Since people first scrawled pictures on the walls of caves, they've loved a great story.
In fact, our brains are hardwired to find patterns in data and infuse them with meaning. When we're not presented with a story, we'll go so far as to make one up ourselves using the data we're presented.
Marketers have long taken advantage of our love of stories, using photos and commercials to tell a tale that encourages buyers to purchase their product. Content marketing simply takes that method a little further, creating a continuous thread of short tales that contribute to the long-term Story of Your Brand.
How do you boost your brand with stellar storytelling? Read on for some tips to improve your yarn spinning, engaging and delighting prospects and customers alike.
The Power of Personality
A great story is fueled by the personality of the author. You're not going to engage the audience unless they're interested — not just in what you have to say, but how you say it.
If you've ever read a story and felt like you could actually hear the writer's voice in your head, you're responding to the writer's tone. Text that's overly technical, robotic, or resorting to a cliche will lose your audience's attention.
That said, it doesn't mean that your writing should be unprofessional. You can inject personality into your brand's story without making it inappropriate.
Take Wistia. They're a B2B video service provider, and their home page is full of personality that draws users in, but it never veers into unprofessional territory. Using fresh and interesting copy, Wistia shares how site visitors can utilize their service in different aspects of their work.
For example, "Wistia is the video platform for business. And dogs." They manage to make this simple statement about their service fun and whimsical as well as informative.
Honesty is the Best Policy
People respond to stories that ring of truth. Always anchor your storytelling in the reality of your product, brand, and industry.
Remember when nationwide pizza chain Domino's launched a campaign owning up to the general terribleness of their pizza? The new CMO, Russell Weiner, shared the poor feedback and tanking ratings with the nation and vowed to make the improvements necessary to pull the business out of its nosedive.
While that might sound insane — a company's highest executive talking about how bad the company's product tastes and how it's impacting their sales? — the gamble paid off. People responded to Weiner's blunt honesty, and within the first quarter of the campaign's launch, the same-store sales increased by 14.3%.
Through social media, landing pages, advertisements, and video, Domino's crafted a tale of redemption. They had lost their way, but thanks to honest feedback from their customers, they were back on track and producing better pizza with better policies. Honesty won the day.
Assess Your Audience
To make your storytelling truly effective, you need to have a good handle on your audience. What are they interested in? How can you directly speak to them? A buyer persona will give you some basic information about your target audience, which will help you determine how to talk to them.
The people who create Burt's Bees, a line of health and beauty care products, know that their audience wants all-natural products that make them feel good about what they're putting on their own skin as well as on their families.
The most interesting part about Burt's Bees storytelling style is the way they manage to address three audiences simultaneously, including:
- Women seeking beautiful and natural makeup products
- Parents concerned about the products they use on their babies' sensitive skin
- Environmentally-conscious customers who are interested in how their health and beauty products are sourced and packaged
Burt's Bees effortlessly juggles these audiences. They speak to them separately, but they make the story engaging and informative, so if someone wanders out of their specific section, they'll still be interested.
Share Your Purpose Through Your Story
Why does your company exist? If you can't come up with something beyond, "we want to make money," you're in trouble. What purpose does your product or service serve? Why should people engage with you?
The answer to this should require you to tell a story.
One of the best examples of a company's story serving as the foundation of their organization is TOMS, the shoe company. Sure, TOMS creates fashionable and functional footwear, but there's more to them than shoes.
TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie created the company after a visit to Argentina in 2006, when he saw firsthand the hardships that children without shoes suffer every day. From the beginning, TOMS matched every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of shoes donated to a child who needed them — it was the birth of TOMS One for One program.
This story is heartwarming and it gives customers a good reason to purchase a pair of shoes. They get quality footwear as well as a feeling that they've helped a child in need — it's a win/win for all involved.
Your story might not be as powerful as TOMS, but that doesn't mean that it won't make an impact on your customers. Share your "why" — why are you in the business you're in? — and your customers will feel like they've got additional incentive to make a purchase.
Storytelling engages with your customers on an all-too-familiar level, drawing them in and captivating them as you weave your tale. Need a hand developing a story for your brand? We can help! Contact us to schedule your free marketing consultation today.