It’s estimated that the average American sees anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day. Even if you work in marketing, you probably don’t always realize how much advertising content you’re consuming on a regular basis, and there’s a good reason for that — people have learned how to tune it out.
Because there is such an overwhelming amount of marketing content circulating online and in person, people have become somewhat numb to traditional ads. Whether it’s a 30-second clip in front of a YouTube video, a billboard, or a banner ad on a website, traditional ads don’t seem to be as effective as they once were.
That’s why storytelling has become such an impactful and important tool in the world of marketing.
Storytelling helps connect a consumer with a product or idea. It doesn’t just throw things at them, encouraging them to “buy now!” Rather, storytelling enables a business to make a more personal connection with each potential customer.
Storytelling is also a good thing for marketers. It makes it possible for you to stretch your creative wings and connect on different platforms. Let’s dig into what storytelling really is in the marketing industry, and how you can use it effectively.
What Is Storytelling?
Traditional advertising tends to lack one very important component — emotion. Of course, that’s not always the case. Think about some of the best commercials you’ve ever seen, or ones that seem like classics. Does Folgers’ coffee commercial come to mind, about a college grad surprising his family at Christmas? What about the classic grandmother and baby commercial, sharing a few Cheerios and talking about the importance of family.
People remember these campaigns because they were meaningful. They told a story in less than a minute that captured attention, tugged at the heartstrings, and had a happy ending.
Storytelling marketing is meant to make your audience feel something, with the idea that emotion will drive them to action. It’s a way to humanize your brand and make it more approachable for everyone. Take a cue from successful streaming services like Netflix and use storytelling to develop diversity and offer more representation while telling the world who you are and what you represent.
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One of the best things about this style of marketing is how easily it cuts through the noise and distractions of traditional advertising methods, causing your audience to pay attention to your message. As a result, they’re more likely to trust your business and brand.
This alternative marketing approach can be used on a variety of platforms, including:
- Social media
- Video marketing
It also doesn’t have to be confined to the written word. Well-conceptualized commercials, art pieces, and even music can add a storytelling element to your brand that makes people want to know more.
How to Start Your Story
Storytelling is about more than selling a specific product or service. That might be a temporary goal or campaign. But, you really want people to get to know your brand. When you’re able to remain consistent with your stories, you’ll gain a trusting, loyal audience that will stick with you.
If you’re not sure how to get started with brand storytelling, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Why does your brand exist?
- What’s your history?
- What’s your corporate mission?
- Have you failed in any areas? How?
- Where are your gaps?
- What are your goals?
Answering these questions will give you a good starting point for developing stories around your mission. How do you want to be viewed in your industry? Think beyond your goods and services — those will come later. Instead, serve your audience by giving them valuable content. Brand storytelling doesn’t mean boasting. It means giving consumers something meaningful that will help them connect with you.
Think about meeting a new person for the first time and wanting to form a relationship. You wouldn’t spend the entire time talking about how great you are. Rather, you would let your natural qualities shine through, listen to that person, and find the best humanistic qualities in each other to grow your bond.
Your storytelling marketing approach needs to do the same thing — on a bigger scale. Think about what your audience really wants, and bring your business down to that level to make it more personable and trustworthy.
How to Make the Most of Your Stories
There’s no question that we live in a digital world, and most marketers know content is king. That’s one reason why about 64% of marketers invest time in SEO. But, your content shouldn’t be limited to landing-page paragraphs and blogs.
Visual communication is becoming increasingly popular in the world of digital marketing. So much so, that 51% of marketers believe it provides the best ROI.
When you’re considering different ways to tell your story, whether it’s about your brand, a product, or service, think of the best platform for the job. Keep in mind that the human brain is hardwired for visual consumption. As much as 80% of the content you take in gets processed through your brain’s visual pathway. It takes less time to process that way and is often easier to understand. So, instead of sharing a story through written content alone, try a few of the following options:
- Livestream videos
- Scripted commercials
- Behind-the-scenes images
- Product images with data
Get creative with the types of images and video marketing you can utilize. For example, creating videos about products that are educational and informative will likely resonate better with your audience than providing them with written instructions. Using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook will also give you ample opportunities to share more visual content and experience real-time interaction with your audience.
It’s hard to go wrong when you take the storytelling approach to marketing. As long as you’re willing to be open (and somewhat vulnerable with your brand), consumers will see the human side of your business. They’re more likely to trust what you have to offer when they’re not inundated with tone-deaf advertisements.
If you haven’t put much time or effort into storytelling for your brand, it’s never too late to start. Try to implement some of these ideas and suggestions, and let your target audience in on what your brand is all about.