When it comes to marketing, one of the most effective ways to grab your customers’ interest and get them to buy your product or service is to tell a story. Using a marketing tactic like “Hey, you need this product because of x, y, and z” might initially grab someone’s attention, but it’s not compelling.
Traditional marketing relies heavily on customers believing you when you tell them what a product does or why they should buy it. But today’s consumers are more knowledgeable and discerning, meaning they’re not so easily convinced.
Consumers today want to feel something. They want to engage with brands that feel authentic and relatable. They want transparency and to know for certain they are supporting a good brand and that the product or service they are purchasing is quality and worth their time and money—thus the need for storytelling.
Storytelling can evoke emotions and thoughts that spur your customers more quickly into action, which is the ultimate goal of marketing. If you want to make a sale and increase profits to grow your business, you must be capable of motivating your customers more often than not through a call-to-action.
The Power of Storytelling
Storytelling is effective at supporting a call-to-action because stories can do what more simple, traditional marketing copy cannot. Stories are engaging, they pull the customer’s interest and hold their attention, they are thought-provoking, they make people feel things more deeply, and they are informative and provide great detail.
It’s one thing to tell a customer what a product does and why they need it, but it’s another to show them through storytelling. Customers today don’t easily fall for the same old marketing tricks. As such, it’s becoming more vital to find newer and better ways to connect with customers and motivate them to take action and make purchases—and a story can help do that.
Storytelling can help provide more detail about your product or service in a more compelling way. Instead of just listing off everything your product does, you can show how great and effective your product is through a story. This gives your customer more of the transparency and detail they need to be thoroughly convinced that your product is worth their money and does what you say it does.
Furthermore, telling a story also helps you build better relationships with your customers; it allows them to more easily connect and relate to who you are and what you’re saying. Because a story evokes emotions, it helps your customers feel more strongly about your brand, thereby creating a more personal and emotional connection. And customer relationships and brand loyalty are essential to growing a successful business.
How to Tell a Compelling Story Through Your Content
Content marketing can include nearly every aspect of your marketing, from your emails and text campaigns to social media, blogs, and website content. All these areas can benefit from content that tells more of a story to compel your customers to take action.
Telling a good story, however, is not easy—especially in the marketing sense. Because we aren’t talking about pages of plot, like in a novel, we’re talking about copy and content presented in a way that conveys a concise narrative.
Read the following tips to start using storytelling as a marketing tool.
Determine a Theme or Message
Before creating your story, it’s important to have an overriding theme or message to guide you. This can stem from your brand identity and image, or it can be apart from that. Either way, you need to have something to guide you and keep your story cohesive across all content you create.
It helps to ask yourself what message you’re trying to convey or what point you want to get across. If you don’t know what you want your customers to get out of your story, how can you expect to tell a compelling story in the first place?
This first step is often what takes the most time and brainstorming. Your theme or overarching messaging is the foundation of your story, and your content will be based on it. So take your time and make sure it’s well thought out.
Be Authentic and Transparent
While the word “storytelling” might bring to mind the idea of make-believe and tall tales, content storytelling for a brand should be authentic and transparent. And this ultimately means your story should be true and genuine.
The point, after all, of using storytelling in your marketing is to build trust and loyalty, and to provide your customers with the information they need. So if your storytelling is fake and based on lies, it won’t do you any good.
The more real and honest you are with your customers, the better. Let them know who you are, why your company was founded, what inspires you, what you hope to achieve, what your core values are, how your company has grown, and who its members or employees are. These are all things that can help inspire the story you tell and encourage you to be as authentic with your customers as possible.
This one should go without saying, but position yourself as unique and offer something different from your competitors. Look at what they’re doing and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. While you can use a similar recipe for success as others, you don’t want to completely copy what they are doing.
The story you tell should be unique to your brand or the message you’re trying to convey. When brands start doing the same thing and jumping on the same train, your customers won’t be able to differentiate you from the rest of the pack. So don’t be afraid to go bold and be different.
Infuse Personality Into Your Story
Personality is a key element in making a story compelling. Dry, basic, or overly detailed narratives that are clearly just trying to bomb the customer with information to make a sale are no longer effective. Instead, give your story some personality.
You’re trying to sell something without making it seem like you’re trying to sell something. The best way to do it? Create interesting, compelling, and exciting content that engages your customers and stirs their emotions.
And don’t forget—you want your content to leave a lasting impression. It should be something your customers enjoy and want to share with others. If it’s too riddled with corporate lingo or sales language, it will put them off. So have fun with it.
Make It Flow
Wherever the story is told—on your website, in an email, or on social media—make sure it’s easy to follow. Even short-form content can be jumbled and messy, and if your storytelling doesn’t flow or isn’t easy for the reader to grasp, it won’t be effective.
So make sure each piece or part of your story within your content is fitting. If something doesn’t make sense or if it doesn’t feel like it fits and it disrupts the flow, get rid of it. Clarity and flow are key when telling a story for marketing purposes.
Keep It Short and Simple, Yet Informative
Your storytelling content needs to pack a punch—a short and simple punch, to be exact. Understandably, telling a story is easier when there’s no word limit, but you’ll lose your customer’s interest if you go into too much detail.
Though brief and catchy stories are best, you still want them to be informative, so take the time to plan them out. Try making a list of the most important things you want to have in your content, and then think of unique and creative ways to incorporate them without just laying it all out in long sentences and paragraphs.
Have Fun and Start Creating
Most important? Have fun and get creative. Storytelling should be fun, and it also doesn’t just have to be told through words alone. Images can also be quite powerful. So try thinking of unique ways to incorporate logo designs and fun photos into your content to help tell your story. Stock photos are a good place to start to get inspiration, but you can also create your own original photos or logo designs.
Keep These Things in Mind When Using Storytelling as a Marketing Tool
If you’re telling your story through content on your websites, there are some things you should avoid, such as generic design templates and too many elements. These common web design mistakes are never a good idea, but they should be avoided especially when using your content to tell a story. Remember, you want your story to be original and easy to follow. If your website has a basic template or too many elements overwhelming it, it can detract from the story you are trying to tell.
Another thing to keep in mind is the feedback you will receive from your storytelling. When a brand tells a story through its content, it often feels more personal than traditional marketing. As such, it’s easier to get hurt or mad when customers aren’t receptive to your story or leave negative reviews, but it’s important not to lash out or take this personally.
Storytelling is personal, which is the point—it can help you connect and build better relationships with your customers. However, being honest and transparent also means that you’re opening yourself up to criticism from people who don’t connect with your story—and that’s okay.
Negative reviews and feedback are a part of going into business. It’s important to learn how to be resilient in the face of adversity and not let the negativity get you down. Never stop being authentic and transparent just because everyone doesn’t agree with you or like your brand.
Storytelling Is Connection
Storytelling is still one of the best ways to engage with your customer and motivate them into action. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do, but as long as you have fun and continue to be transparent in your storytelling, you will attract more and more loyal customers.