How To Boost Your Marketing With Storytelling
Everyone loves a good story. In fact, we always have.
The art of storytelling dates back to the caveman era, when cave drawings were used to communicate with others. Eventually, people passed down stories to younger generations to create traditions. You can now find those stories in print, films, and at your holiday dinner table.
Today, we have more ways to share stories than ever before, and storytelling still plays a role in our everyday lives. Anytime you watch a commercial or read an “About Us” page, you’re listening to a company’s story. If your business isn’t using storytelling to connect with your customers, now is the time to start!
When it comes to harnessing the power of storytelling, you likely have more tools at your disposal than you realize.
Here’s how you can use your website, data, and advertising to boost your business:
Your “About Us” Page Frames Your Brand Identity
Take a look at your business’s “About” page.
It probably talks about what you do, but does it talk about why you do it?
Does it talk about how you started?
People like brands they can relate to. They’re drawn to companies that “get” them. Take your website visitors through your business’s development: the problem you discovered, the solution you developed, and how your business continues to solve that problem.
You’ll need to keep your story relatable for your audience to envision themselves using your product. As you write your “About” page, think about what your life was like before you started your business. Before you came up with your life-changing solution, you were just like them!
Your brand identity will only be made stronger by adding a moral stance to your story. You developed your product so no one else would have to suffer the way they did before, and your audience should know that.
Your “About” page should make it clear that your goal is to fight the injustices your customers face, because your business is more than just a money-making machine — it’s an entity that stands with its customers.
Wait, what injustices do my customers face?
The answer doesn’t have to be political.
Shaving razors shouldn’t leave you with nicks and razor burns. Jeans should actually fit properly (what a concept!). You shouldn’t have to wait days for your bank to process your purchases, only to overdraft because you didn’t know how much money you had.
The injustices your customers face go back to the reason you started your business in the first place: the problem you sought to solve.
Data Storytelling Showcases Your Business’s Progress
Your numbers are more than just numbers — they’re lives changed through your products. As you visualize your data through infographics and charts, your impact is easier to see.
It isn’t enough to simply slap your data onto a pie chart and call it a day, though. You have to explain why it matters. To do that, you’ll need to combine your numbers with both visuals and a narrative.
Suppose your company sold 10,000 water filtration systems this year — an increase of 8,000 over last year’s sales. After showing this increase on a graph, your narrative could look something like this:
In 2018, our company sold 2,000 water filtration systems to customers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. This past year, we brought clean, drinkable water to 10,000 more households. As we reach more people, we can further our mission to make it safe to drink tap water again.
No matter how stellar your statistics are, data storytelling cannot be done without that narrative. Neuroscientists have discovered that emotions play a larger part in our decision-making process than logic. In fact, people who have difficulty processing emotions may have a significantly impaired decision-making ability, even when it comes to making basic choices.
Even people without a neurological condition need to hear a story to connect with data.
One study showed that while 63% of people remembered stories, only 5% remembered statistics. Another study showed that a Save the Children campaignraised more money when their brochure featured the story of Rokia, a 7-year-old from Mali. People who received a brochure with just statistics donated less than half on average than those who read Rokia’s story.
In a nutshell: your data isn’t your story, but it can help you tell your story.
Ads with Stories Send Stronger Messages
When your advertisements tell a story, you show your audience that you understand who they are, who they want to be, and who they don’t want to be. This is true whether you use print, social media, or video ads to promote your business.
Every story has a lesson to be learned from it. The lesson in your story will encourage your audience to act. Even when if you’re producing a commercial, your story doesn’t have to be in-depth to include an important takeaway.
Consider those Geico commercials where people talk about how they saved 15% on their car insurance by switching. The story is exactly the line in the script: “I saved 15% on my car insurance by switching to Geico.”
The lesson to be learned from it is that Geico saves its customers’ money. Now, think back to those old commercials that feature people messing up basic tasks, followed by those same people performing them with ease using the advertised product. The story is of a person who used to be unable to hold a spray bottle — now, they can clean their house more quickly and without spills.
“Don’t be like that person. Instead, use our product.”
If you’re making a Facebook ad, you can still tell stories without making a video. Instead of coming up with a new story for a commercial script, take advantage of the stories your business has already created. With your customers’ permission, feature them on in a social media ad.
For inspiration, check out your local car dealership’s Facebook page, since car dealerships use this method all the time. You’ll likely find photos of happy customers with a blurb about who that car was for.
When they create these Facebook posts, what could have simply been additional sales are now stories about how that dealership helped Mary pick a birthday gift for her son, how a seasoned sales rep helped Joe get a better trade-in deal, or how the Andersons found a minivan that’s safe enough for their growing family.
Other customers read those ads and think, “this is a company that cares about their customers.” As you create your own ads, think about the stories you could make out of everyday encounters with customers!
Storytelling is a great way to show customers that you understand them, align with them, and want to help them.
Every business has a story to tell — how are you telling yours?