Storytelling is a way to connect with another person or group. Society has long used it to pass down familial anecdotes, document a civilization’s history or share current events. In marketing, it is a technique brands can use to connect with customers through sharing the company’s history, experience and perspective.
Sharing the brand experience with the outside world can go a long way toward making connections and building relationships. It also helps build trust through sharing authenticity. These are three important reasons to incorporate storytelling into a client’s content strategy.
A story differentiates the business
In order to remain competitive, businesses have to differentiate themselves from the competition. While some brands may offer similar products or services, one way they can separate themselves from the rest is through their own history.
Storytelling can play a significant role in achieving differentiation because of the emotional response it can elicit from consumers. Most everyone can identify with a “feel good” sentiment or story filled with inspiration. Having your CEO or another company representative tell a story also creates a personal connection. Differentiation essentially can bring a brand to life and give it character well beyond standard advertising.
Visuals heighten emotion
Text is great, but visuals bring powerful responses and, since the advent of television, images have become an essential component of marketing. Fast forward a few decades and now there is the Web, which makes it easy to mix images and text. And the combination could not be more perfect. Did you know businesses can generate up to 94 percent more page views by adding good imagery?
Adding stock images to text-based content can enhance a blog post. But including original photos and videos will be more compelling and, as a result, catch more attention. One good photo can tell a wonderful story about a brand and directly touch the emotions of a customer.
Relevance is key. Resist the urge to aim for what you think might go viral. Instead, always stay true to the brand’s image and keep imagery positive by choosing photos that illustrate a brand’s values. Doing so will heighten emotion and tend to trigger positive and passionate responses.
Marketing is now a two-way street
In decades past, marketing was aimed directly at potential customers. Essentially, brands spoke and people listened. Today, that has all changed. Computers and mobile devices provide a far more intimate experience than television, noted Nestle’s digital innovation manager, Stephanie Naegeli, at Dmexco 2015, eConsultancy reported in September.
Consumers are in digital spaces where they can communicate directly with brands on a two-way street. They can also share content and add their own perspective. This means brands have to kick it up a notch and add a personal angle to their marketing efforts.
Storytelling contributes to a culture of content
Storytelling has internal benefits for companies, too. From upper management to the ground floor of an organization, storytelling can help create a company-wide enthusiasm and become a cornerstone of the organization. Agencies can assist their clients by encouraging everyone in the company to share information and their good experiences with the brand. What better endorsement than that of the people who know the brand inside and out?
As with all elements of content marketing, it is important that agencies always keep their clients’ customers and potential customers in mind. Ultimately, they should be placed at the center of storytelling, no matter which approach is used.
The emotion and powerful connection that comes through storytelling is something people crave, said Mary van de Wiel, founder and CEO of A New Brand Landscape & Co. and ZingYourBrand.com, in 2009.
The success of social media networks illustrates this sentiment still holds true today.
If you have a content marketing program, or are planning one, download our ebook: 100 mistakes businesses make when starting, optimizing and scaling content marketing programs. Learn from the mistakes of hundreds of other companies. 100 mistakes walks you through common and uncommon challenges that they faced with their content marketing programs.