What is so wonderful and engaging about stories?
It’s simply the fact that they make you think; by provoking their imagination, they transport you to a faraway land where you can live and breathe as the characters of stories.
Isn’t that just exciting? That personal connection with the characters of stories and the feeling that everything is possible?
In all honesty, there’s no reason for you to not include this art of storytelling in your marketing techniques. After all, marketing is all about connecting with the user and giving as personalized an experience as possible.
As we continue to thrive in the digital age, the one thing that is missing from our lives is that very warmth of a personal, human connection. And this is exactly what the modern consumer is seeking from brands — something more than just a product or service, something to which they can relate to and use to connect with your brand. What better than a compelling story that can stir the emotions of your customers and make them crave to be a part of your brand’s story?
No, this is not a concept that was just born yesterday. Marketing Giants like Apple, Nike, and Burt’s Bees have been using the power of stories since time immemorial (now you know the secret of their huge fan following!).
Storytelling marketing is nothing but a way of attracting your potential customers by creating unique and memorable stories that showcase the core values of your brand. Through stories that can tug the emotions of customers, you can constantly remind them what your brand stands for and why they should keep coming back for more.
Let’s take a look at Apple. The brand is not only known for its pioneering products but also by its captivating stories. Remember the first iPhone launch? How iconic it was? When Steve Jobs addressed the audience and said,
“Thank you for coming. We’re gonna make some history together today.”
That’s how he began his story and went on to talk to the world about the revolutionary iPhone. But he didn’t start with the product right away. He recalled the story of Apple and its journey through the years. Now, everyone knows how great Apple products are but it was the storytelling of Jobs that caught the attention of the people and made them want to be a part of the iconic brand, even if it was only for those few minutes. The long-standing positioning of Apple as a brand that appeals the people to “Think Different” was adopted with this commercial.
Now, let’s see what Burt’s Bees did. Ever since the brand’s inception in 1984, its core focus has been only one thing — to create completely natural products for its customers without harming the environment. And how did it become a recognized brand that sold for a whopping $925 million from a simple craft fair venture?
By sharing its innate philosophy with the customers through storytelling. Burt’s Bees has always been upfront about its environmental work and it makes sure that their customers get to witness this. The company always shares various educational videos about its environmental work, the work its team does, customer stories, and even allows you to take a peek into the simple life of the founder — Burt — through virtual tour videos of his home. Not just that, Burt’s Bees also creates engaging campaigns such as #BringBacktheBees and #selflessselfie, the returns of which were dedicated to donating almost 10,000 acres of wildflowers to sustain bees.
Following a similar approach, Airbnb has also become a master storyteller. The brand focuses entirely on its customers and hosts. By showcasing customers stories and host stories, they show how easy it is to connect with people and how you are never away from home with Airbnb. These stories allow potential customers to see what it’s like to live in an Airbnb home, while also answering some of the common questions like “What will my hosts be like”’ or “How does the accommodation look like?”, and so on.
If such big brands swear by storytelling marketing, they must be doing something right, right? Of course, they are! By telling stories about your brand, about your work, and about your customers, you are allowing them to engage with you in a deeper and more personal level.
How to tell a good story?
Just as to create a good recipe, you need to have all the necessary ingredients at your fingertips, so to be able to tell a great story, you need to have all the essentials that will make a story great.
Let’s check out the essential ingredients of storytelling marketing for your brand!
1. Identifying your target audience
To tell a good story, you first need to think about your audience. Without identifying your target audience, how will you create a story that they can relate to?
Often brands make the mistake of trying to reach a vast audience with the same message. That simply doesn’t work. Identifying and categorizing your target audience into proper segments allows you to develop appropriate content for each segment. Although you may have to put in more resources and effort into creating target specific content, but believe us, the results will be worth it!
2. Create stories that relate to customer needs
While it’s great to promote your brand and products/services through stories, the brand must never be your primary goal. Your primary goal is the customer.
When you identify the various target customer segments, you know exactly what the pain points, needs, and preferences of each of those customer segments. Now, it’s time to channel those pain points and needs of your customers into your brand stories. This way your target audience will know that you are listening and that you care.
If your primary goal is to build customer relationships and extend your customer loyalty base, you may want to keep your brand and products on at the background of those stories and make customers the prime focus. According to Marcia Riefer Johnston, Managing Editor of Content Marketing Institute: “If products hog the spotlight, you’re missing opportunities to build customer relationships and, ultimately, revenue.”
3. Think: what is your goal?
Your storytelling depends on your end goal too. For instance, do you want to build valuable customer relationships? Or do you want to create brand awareness? Or do you want to bring in greater revenues?
Whatever your goal, it will have a significant bearing on your storytelling. You have to create your stories keeping your end goal in mind. You have to think specifically about the ‘impact’ you wish to make on your target audience. The moment you are able to do these, the perfect story will start unravelling before your eyes.
4. What product/service do you wish to promote?
We’ve mentioned it before, and we’re stating it again — the customer should be your focus. So, how do you promote your product without making your story product-centric?
You must have heard of Land Rover. The car company has set an excellent example of storytelling marketing. How? By focusing on the people behind the wheels. With the car always taking the background, Land Rover showcases stories about individuals, couples, and families taking road trips or embarking on adventurous journeys with their cars.
See what Land Rover did there? While it gave the prime spotlight to its customers, it always had the cars in the background showing how you too can make memorable journeys with a Land Rover.
That’s some good marketing!
Just like this, you can take the product wish to promote and instead of promoting it head-on, you can promote the stories of ‘experience’ around it.
So, there’s some inspiration for you! Your brand’s story already exists, you just have to realize it. And once you do, there’s no waiting. Become a storyteller and use it to your advantage. Create such stories that make a mark on the minds of people.
Now that we’ve handed over the secrets of good storytelling to you, it’s time to get cracking folks!