If you’ve spent any amount of time in the advertising industry, it’s a near-certainty that you’ve heard the term “storytelling” tossed about when trying to think up ideas behind a new campaign strategy. While the term itself might seem a bit vague and ambiguous, it’s actually quite valuable to put it into practice.
The reason behind the philosophy of storytelling in marketing is that it’s a tried-and-true way to get, and keep, and audience’s attention. When it’s done effectively, telling a story can elicit emotions from your target demographic which helps form a connection between brand and consumer.
In this article, I’ll lay out some tips to help you take your storytelling skills to the next level.
1. First, Look Within
Nobody knows your company like the people who spend hours entrenched in the day-to-day operations. When trying to establish an identity to use as the “main character” of your brand’s story, assemble key members of your team and start brainstorming ideas for creating a public-facing persona.
Establishing a brand identity based on the input of team members will not only appeal to potential customers or clients, but it also helps to build a culture that increases productivity and collaboration among employees. When everyone feels like they have something to contribute, morale soars and the quality of work improves as a result.
2. Put Your Mission in Action
Most companies have a mission statement which serves as a summary of an organization’s goals and values. Incorporating this statement into advertising messaging is a seamless way to accomplish two goals at once: helping people learn about your brand, and reinforcing your principles.
Keep in mind that your mission should be unique to your own brand. While it’s inevitable that it will share some similarities with others in your industry, determine a way to differentiate so that you can show your audience why they should choose you.
At the end of the day, you control the narrative that surrounds your brand. Make it’s clear what value you’re bringing to the table.
3. Don’t Forget to Entertain
You might have the best team, the best products, and the best price, but if you can’t hold your audience’s attention none of it really matters.
One of the most common mistakes in brand storytelling is trying to cram too much information about the brand and forgetting to make things relatable to the audience. For example, if Nike (one of, if not the best, brand that exemplifies marketing through storytelling) is selling shoes, they focus on why you should want them, not necessarily how they work. Now, I feel it’s necessary to mention that your brand is probably nowhere near Nike in terms of size and general recognizability, but they’re a perfect example of how to utilize storytelling in an advertising campaign.
If you’re having trouble determining whether or not your content is entertaining, simply ask someone outside of your organization for feedback. But before anything else, ask yourself, “If I didn’t work here, would I care at all about the story I’m telling?” You might not hit the jackpot initially, but listen to both internal and external feedback and make adjustments as necessary.
4. Add Characters
Every good story needs a few characters! By adding some personalities to your messaging, you become much more relatable to your audience.
Who is your ideal customer? Who has the most to gain from utilizing your services or products? Whose lives have you improved as a result of the work you do? These are all great questions to ask when adding a character into the mix.
Even if you don’t necessarily give your character a name, backstory, and all the other details you’d find in a book, for example, you should still be targeting your messaging with the aforementioned questions in mind. You should strive to relate to your customers on a person-to-person level rather than simply existing as a faceless company.
Check out this article to see how this concept has been executed by various big-name companies throughout the years.
5. Have a “Cause”
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years (which quite frankly doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world), social causes have become a cornerstone marketing tactic of new and old brands alike. Whether it’s the environment and climate change, social justice and racial inequality, political participation, etc., brands in just about every industry have rushed to take a stand. Typically, they all share one common message at the core: our brand is a force for good in the world.
The leader , or at least the founder, of “cause marketing” is most likely the shoe brand Toms. In the mid 2000s, Blake Mycoskie was inspired by a trip to Argentina where he noticed a large percentage of working class people didn’t have shoes. He started a company that sold canvas shoes in the Argentinian style, and for every pair he sold a pair was donated to someone in need. For what it’s worth, this particular story doesn’t have the happiest of endings, but it’s undeniable that the experiment served as proof that customers love a brand that they can feel about supporting.
Today, there are endless brands that have adopted the Toms concept of “we’ll donate something when you make a purchase.” Obviously not every brand has the capability to do this, but that’s not an excuse to ignore the idea altogether. If you can’t donate money or give away products on a mass scale, try participating in volunteer opportunities in your local community.
By keeping the concept of storytelling in mind when developing a marketing strategy, you’re helping to bridge the gap between your brand and potential customers. If you’re able to entertain as well as inform, you can’t help but draw attention to your company.
If your business has a story but needs a partner to help get it out there, get in touch today to find solutions tailored to your goals.