Once Upon a Time in a Marketing Campaign…

Customers expect to be entertained. As such, strategic storytelling should be an integral part of your brand marketing. Stories provide context and meaning to people across different walks of life. Brand storytelling is the sharing and compilation of the feelings, relationships and attributes of your brand. It inspires people to act. You could also consider storytelling as, “content based on experience, facts, and dedication rather than just being quality content and leaves and impression on the heart of people.”

Effective stories are memorable, persuasive, and engaging and 92% of consumers want to see ads that feel like a story. Our brains are more engaged by storytelling than by basic facts because it provides a more experiential interaction. Thus, it makes sense to present your brand in the same format that our brains use on a day-in and day-out basis.

Storytelling is a fundamental part of being human and shares the personality of your brand. It allows an organization to build its personality to better create a connection with its customers. A realtor who tells his own experience of moving his school-aged children across the state speaks to consumers more than a “Top 10 Tips for Moving with Kids” blog can. Showcasing your brand as the lead character reflects you as a market and thought leader and helps establish an emotional connection. Involving the audience emotionally also increases loyalty. Just be sure to play to audience emotions with the purpose of relevancy, not for the sake of tugging on heart strings. It has to be genuine.

Storytelling can increase audience growth because stories help prospects and customers learn more about your brand and how you think about the world. Through stories, businesses can build trust and help us feel like we know their brand and what they stand for. Encourage repeat visitors by telling a story…in…parts. Everyone wants to know what happens next after the teenager is blindly backing up his car and the cleverer insurance company will hold that resolution until the next ad comes out.

People want to buy from brands that fit with their values and beliefs. People who buy camping gear are probably supportive of environmental causes, clean water or air, protecting forestlands and so on. Base stories on your target audience’s belief system.

As with other marketing efforts, the audience should be purposefully focused on people for whom the content is relevant and useful. A brand needs to understand its target audience and what will appeal to them on an emotional level. Your stories need to have a relatable subject matter told in a voice that exemplifies the brand’s culture.

Powerful stories are increasingly being told in video form. Show, don’t tell, to appeal to the human brain’s propensity to process image more quickly than words. Attention grabbing, interesting, unusual, and unexpected visuals are important. Show your story with bold, attractive, and original videos and images.

Stories come in different shapes and sizes. Demonstrating the ability to problem-solve is a common goal of marketing campaigns. When accomplished through storytelling, it should be audience-centered, unique, helpful, and relevant. This requires a focus on what people want to hear, see, and share. Analyze the content that your target audience is consuming and find ways to solve their problems in a way that sets you apart from your competitors. Share stories that show you have identified and understand a common problem and that your brand has a solution via one of your products or services and how that, consequently, makes the world a better place. At least for that consumer.

Another structure is a story that shares the “why” behind your organization and behind what you do. This can help consumers see themselves in your story. It tells viewers who your brand is and what it has to offer them. Your content should reflect your brand’s values as well as what makes you unique. Stories should always be guided by your brand purpose. Don’t just tell stories about people using your brand, tell about the people who make up your brand – your employees, your founder, etc. and what impact working for the organization has had on them.

Be authentic, understand what your audience is passionate about and encourage customers to care. Authenticity is key, it makes people feel. The stronger the connection, the stronger the sales. Play to people’s frustrations, fears, hopes, etc. Share real experiences and show what makes your brand unique. Incorporate real life examples of people interacting with your brand to meet life’s challenges or to solve life’s problems. Create a story that shares the testimony of a client telling how her furnace broke down in the middle of a snowstorm and your HVAC company staff came out to fix the system and how she can’t believe they brought hot chocolate for her kids – authentic and emotional.


Data can tell an impactful story when it shows consumers information about their needs and different solutions to those needs.

Mini-ads can create a story in parts. They leave people wanting more and coming back to find out what happens next. This format also plays well to today’s shorter attention spans.

User-generated or customer-led storytelling can increase engagement and build trust. Think guest blogs or a social media “takeover” day. Individuals’ stories are more powerful than your content.

Philanthropic storytelling shares how your company gives back or about things it does to make the world a better place.

Immersive storytelling with the assistance of virtual reality provides a sensory experience that not only emphasizes your brand but also creates intense connections with consumers.

While many of us never want to go back into an English classroom, there are some story basics to remember. You need a beginning, middle, and end with a key takeaway and, it goes without saying, correct spelling and grammar. Your story should have a relatable protagonist or hero. Create one with whom the target audience can commiserate. The lead character provides a human element to your brand with which consumers can connect.

Establish the place or setting. Then your story needs to introduce something to hold the viewer or reader’s interest like suspense or conflict – endured to achieve the solution, of course. Chronicle the conflict or tension, and then present the resolution. You can also, very subtly and indirectly present a call-to-action.

Tactics that can help you create useful and engaging content:

Entertaining/moving                         Useful                                        Detail a positive user experience

Educational                                             Immersive                               Infographics or other visual data

Seven elements of visual storytelling (Kelly Hungerford):

Design that is captivating and interesting

Personalization in regards to the platform or channel used for delivery.

Usefulness – how it solves a challenge or problem.

Personality of your brand.

Storytelling – the conversation, as a whole.

Share-worthiness and real time.

Avoid business jargon and be sure to define any terms you feel you have to include. Use consumer-friendly language instead. Your stories should also avoid being overly promotional to make the content feel more personal. They are not about pushing your brand but rather about the consumers and how your brand provides value. People buy the stories that a brand represents.

The value of storytelling comes from the trust, interest, and positive association consumers make between the stories and your brand. Well-crafted stories will build a community of customers who care about your organization.

 Be sure to meet the audience on the channels where they spend time and focus on the metrics that inform your practice, that help you evaluate your efforts. To get started with your storytelling marketing, contact Strategy Driven Marketing today.