3 Principles of Storytelling that Apply to Marketing
April 2, 2015
I’ve heard the word “stories” being dropped around a lot in meetings lately. It’s a word that’s beginning to catch up with “let’s get this content to go viral”.
Objectively speaking, I think that’s a fair need. All of us using our content to market our services, network and generate leads want for it to be received well and shared as widely as possible.
But how do we get there? Is it enough to be quirky, creative, be tuned into pop-culture and have a great foundation in the liberal arts?
I think that’s a good beginning, but there’s a lot more to storytelling than meets the eye. And if you think I’m kidding, try and start writing a story from soup to nuts all by yourself.
To begin with, it’s very important to understand why stories matter.
If you take a little time to think about it, telling stories is how human beings connect and communicate with each other. We love nothing more than stories of triumph against all odds and there’s science that backs this with research and data.
According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, storytelling nudges our bodies into producing Oxytocin, the official “feel good” sponsor of the human body. And a well-told story sends this hormone into overdrive.
Image Source: Simply Measured
So, essentially, a well-developed story has elements that trigger all the right spots in the brain. And obviously, in the digital marketing context, the responses from these triggers result in greater readership, stronger communities, higher traffic and leads and yada yada. You get the picture.
How Do We Build Stories?
How do we begin building the stories we need to tell. Let’s assume we’ve done our homework with creating buyer profiles, identifying content souring touch-points and all that jazz, what exactly is it that must come together to tell a great story.
There are a few non-negotiable elements that you have to keep in mind.
Pro-tip: Become a lifelong student of human behaviour.
- Build a Story Arc – Understand conflict-resolution. The beginning of a great journey comes from being jolted out of a very comfortable place and beginning the process of looking for a solution. In fiction, this concept translates into innumerable best-sellers and (Lord of the Rings, for instance). In marketing, all you have to do is study successful campaigns of the brands you love and admire.
Image Source: Vi. Sualize.Us
My personal favourites come from classic brands like Coca-Cola, Cadburys and Nescafé and in more recent times, from brands like Make My Trip and OLX.in. With all of their ads – whether someone’s trying to “Open Happiness,” listen to their heart or land a job as a stand-up comedian – everything begins with a problem and ends at a solution.
The moral of the story is to get people to see solutions instead of their unchanging problems.
- Find the Emotional Connection – Despite our varied backgrounds, human beings share a very common experience. We all understand what it feels like to experience loss, frustration, relief, joy, happiness and love. If you’re trying to weave together storytelling and content marketing, you first need to identify your target audience’s most pressing needs and show them a way to overcome their situation.
- Think Transmedia: In the literary world, you’d think of transmedia as the condensing or expansion of a short-story into a book length narrative, or vice-versa. Believe it or not, there’s a parallel between this example and content marketing.
As marketers, we need to constantly be thinking about the touch-points for message consumption and then create a relevant and powerful message for the medium and audience. Sometimes that can mean making sure you repurpose your existing content instead of wrecking your brain cells to find a new story.Dredge up content of yours that you haven’t looked at for a while and approach it with fresh eyes. Can you turn it into a case study? (Case studies are great story-telling opportunities, p.s.) Can you put a blog post in a newsletter? Have a tweet chat with the concept?
The possibilities are endless if there’s a little bit of imagination thrown in.
For a final thought, I’m just going to leave you with this.
Image Source: i-scoop.eu
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