get their attention. Give them what they want and what they don’t yet know they need. Build their trust in you so it is clear that your brand, service, and/or offer can solve whatever problem they may have.
Effective storytelling can get you there.
Not sure how to get your story across? At Hire a Writer, we have a team of expert storytellers ready to help. Contact us today.