The power of storytelling in marketing

OPENSEED Digital Consultancy

At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel. ― Maya Angelou

For as long as human beings have been gathering around the campfire, crowding into town halls and poring over the pages of newspapers, we’ve been transfixed by the simple of art of good story, well told.

If it touches us, inspires us or empowers us, storytelling resonates and elicits recall and action far beyond the brief moment spent hearing or reading the tale.

Too often, business fails to engage storytelling in the way they interact with their consumer. So busy selling, they neglect the “why” behind the brand and the problems a brand can solve.

And it’s when you touch the nerve, harness empathy, elicit emotion and build trust that the customer connects with a business.

Here’s an insight into harnessing the power of storytelling in marketing.

It’s all about the story

Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell – Seth Godin

It’s estimated that by 2020 1.7 megabytes of data will be created every second. In an age where every brand is vying for the eyes and ears of the consumer, how does your story stand out from the crowd?

Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What problems do you solve? How do you seek to improve the lives of your consumer? These are the nuggets of storytelling gold.

Statistics indicate long before consumers reach for the phone or walk through the door they seek out this who and why looking for relatable information. Meanwhile, most use search engines in a bid to solve their pain points, asking how something can be done or what something is.

The best brands stories cater to this, offering well-told stories and solving problems within five distinct areas:

  1. The Why
  2. The Brand Origin
  3. The Hero
  4. Their Pain Point
  5. Client Resolution (transformation)

The why

The why of any brand is all about its personal story. It gives potential clients an insight into who you are. It enables them to feel your ethos, message and mission. And it’s when people feel that they connect.

It also enables storytelling about the problems your business solves, or the gaps that it fills, allowing it to stand out from the crowd.

Consider any major brand, but let’s use Apple as an example because as marketer and author Marc Gobe, told Wired in 2002, Apple’s brand is the key to its survival.

“Without the brand, Apple would be dead. Absolutely. Completely. The brand is all they’ve got. The power of their branding is all that keeps them alive. It’s got nothing to do with products.”

Their message? Apple is about imagination, design and innovation. The result according to Gobe is that Apple established itself as a good friend.

“Somewhere they have created this really humanistic, beyond-business relationship with users and created a cult-like relationship with their brand. It’s a big tribe, everyone is one of them. You’re part of the brand.”

That “why” may also extend to a personal insight of the people behind the brand in the knowledge humans are always more accessible than companies. And that’s certainly the case of Steve Jobs, an entity synonymous with the Apple brand.

The brand origin

The brand origin offers a wealth of potential for “epic” storytelling, enabling consumers to envisage themselves in a company’s shoes, to go beyond the professional and embrace the personal connection.

A well-told brand origin can take an entity from faceless corporation to relatable ally, who knows, understands and appreciates the challenges of life.

Ultimately it gives a brand a persona, engendering patronage, loyalty and emotion.

And again, let’s look to Apple and the brand origin inextricably woven into their story. We know Apple started out in a garage with three friends and humble beginnings. We feel their struggle as the underdog taking up the fight for innovation that meets a consumer’s needs in a fledgling tech world.

We champion them, celebrate their wins and losses, but most importantly we tune in when the next product is revealed.

The hero

The hero in any story is the one we often most closely relate to. And in marketing that hero is always the ideal consumer.

That’s why the best marketing understands exactly who their consumer is. It knows their trials, tribulations and the problems they’re trying to solve.

It gets their view of life, their daily routine, their disposable income and world view. The art of storytelling involves directly targeting content to this specific consumer, reflecting their way of life, illustrating how the brand aligns with it and how that business can improve their world.

This storytelling may answer questions or solve problems, but it is always done with a specific hero (customer) in mind and the story is told in the digital spaces they most frequently visit.

Their pain points

Customers aren’t as interested in who you are as what you can do for them, and herein lies the art of including pain points in the story.

The fact is almost every Google search reflects an element of pain. They are the how, what, when and whys of life that cause your consumers to pause, ponder and possibly wake up at night.

Finding your niche’s pain points involves considering:

  • The most likely major concerns for your hero
  • The problems your business is best at solving
  • The problems that you would like to solve

The art of storytelling then becomes identifying what your hero is struggling with, showing how you relate to that experience, and indicating how you can assist with information that builds your profile of expertise and authority.

Client Resolution (transformation)

This element of storytelling speaks to how a customer will be better off for interacting with you, and it’s not necessarily about products or services.

Client resolution takes into account the point of difference your company offers, whether that’s experience, customer service, brand origin, success and/or ethos.

Basically, it highlights your expertise, aligns with your niche, profiles your uniqueness and positions you above your peers.

About Openseed

At Openseed we not only create websites but nurture the kernel of great content, devising strategies and storytelling to support business in their ongoing conversation with their customer.

We get to the heart of your message and build upon this dialogue while also using content to help your business rank foremost on Google and at the front of your consumer’s mind. You can learn more about our services here or contact us directly to start that customer conversation.