More and more brands are capitalising on storytelling in content marketing – and gaining great success in doing so. While content marketing and storytelling don’t always seem to go hand in hand, the truth is they’re a match made in heaven.
Storytelling forms a major part of our society. It’s how parents impart wisdom to children and how we escape from our day to day lives through novels, film and podcasts.
Whether we think so or not, we all take part in storytelling on a day-to-day basis.
But how does this relate to marketing?
What is storytelling in marketing?
Storytelling in marketing is just that: telling a story. It works the same way as telling any other story. It’s a fictitious or non-fictitious account that features a protagonist, moulds characters, builds a plot, displays conflicts or obstacles, and all within a beautiful narrative.
Yet, storytelling has since transformed into something that sells. We’re seeing people craft stories around their brands, products and services through their website, blog, adverts, email, and social media channels.
In essence, storytelling in marketing is the art of communicating something to your audience. It should be believable, relatable, authentic, and contagious enough to inspire them to take action. You’re showing them why they should care about something and invest in your brand.
Why is storytelling important in marketing?
Storytelling in marketing is something that all brands can make the most of – including yours. Stories have been an integral part of life throughout history.
They help form our thoughts and imagination, driving our paths to engagement, collaboration and connection. It has actually been proven that stories boost levels of oxytocin in the brain, which is the driving force behind well-being and bonding. But that’s not all.
- Stories inspire human emotion. They’re something that your audience can relate to, often through a character’s struggles, conflicts and happy moments.
- They humanise your brand. The vulnerability and weaknesses displayed in stories help bridge the gap between you and your audience, creating trust and a stronger bond. Remember, people buy from people!
- They stop you from sounding too salesy. Stories allow you to display your research, USPs and product benefits in a non-salesy manner. Tying it into a narrative demonstrates how your products or services will add value to your customer’s lives.
- It will make your products appear more compelling. No matter how boring you might think your products or services are, you can make the most of storytelling to make them more engaging for your audience.
- People remember 22% more from stories. While facts and figures help you to display trust, this isn’t the information that sticks. Communicating a message through a narrative is how you’ll get your audience to remember you instead of the competition.
- You’ll boost your conversion rates by 30%. When stories aim to answer customer queries, you’ll see the relationship you build with them drive real conversions to your business.
Storytelling content marketing examples
To get you feeling inspired, here are 3 of our favourite examples of storytelling that you can use to connect with your audience.
Storytelling sits at the heart of Dyson. You only need to look at the ‘Who We Are’ page on the James Dyson Foundation website to see how you might emulate this with your brand.
Lego is renowned for its storytelling, and International Women’s Day this year was no exception to that. They got their audience involved in continuing a narrative from Lego’s past across their social media accounts.
Patagonia regularly leverages the power of storytelling in content marketing to transform its audience into activists. It tells the story of individuals (customers), who use their power to do something incredible. If that’s not inspiring, what is?
How to create storytelling content
So how can you bring storytelling into your content marketing?
- Know your audience
Before you go ahead and write an ‘engaging’ story, you need to fully understand the people that you want to engage with it. If you haven’t already, it’s worth taking some real time to map out your brand’s buyer personas.
- Build the main character
There’s no story without a protagonist. Build your narrative around the main character – the whole story should revolve around them. They should be relatable to your audience to really build that emotional connection.
- Start strong
Spoiler alert. In the same way that articles have great headlines, you want to lure your audience in with a great start. Don’t give it all away, but you need to give them enough that they’re going to want to carry on reading – so start with the best bits.
- Create conflict
You don’t need to create a fistfight, but good stories peak at conflict. Create an obstacle that your protagonist will need to overcome. The Cathy Yardley technique is a great way of viewing this. She explains that good stories need to start with a goal. You then show the motivation behind this goal, the obstacles to achieving this, and end with disaster. (Or in the case of marketing, it could also be an opportunity presented when discovering your product or service.)
- Use emotion
Guide your audience through the highs and lows that your main character experiences. Build fear, drive anger, incite joy. Make your audience feel.
- Fill it with facts
Make sure you support your story with evidence. After all, you want to convince them that they need your product or services. Let the narrative lead, but use your data to boost it.
- Remain authentic
Think about how you want the wider world to view your brand. While elaborating a narrative, you want to remain as authentic as possible. Ensure that you still humanise the brand so that your audience views you as genuine, real and relatable.
- Be concise
They estimate that the average person reads a few thousand words a day. Make sure your storytelling content features in this number by keeping it engaging. Get to the point!
- Embrace different formats
There are so many different ways that you can deliver a story. It doesn’t have to be in a traditional text format. Video clips, audio, long-form text, your options are endless. It’s all about knowing your audience and how they like to digest content. Yet whatever you choose, make sure you use visual elements to maintain intrigue.
Break the silence!
It’s time to have a go for yourself. What stories does your brand have to tell? Remember to always come back to your audience. Think about what they might want to hear and how they might want to read, listen to or watch it.
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