While the rising subscription-based economy is an entirely new phenomenon, the human affinity for narrative is nothing new. According to experienced brand storyteller James T. Noble, “storytelling is a proven way to develop identity, build your client base, and increase sales.” A well-told narrative bridges the gap between advertising and building relationships. Given that 75% of consumers don’t trust advertising messages, the emotional appeal of a story can draw them in, and leave them more receptive to further communications from a brand. Here are several additional benefits:
- Narrative lends a personalized bent to your brand.
- Stories can spruce up even the most boring case studies and data sets.
- Tales of real-life customers can lend social proof to your advertising messages.
Perhaps best of all,** stories are a cheap platform**. There’s no cost aside from your time in developing a tale of your best customer’s success using your product, or penning a modern fable that directly ties to your ideal customer’s pain points. Here are some ways to ensure storytelling is highly appropriate, and effective:
1. Strive for Social Proof
Perhaps the simplest and most-apparent form of brand storytelling, case studies allow customers to do the talking on behalf of the brand. Consumers are more likely to listen to another consumer’s take on a branded solution than a companies, and a well-written case study illustrates the efficacy of a product in action. The most well-written customer success stories read more like a narrative than a corporate tip sheet, and include insight on the company’s pain points, and any difficulty encountered in reaching their current level of success.
71% of B2B marketers are currently using case studies actively to convert and convince their prospects. Case studies aren’t the only form of social proof that can effectively convey a brand’s story. Actively solicit quotations, images, and other content from your customer base to incorporate into your content marketing.
2. Be Relevant
Even if you opt to craft a modernized fairy tale of a company actively seeking subscription software solutions and fighting the terrible dragon known as low uptime, your story should be rooted in reality. Use enough consistency with the factors your prospects encounter on a regular basis to develop rapport, and avoid overselling your solution in a way that could potentially damage trust.
While AllState’s Mayhem character is a sort of dark and mythical, the situations he causes present very real risk to the brand’s target buyer.
3. Write a Hero
While some literary greats have experimented with deplorable protagonists, known as anti-heroes over time, there’s little reason to believe that it would be an effective marketing tactic. Regardless of who you decide to make the star of your branded story, ensure they’re someone that your buyer personas want to win in the end.
There are a number of ways to improve the relevance of your story’s hero, but key methods could include writing similar demographics, struggles, and priorities as your buyer personas.
4. Have a Familiar Structure
As Forbes Contributor Susan Gurnelius points out, every familiar story has three components: a beginning, middle, and an end. While you can experiment with serial installments of your story, or create suspense on social media, your marketing messages will be far more effective if you manage to bring your readers full circle within a blog article, video, or eBook.
If there’s no resolution to your narrative, they’ll be left feeling frustrated. Similarly, without sufficient back story, your audience will have a more difficult time building a connection to the hero.
5. Create a Brand Experience
Outstanding marketing efforts evoke emotion in an audience by providing them with a vibrant sense of how their experience will change after becoming a customer. From our own experience as consumers, we likely associate BMW with luxury, and McDonald’s with convenience.
The goal of your brand’s storytelling should be to provide a multi-faceted picture of the customer experience to anyone looking in from the outside, and to build as many emotional connections along the way as possible.
Mediocre marketers state the facts, terrible marketers stretch the truth, and amazing marketers create an experience that’s so irresistible, consumers can’t help but be drawn in. Incorporating traditional principles of narrative into your content marketing and social media, including heroes and beginnings, middle, and end, can significantly improve the emotional appeal of your branded solution.