From a very young age we relate and react to storytelling. It’s also the oldest marketing and sales tool. Stories trigger an emotional connection. And so the effect that a brand story has on customers is that connection. This is why brand storytelling must be part of your strategy. We might share similar values and lifestyle with your brand, or it might be bringing back memories or experiencing new ones. Good stories can be inspirational, aspirational, empowering and even life-changing. The main purpose of brand storytelling is to understand what makes your customer tick (their wants and needs) and create relatable stories around them. The aim is to identify the problem customers have, come up with a solution (which is your product) and bridge the two through storytelling.
I think storytelling works well for any brand in any market. Retail in particular is full of great examples. The storytelling retailers use might not necessarily be through words. It can be through partnerships and collaboration, POS (point of sale), the way they display merchandise, their catalogue design or an advert on TV. It also might be through “the face” of the campaign, a tagline or even type of fonts. Storytelling has more than one form. It can be visual and verbal. It’s something that is constantly evolving ( e.g. through marketing campaigns and rebranding) as business grows and innovates.
If you want your business to survive in future, storytelling must be part of any of your marketing campaign. These days most markets are saturated. Unless you are an inventor and create a new market, you are probably playing the game under highly competitive market conditions. If that’s the case, most customers understand products and what they are for in its basic form. We no longer need to teach them how to use our products e.g. shoes protect your feet while walking outside. We already past that stage. We also past the “benefits” stage, meaning we can’t promote, market and sell our products based on their characteristics/benefits/specifications only. What we need to teach our customers is how, through our products, we can improve their lives. For example, if you are a shoe brand, help us to connect with your brand and your values. How are you helping me to feel everyday?
It’s about the story first — the connection — and then the product. To understand this better study marketing campaigns that are all around you. From billboards to TV ads and newspaper ad pages, notice that actually the most cleverly done campaigns don’t show the product, or they do so at the very end. Get inspired by them.
To achieve a highly successful marketing campaign through storytelling, the campaign should have the following elements:
1/ Trigger — This point is the most crucial one. It’s the reason why we stop and pay attention to the campaign. It needs to be something powerful. Understanding your customer inside out will help you define what kind of trigger will be most effective. Some brands use celebrities, others play on our problems and weaknesses or use strong storytelling visuals. Analyse your customer and come up with triggers that create the biggest impact.
2/ Hook — This point is about WHAT COULD BE, HOW WOULD I FEEL? It’s about the improvement in my life as a customer. It’s about painting the picture. If I’m your customer, help me visualise my dream or aspiration. Present me with the vision and the future. Tell me a story that fires me up.
3/ Result — This point is the solution to the all above. If I buy your product, I’m buying into the story. I believe that your product is the solution to my problem. Make me believe so I can be inspired and act.
Successful brands are able to engage all three points in their campaigns while sharing the same viewpoint with their customer. Ultimately, the customer has to believe in it, whether the actual story is true or not. Remember that storytelling never stops. We can always expand on it. With the power of social media we can also get our customers involved, so let them. Let them become part of your campaign.
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