How to Use Stories to Market with Lasting Impact

January 17, 2018

Content marketing is a great way to promote your business – if you can get it right.  It’s no wonder that in 2016, 42.5% of companies increased their staff just for content marketing.  However, it’s easy to get buried under all the other marketers out there. The key is to find a way to stand out from the crowd.  Let’s dive into a storytelling marketing example.

Don’t worry, we have the answer and it comes in the form of storytelling. No, we’re not talking about fairy tales. The art of storytelling is about creating something memorable. The more your audience remember you, the stronger your brand gets.

We’ll steer you in the right direction so you can write your own.

Why Does Storytelling Work?

Stories are a powerful way to market your business and build a brand. This because our brains are programmed to remember information presented like stories, and is why stories stand the test of time.

Think about fairy tales; these have been passed down throughout the generations. They’re successful because their message is simple and clear. Not only are these stories entertaining they also communicate beliefs, values, and morals.

How Do I Structure a Story?

At the risk of making you feel like you’re back at school – your content needs a beginning, middle, and end.

This isn’t rocket science, however, following this structure will make a massive difference to the quality and flow of your writing.

Every viral storytelling marketing example will follow this method to a tee.

Beginning

If you want crack content marketing, you have to nail the beginning of your story. This lays the foundation for all the information that comes later.

If you look at a professional storytelling marketing example you’ll find the beginning includes the following:

  • It introduces the current situation.
  • It clarifies what your characters want and needs.

If you don’t do this correctly in the beginning you’ll never allow your story to develop properly.

As a content marketer, it’s imperative you understand that there’s a difference between what the customer wants and what the customer needs. By this, we mean that customers will never ‘want’ your products or services – Instead, they should ‘need’ your product or service to achieve what they actually want.

You have to relate to your customers from the beginning. Tell them how things are for them now and communicate that you understand what they want.

Spoiler alert – they want and need your product or service.

Middle

An effective middle to any storytelling marketing example should include;

  • Your character figuring out a plan to achieve what they want.
  • An attempt to implement that plan (however, they should fail to do this successfully, to begin with).

Your character/(s) have to fail at least once for your story to be relatable. It’s the middle that makes the plot believable.

The true extent of the characters issues becomes clear. The writer may have made the problems seem insignificant to begin with. However, now things are messy, and a solution is desperately needed.

Your character has to invest all of their strength into making their plan work. Ideally, the plan should be reasonable, and the audience should understand there’s a chance it’ll work.

Otherwise, the reader will think your character’s a moron and won’t want to identify with them. You’re looking to create empathy as well as engagement.

You have to put your audience at the forefront of your storytelling process. Only then will you truly empathize with your readers.

It’s critical that a storytelling marketing example strikes this balance.

End

You must include a compelling ending in your storytelling marketing example. You can achieve this by implementing the following;

  • The problem should now be so big that another mistake would result in complete failure.
  • It’s at this point your characters should overcome these hurdles. During this process, they realize what was preventing them from achieving their desired outcome.
  • This revelation should open doors to your character. Almost as if they didn’t know it was possible to live without this solution!

Remember always to relate your characters and plot to situations and personalities that resemble your target audience.

Your ending shouldn’t sound final. Instead, it should suggest a new beginning for your character. They should be on the road to success, with a new story ahead of them.

What Else Should My Story Include?

For your storytelling marketing example to be successful it must include these features;

Firstly, your issue should need an urgent solution. You need to communicate that the character’s problem is now out of control.

This usually epitomized by the fear and shame of admitting complete failure, in whatever form that means to your potential customers.

Secondly, you must show how your character has reached a change in their life (for the better).

Inevitably, you should see the contrast between what they were doing before and what they’re doing now.

You should also consider whether your story hits the below criteria;

  • Is your story relevant? It’s rare your story will have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. You need to tweak it to relate to each of the demographics you’re targeting.
  • Is your story human? People won’t relate to a brand but will connect with other people. You have to make sure your brand has an active human element to it.

We promise this is easier to achieve than it sounds.

 

 

You Must Create Suspense

Suspense is the only thing that makes readers engage with your content from the beginning right until the end.

Achieving this in your own storytelling marketing example is imperative.

Don’t make your story predictable. You need to make sure your plot is full of uncertainty. That’s the only way to achieve this desired anticipation.

Here’s our advice on achieving suspense:

  • Start by being direct. Tell the readers that something’s coming, but be vague as to what they should expect.
  • You can do this by stating the problem without any indication of a solution.
  • Then scatter supporting arguments throughout the plot to smaller, yet related questions to the problem.
  • Finally, piece them together to form a climax – where everything makes sense for both your characters and for the reader.

This is clever and sometimes difficult to pull off because the readers know something the characters don’t. For this to work, you have to keep this up for a significant amount of time.

To use a somewhat crude example:

A person watching a movie may know that a bomb is about to explode. However, they don’t know whether the characters will stay safe.

Think about how you can apply this to your story’s copy.

What story could you tell that would get your audience to say to the characters that they need to buy or use your products or services before it’s too late?

This is why it’s important that customers ‘buy’ part of your story, not just singular products or services.

By ‘buy’ we mean both its literal and metaphorical sense.

Not only is the customer engaging with the story, but they’re also purchasing it. They do this by buying something from the business because they feel they relate to your story.

This is one of the most influential ways to build a loyal following for your brand. Customers now want to come into your world and be part of the story alongside you.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out what an asset this could be to your business.

Keep It Simple

Although incorporating all of the above may sound like a lot, you have to focus on keeping your plot simple throughout your storytelling marketing example.

When you break it down you’re looking at the following features: introduce a problem and eventually follow it with a solution that leads to success.

It’s imperative we stick to these features within the structure otherwise your story will lose momentum, and your readers won’t stay engaged.

Who’s Using This Technique?

Loads of iconic businesses are utilizing this method. From Coca-Cola to Disney everyone’s getting in on this marketing craze.

Look for companies who have a famous storytelling marketing example. It’s useful to model a success story when you’re crafting your own.

Are There Other Benefits to Storytelling?

Yes, in short – there are loads.

Most importantly stories help build trust with potential customers. This is imperative if you want to create a loyal following.

However, in addition to the above advice, you have to convey your personality. Showing your brand’s driven by humans is imperative if you want your audience to relate to you.

This is the key to the success of any storytelling marketing example.

Your story should be overflowing with personality. Create copy that makes people want to get to know you as a person and the journey you’ve been on.

People don’t want to know someone who knows it all and gets it right first time. No one relates to that. Life is messy and complicated, and often plans don’t work out.

So, tell them that story.

Your characters should be striving to grow and must be doing everything within their power to succeed – despite facing setbacks.

 

 

Where Do I Find Inspiration for My Story?

If you want to create a genuine storytelling marketing example, you have to think about why you own your business.

Yes, it’s obviously to make money but, why else? Think about why you’ve formed the brand you have, what was your reasoning? The answers to these questions should fuel the plot of your story.

If customers can understand why you exist, you’ll build trust with them. You’re inadvertently answering questions like; why should I buy from you?

Let’s Take It to the Next Level

When you hear a fascinating story, you want to share it with your friends and family. This is what you should aim for with your storytelling marketing example!

Your story should be so valuable that people want to tell others about it.

Here’s our advice on how to create a story worthy of going viral:

  • Consider building a personal brand: Your story should be full of your own personality and the foundational values of your business.
  • Utilize social media: Your story has the potential to spread like wildfire on social media. Give yourself the best possible chance of this happening by utilizing your social media accounts. You can post quotes, anecdotes, extracts, etc. It’s up to you.
  • Continually tell your story: Get into the habit of internalizing your story. Ingrain it into your team that this story is the foundation of the business. This should feature in every element of your marketing campaigns.
  • Get your customers to tell your story: a sterling customer testimonial is worth its weight in gold. This reinforces your brand’s authenticity and proves you provide customers tangible results. The more places and people potential customers hear your story, the more their confidence in you grows.
  • Encourage storytelling wherever possible: Eventually, your brand will continue growing until it becomes a household name. When this happens, your brand’s story will become entrenched in society. This is why it’s imperative to continually tell your story accurately and in a way that reflects the beliefs and values of your company.

We’re confident that applying this advice will result in a robust and profitable brand.

Final Thoughts

Your story lays the foundation for your entire businesses way of life. Honor how your brand came to be and look at how these values can help expand your business.

Your story should live on, even when you’re ready to step down. It should be your businesses greatest brand-building asset.

So, make it happen.

Would You to Learn More about Storytelling?

If you would like to learn more about marketing through storytelling, please feel free to reach out to our professional team, and someone will be more than happy to assist you.

Alternatively, please feel free to check out our services page to see how we could help strengthen your business’s branding.

Or, if you’re looking for further inspiration, please check out some of our previous work.

 

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