Story influences people in ways that direct sales could never do — partly because consumers are more sophisticated today and partly because empathy is powerful. Traditional sales techniques are straightforward but more effective behind a focused narrative. Stories about brands with purpose and about brands with heart are easier to digest for casual consumers.
Marketers need to understand the elements of their brand in the context of the narrative. The first step in crafting a story is to figure out what message a particular brand is all about. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It requires a focus on customers or messaging that reflects the core aspects of what the business does. It means boiling down the brand to a succinct purpose.
Banks and credit lenders might want to tell stories about individuals who benefited from their offerings. This might be done through regular updates to Facebook or Twitter about the new home they purchased, or the extra money they have for their growing family. Personal stories have a resonance that bland interest rate listings and financial news items fail to achieve.
The second step is to reinforce the elements of the story in other forms of marketing, like video and email campaigns. A lot of companies take an “anything goes” approach to advertising and sales. Instead of re-working every avenue of messaging, find the core part of the story and tell it through those traditional channels. This way the core message gets reinforced so that the viewer/reader gets an impression of the brand in their mind. Consistency is important here. The theme should be true across all versions of the story whether on a Twitter feed or an Instagram update.
Here are just a few examples of brands that utilized storytelling in their advertising.
Loblaw and Community
A large part of establishing a brand in the minds of consumers is in connecting to some larger identity at work. This doesn’t have to be emotional but often is. Last year Loblaw put together a lengthy video of neighbors from various backgrounds enjoying a meal together. It identified with core human interests like community, cooking, sharing and conversation. In this way, an attachment is formed with the brand. The company logo didn’t even appear until the video wrapped; the association with food and community is the identifier.
Nike and Personalization
Nike has a website and running club called “Nike+ Run Club” with special offers and discounts on shoes and gear for serious marathoners and novices alike. Members can list their times and progress via the app and organize training regimes. Events are listed for participants as well as training sessions and coaches with programs for every level of fitness. This is messaging to a specific identity group, runners. The website is designed around an interest base and reinforced through events and programs, not to mention progress updates from the members. Nike lets users push the narrative of fitness, the core value of the business, by joining a like-minded community.
FreeCreditReport.com and Video
A few years ago FreeCreditReport.com had a catchy commercial jingle with a fake rock band that told a story about bad credit woes and how to fix them. Each new video furthered the story by showing the band playing different gigs and steadily climbing the social ladder, thanks to improved credit. The message was geared to millennials and those hoping to improve their financial stability. The company used the faux band’s increasing fame to emphasize how improved credit equals improved prospects. These videos were easy to add to social media sites and the spoofs increased their profile.
Advertisers are learning how to deliver effective content through more personal means and appeal to increasingly selective consumers. People are drawn to stories because stories reach them on a personal level. Crafting a message that exemplifies the best elements of a business takes planning since it will form the core strategy of storytelling.
Need help telling your story? Find out how we can use storytelling for your marketing needs.