Storytelling—one of humanity's oldest and most treasured art forms. Some stories have been passed down from generation to generation as old wives' tales and myths, and more recently, stories have been shared as trending hashtags and viral animal videos. No matter the format or medium, they have a way of making complex issues easier to understand and what would normally be excruciatingly boring topics, enthralling. No one knows when the first story was told, but one thing is clear: stories impact almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives—music, books, paintings, television, religion, news media, social media, and even the marketing and advertising tactics we see.
As time passes, our way of telling stories has evolved and so has the way we hear them. A typical marketing piece for a brand in the 1960s and 70s was “we are the best, this is why.” But that simply isn’t enough anymore. People are tired of hearing the same old story time and time again. We all have that uncle that repeats himself at every family reunion. It's a bit like that. It starts to no longer be entertaining and people simply stop listening. So how can your product or service start engaging new customers and help to build your audience? One of the most effective ways to do this is by rewriting how people interact with your brand and implementing original and captivating stories throughout your marketing.
Where to Start
The type of stories you decide to tell will help differentiate your brand from competitors and add some originality to your marketing. When brainstorming what you would like to say, try to stick to these 3 categories:
- Lifestyle stories
- Design stories
- Testimonial stories
These three styles of stories have proven most successful at grabbing the attention of potential (and existing) customers.
Next Up, Research
Of course you can’t just start writing. In order to tell a story that’s relatable and engaging for your target audience, you need to know a thing or two about them. Try gathering information from a survey or online data-mining (searching for the answers to your questions online). If you still aren’t finding the desired info, try reaching out to them. Whether that be digitally, over the phone, or heaven forbid, a real in-person conversation, this is often where you will find the most insight.
The Writing Process
Now you’re ready to start writing. Here are four elements that you should always keep in mind when crafting a story:
- Lesson learned.
They don’t necessarily need to be followed in this order, but these are all key components of a successful story and will help hook your reader while also leaving them feeling rewarded.
So you’ve got the story writing down, and hopefully all the while you’ve been thinking of how it relates back to your product or service and the parallels you’ve written. Now it’s time to write a seamless transition that leads the reader from the story to your brand. Too salesy and you might lose the reader; too vague and they might not make the connection. Keep the following tips in mind when deciding how to insert your brand into the story:
- Use phrases like, “This reminds me of,” or “This is a great example of.”
- Try anchoring. This is the tactic of dropping words before the story and then again when you transition to talking about your brand. For example, if you are telling a story about an experience having to do with integrity, you might start your intro with, “I’ve always been a fan of people with integrity.” Then, right as you are ending your story, saying something like, “that’s why when I started this company I wanted to focus on integrity.” Get it? If you’re paying attention you might see another example in this very blog post.
Edit, Edit, Edit
These three tips will help both simplify and amp up your story:
- Read over your words at least a couple of times and focus on being concise. Cut out anything that is too wordy or unnecessary.
- Replace any limp words with more powerful, descriptors. For example, try replacing “smart” with “wildly intelligent."
- While you’re executing step number two, you might as well create a word bank of awesome descriptors to use in other stories!
How are people interacting with your story? Have you seen an increase in sales? How about customer responses or click through rates? If that particular story was successful, what's to stop you from spreading it across all your marketing channels and capitalizing on all that hard work? This also helps you fine-tune your writing and see what types of stories resonate most with your readers.
So there you have it. Storytelling. It's not just for restless toddlers and moody novelists. The art stretches far beyond the traditional understanding of the word and if mastered correctly, can have a major impact on your business. Got a case of writer's block? We've not only been writing our own, but hundreds of clients' stories for over 20 years now. We would love to be your left hand man (assuming you hold your pencil in your right).