Since the beginning of time, humans have connected over stories, which provide a means of entertainment and a method of teaching. While stories date back millennia, they have their place in modern society—and not least in business. When business leaders leverage the power of stories in their marketing strategies, results and loyal customers will follow.
Use the Science of Storytelling to Connect With Your Audience
There’s a reason why you can forget a person’s name but can recount your conversation with them line-by-line. It’s not because you’re rude or simply bad with names. It’s because your brain is wired to learn through stories, recognize patterns and retain information thanks to a neatly packaged narrative.
If a story is good, it doesn’t matter whether the brand is well known—the story will carry the message forward. This is great news for emerging brands and those with smaller marketing budgets. Plus, with more owned communications outlets and native marketing channels, brands can share their stories without relying on traditional gatekeepers.
Nativo, a content marketing platform I’ve worked with, has unlocked the potential of storytelling by focusing on more than just native ads. Instead, with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the company highlights the importance of creating authentic content and messages to meet consumers in the trusted environments where they’re already engaged. Meeting consumers where they’re at, with authentic and quality brand content, allows brands to tell stories that build genuine connection and drive bottom-line results.
Implementing the practice of creating powerful, relevant stories, creates the opportunity for lesser-known brands to rise to the top and compete against legacy brands.
Leverage Established Storytelling Principles to Tell Tales That Stick
Aristotle’s “Poetics” highlights the six elements of drama: plot, character, thought, diction, spectacle and song. These elements create the backbone of stories that your audience will connect with. But you don’t have to head back to school to become an expert storyteller.
Marketing leaders regularly reference what’s known as the “Pixar Pitch” when developing compelling, persuasive content to gain buy-in or shift understanding. Leveraging Pixar’s simplified approach to storytelling, marketers can create stories that draw audiences in and leave behind messages that stick.
Take your audience on a journey, starting with identifying the status quo, the inciting incident, and the actions that follow. Use your company’s origin story as a template for a compelling conversation. What may seem old hat to you may be a relevant, relatable story to your audience.
Consider the time-consuming, weekly task of grocery shopping. Instacart founders acted on a shared pain in an otherwise tech-friendly world and developed an affordable solution. Simply marketing the fee-based service as a handy convenience isn’t enough to bring the message to the top. However, telling the story of a family gaining treasured time together thanks to eliminated trips to the grocery store hits home. Focus on the result your business can deliver and craft stories that connect your customers’ pain points with your solution.
Swap the Corporate Armor for an Authentic Narrative That Resonates
Outdoor outfitter Patagonia does what many retailers will not. In their marketing messages, they regularly discourage customers from buying their clothes. Instead, they urge their customers to reuse and repair their Patagonia items, vividly demonstrating their commitment to sustainability. Over the years, the company has added used resale and exchange programs to further underscore their sustainability message. By living their values and integrating them into their customer experience, Patagonia has become one of the most well-loved outdoor retailers today.
Learn from Patagonia’s approach to authentic marketing, even if your product is less tangible. Focus on your company’s values, innovation and people to craft an authentic message that relates to your customers’ needs. If your researchers worked day and night to test your products’ effectiveness, share the story of their diligence. If your product helps customers live better, happier lives, use stories to tell how that happens. When you connect the “why” behind what you do and share it in an authentic story form, customers listen.
Cut Through the Noise With a Great Story
Stories put your customer’s experience in the forefront, enabling them to relate and connect with your offering. Whether you’re developing code to encrypt sensitive financial information or selling home essentials, you have a great story to tell. Dig into what makes your company, mission and values unique to craft compelling stories that rise above the competition. When you do, you’ll gain loyal customers and establish your standing as an industry leader.