You may be wondering why we talk about the power of story so often; and what “unlocking storytelling superpowers” actually means; and exactly why storytelling in marketing is the best approach.
Few can deny the power of a good story, at the movies, over a drink in the pub, or at bedtime with a warm glass of milk; consuming stories is something we all do at every age, every day. Not every business understands the importance it holds for supercharging their bottom line.
Stories evoke powerful emotions, inspire change, teach us lessons and motivate action. Yet there are still many businesses who don’t understand how to capitalise the power of story marketing. But by the end of this blog post, you’ll understand why storytelling in marketing is crucial, and be ready to apply it to your own business communications…
photo credit: Digital Ralph
Why Storytelling In Marketing?
Storytelling isn’t just for movie directors, playwrights, and authors. There are lots of ways in which businesses can use the power of story to bring life to their brands.
In fact, according to business and communication experts (like Seth Godin), storytelling is the best way to approach your marketing in order for it to stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few reasons why…
It humanises your business
Businesses are soulless entities; they’re not people. However, if you tell stories about the people behind your business, you give it a soul and make it more relatable.
Take local Adelaide Hills-turned-international business, Beerenberg, for example. When I interviewed Marketing Director, Sally Paech, on the Be The Drop podcast, she talked a lot about how sharing the pictures and personal stories of staff have brought Beerenberg to life for their customers.
Putting the names of real people on their products, and telling the story behind that connection, gives customers a glimpse into the psyche of the people that help put those products on the shelves. Watch this video to see what I mean:
We helped create this video for Beerenberg! Contact us for help with your promo video.
It boosts your bottom line
At this point, you might still be thinking,
“Yeah well, stories don’t pay the bills.”
Well actually, they do. A good business narrative can sell your products and services, reach new customers, even turn them into promoters or evangelists.
Take Apple, for example.Their 1997 “Think Differently” ad uses clever visual storytelling of people who’ve achieved greatness, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mohammed Ali, paired with a monologue about celebrating misfits and change-makers.
Apple told us a story that effectively positioned their brand alongside those that challenge the status quo to change the world. In 1998, the company reported their first profitable year since 1995.
And today, many Apple have become almost evangelical brand ambassadors. When new products are released, product fans will line up for days outside Apple stores, just to be among the first to get the latest upgrade or accessory. Not only that, but last year, Apple made USD 215.639 billion in revenue. I rest my case.
It’s about people not products
To reiterate our first point about using staff stories to humanise a business, you can also use customer stories to sell your products or services. This is why storytelling in marketing is so genius.
Let’s look at the Deng Adut, University of Western Sydney example. A university is an education institution; it sells education. But the University of Western Sydney used storytelling to sell the idea that they makes dreams come true.
Telling a story about one of their students, who overcame some of the toughest adversity imaginable, they presented themselves as a place where anything is possible for the people that go there. The story is memorable, inspiring and the video on YouTube has been viewed nearly 3M times, creating huge exposure for the University of Western Sydney; something they would never have achieved through a standard “about our education programs” video.
It appeals to your target audience
Still wondering why storytelling in marketing is good for your business? Because powerful storytelling is about people not products, it’s infinitely more appealing to your target audience. Stories about people are just more interesting than stories about ‘stuff’.
As humans, we are hardwired to take an interest in ourselves; it’s a survival of the species thing. So clearly, we are more engaged in stories about people like us than tales about places or things. It’s only when we can relate places and things to the people that use them that we start to pay attention.
Think about the stories that appeal to you. What are they about and what is it that makes them interesting? (Tell us in the comments!)
It encourages dialogue and interaction
How did you feel after watching Deng Adut’s story? Did you have a reaction? Did you want to comment? Did you want to share the video with a friend?
Even if you didn’t, my bet is that you’re more likely to do those things after watching his story than if you had watched a video about an(other) Australian university course in law.
I mean, I’m sharing the video with you right now in this blog post. I’m asking your views on it; I want to have a conversation about it. Stories about people evoke emotions, which make us react. It’s our human nature.
It demonstrates how your business is unique
This is one of the most important reasons why storytelling in marketing should be every business owner’s priority. Every story is unique. They can be similar but they’re not likely to be the same. Products however, at least in the eye of the customer, can appear the same.
Why would I choose this jacket over that jacket? Well, this jacket tells me a story about the adventure I’m going to have while wearing it. That’s why I choose Rip Curl.
The same goes for services. Why should I choose this airline over that airline? Because this airline makes me feel nostalgic for home and reuniting with my loved ones. They tugged at my heartstrings; I’m moved and their story is memorable. That’s why I choose Qantas.
The twists and turns of a narrative are far more likely to paint a picture of how your brand or business is unique than a list of features. How the business came about, what drives it to do what it does, who the people are behind it, and the ways in which those stories are told are a combination of factors as unique to that business as my life story is to me.
Your story is as unique to your business as this dog’s markings!
It increases social engagement and search rankings
Business blogs are an ideal tool for telling stories. If your blog sits on your website, it boosts your SEO for messaging and search terms that support your brand values and sales objectives.
Plus, you have complete control over it, and it feeds your social media channels with content. And stories get far more engagement (and therefore reach) on social media than product information.
You don’t need to be a prolific writer to put a compelling story out there. You can also use visuals, graphics and video to tell your story. In fact, if you combine written with visual storytelling, you’re adopting a multi-layered approach that ticks more boxes than using one medium alone.
That’s why storytelling in marketing is essential for success
In a world saturated with marketing messages, how do you make your products or services stand out from the crowd? Your stories make you stand out from the crowd.
That’s just a few reasons why storytelling in marketing (and life) is essential. Can you think of some other reasons? Let us know in the comments.
Remember: It takes time to determine a strategic brand narrative that aligns with your business goals and to produce engaging content to tell that story. (We can help you with both of these things!) But it is the most engaging way to get your desired audience to take notice of what you have to say.
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