How Storytelling in Marketing Generates Happy Endings

Think back to when you were a kid. Did you love having your parents read you bedtime stories? Do you have fond memories of crowding around grandma while she read a few tales from her collection? There’s an important lesson to be learned here: People love stories. There are many different languages in the world, but there are stories told in every one.

The human love for stories can be harnessed in your business. It can play various roles, from recruiting new talent to improving brand awareness. However, marketing can benefit tremendously. Storytelling works with customers’ psyches, making them feel connected to your company and increasing the chance they’ll remember your brand and/or products.

Harnessing the power of storytelling for marketing purposes is one of the best things any business can do if they want to see growth.

The Human Brain Craves Stories

Our brains crave stories – this is scientific fact. The brain has a more difficult time focusing on straight data, information, and textbook-style material. These kinds of text stimulate the language part of your brain but don’t strongly affect comprehension or increase emotional levels.

On the flip side, scans of the brain when someone reads a story shows that the brain is highly stimulated. Not only do the language sections of the brain light up, so do other parts that deal with emotion, whether that’s sadness, happiness, relief, or anger. As a result of this deep engagement, it’s much easier to remember stories and anything associated with them.

Examples of Great Stories in Marketing.

Major insurance companies are great at telling stories. If somebody mentions Progressive, you’ll automatically think of Flo and her antics. When you hear Allstate, you’ll think of the character “Mayhem” who destroys everything in his path. Aflac will spur memories of a duck doing things ducks don’t normally do, and Geico will remind you of a gecko acting like a business associate.

These stories make customers feel like they know the company, which is extremely important for conversions. A Neilsen study shows that 92 percent of customers like to have a personal connection with the companies they purchase from. Stories are a catalyst for that, and companies should take advantage of this kind of marketing to increase traffic and generate greater leads.

Implementing Storytelling in Marketing

Storytelling has its perks, but a lame story won’t get you anywhere. Storytelling requires a solid marketing strategy, so here are some helpful tips:

Structure Your Story

Most storytellers use Freytag’s pyramid to structure their stories – a pattern of introducing conflict, then following a series of battles in the rising action until it reaches the climax where the conflict is most intense. Afterwards, there’s falling action as everything is tied up, followed by the resolution that makes things right again.

This is the best way to structure stories because it’s familiar and it works. Though it might seem intimidating, using this structure doesn’t have to result in a long story. Creative writers can draft a good story in just a few sentences, creating a commercial or blog post that effectively captures attention and entertains the audience.

Focus on the Audience

Any story you tell should be closely aligned with audience values. Operating on their belief system will create a deeper connection and make your company appear more customer-oriented. For example, if your target audience is primarily men in their 30s and 40s, using sports-themed stories would be a great move. If your target audience is moms with children at home, a story depicting humorous, everyday disasters and solutions could catch their attention.

Through this method, you can sharpen your brand identity with unique and competitive differentiation. Your brand will begin to take on a personality, sharpening the connection you and your customers crave.

Tell True Stories

Nowhere does it say that you have to make something up to write good stories. True stories are often just as compelling as fiction. In some cases, they can be more so. True stories create possibilities in the reader’s mind. They are relatable and awe-inspiring.

Look for stories that are local to your business and/or relevant to your topic. These stories will light something inside your customers and enhance your brand’s power to convert.

About Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2 Responses to How Storytelling in Marketing Generates Happy Endings

  1. Nick says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the useful information. I have just launched a new website and your marketing tips are very useful to me!

    Regards.

  2. Great blog subject Larry,

    I have always believed that having story led content helps keep your customers engaged and will stay loyal.

    Thanks

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