Start with storytelling: Marketing follows naturally.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a young, fair maiden who dreamed of a life far more enchanting. Like any courageous maiden, she fled the confines of her castle to explore the world around her. She met mysterious strangers – some she grew to love, others she chose to learn from. The maiden took chances, made mistakes, and learned more on her journey than she could have ever imagined.
But who is this young, fair lady? Could it be Belle from Beauty and the Beast? Possibly. Could it be Carrie in Sex and the City? Maybe. Could it be me? Perhaps.
The story could be about anyone. The who doesn’t necessarily make a difference (yet). The importance of the story is that it captured your attention, which is exactly what I hoped to do.
But it certainly won’t keep you here.
What’s missing in the story above that would keep my audience engaged?
All technical elements that keep readers reading.
Why does storytelling marketing work?
I’ll bet you’re wondering why this matters for businesses. Well, my friends, commerce is built on tales, and tales develop into sales.
Car salesmen sell stories: A minivan is perfect for a growing family. Picture your child and his school-age friends clamoring over each other for a seat after their youth soccer game. Jewelry is created based on a story that can be sold. Engagement rings with three diamonds aren’t called tri-stone rings – they’re “past-present-future rings.” Necklaces are designed in the shape of an infinity symbol, to show that the purchaser’s love is never ending.
Everyone loves stories. Children beg their parents for just one more before bedtime. Campers lose themselves in spooky campfire yarns. Bars fill up with heavy-drinking fish-tale-tellers.
To know how to market your company or to build a brand, you need to understand how creative engagement plays a role in the sales process.
Some stories are meant to surprise us.
Like any good movie or book, readers want to feel surprised in some way. They don’t want to feel deceived by the narrator, but readers will stop reading if the plot is too obvious. This Apple commercial does a great job of surprising its viewers. A heartwarming video, it tugs at heartstrings, allows viewers to identify with the characters, and still manages to show us its products in use without hard selling in any way.
Other stories are meant to engage us.
Here, Coca-Cola shows us camera footage from around the world. Security cameras, by design, are meant to capture crime and illegal activity on video. The opposite is true of this campaign. Humans are shown enjoying life and performing good deeds. How often do you see the company’s product in the commercial? Just once, and only in the form of a vending machine in the very end. The commercial closes with Coca-Cola asking people, “How do you #ShareTheGood?” By including a hashtag, they aren’t ending the story. They’re asking consumers to engage with the brand and continue the conversation on social media.
My favorite stories are built on character.
Meet Mayhem. In this classic case of personification, Allstate takes a situation and turns it into a character. This commercial could have been written in so many different variations. You could see a young girl driving, read the text, and BOOM: The accident happens. It’s been done before. Instead, Allstate creates a character that they can (and have) cast in many different roles to epitomize just how important good insurance is to consumers.
Storytelling marketing: Start with creative writing
In the coming weeks, I’ll discuss elements of creative craft that every businesses writing blog should understand, such as word choice, drafting, revision, voice, plot, and many other techniques. I’ll introduce you to brands who are successfully engaging their customers with storytelling marketing, and I’ll show you ways you and your company can incorporate the craft of writing to build a better audience and increase your sales.
Have you tried incorporating storytelling techniques into your blog? What techniques have worked well for you? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments!