Storytelling. It has the power to persuade, sell or even forge loyalty. But used incorrectly it can bore a customer, bring in feelings of mistrust or cast doubt about the product or service you have to offer. The ability to tell a story is key throughout marketing – so how do you pitch it correctly? In today’s article, we’ll be sharing our knowledge on how to craft a great story in marketing and create a strategy to support it.
What storytelling is and how it shows up in different channels
Whether it’s on a social media post, blog, a sales call or landing page, telling your customer about your product or service is key to the sales process. But what secures their emotional and financial investment are the narratives they can relate to and attach to. Seeing part of themselves reflected in the solution you’re offering and levelling with the core values of the business.
So how does this play out in terms of the stories you tell? Well, they should speak on two different levels…
- Your brand story: what makes your brand unique, how did the business come to being and your core values & mission statement.
- Your solution story: what problem does your product or service provide a solution for, what makes it different from other options and what outcomes does it create?
These two aspects of your business story should be consistent throughout your marketing – woven throughout different channels to create your brand voice and put across your key messages. Let’s think about some brands which have a very clear brand and solution story.
Apple. Their brand story is one of mystique. From the way, they present their products in store, showing only one of each product, to their seminal annual releases which have a fan-like following. They have created a story that positions them as a must-have tech brand. One which is lauded by millions, creating an ecosystem around their products.
In terms of solutions, Steve Jobs was famous for his product storytelling. Following a set-up, confrontation and resolution format. First, he would introduce the problem and the context surrounding the product. Then how Apple overcame those challenges. And the resolution? The new product that is the result of the whole process. He carefully chooses specific aspects of the product to focus on that are highly relevant to the audience. Not going into too much detail and giving away just enough of the story that customers feel enticed to buy. This also creates a level of authority – encouraging buyers to trust that Apple understands their current issues more than any other competitor on the market.
The collaboration of these two storytelling aspects makes for a highly powerful marketing machine. And the same techniques can be used for just about any business or brand. It’s just about choosing the right stories to tell and the right places to tell them.
How to strategise your stories
Now we have a better handle on what storytelling looks like in marketing, let’s get to grips with how to apply this to your business. The key is striking the balance between authenticity and what your target audience wants to hear. But how do you achieve this? Here’s our 4 step plan for creating a story strategy for your brand.
First, you have to really define what you want the outcome to be. Do you want your potential customer to buy, review, move to the next stage of the sales process or simply have a greater sense of trust in you? The key to this is knowing exactly who your market is, what their pain points are and why they would invest in your product or service. Once you have this in place you can work backwards.
What stories will make an impact on your customer and help to push them toward your desired outcome? Think about the two different layers – the brand stories and the solution-specific stories. Match up your different customer groups with a brand and solution layer, tailoring the latter to their need state.
What’s also important to consider is WHO is telling your stories. Stories come in all shapes and forms, from those you tell yourself on your website, social and emails, to testimonials, reviews or how-to videos. Be sure to include at least some of the storytelling from a different perspective as this will add authenticity and authority. After all,, there’s nothing better than someone else singing the praises of your service or business. Especially, if that person is aligned with your target market.
Channel & format
Now is choosing where and how to tell those stories. Again this should be led by your target market – where do they spend time online and what sort of content do they consume?
Let’s take a millennial-focused skincare brand for example. The brand story about the business’s mission and history may sit on your website, across your social media feed (in descriptions and the language you use posts) and in the blurb submitted to influencers that are working with the brand. Telling the story of a gap in the market for clean beauty products, started after creating an at-home business in lockdown to soothe acne scarring.
Your solution-focused stories may be primarily on Instagram and TikTok – creating specific content which digs into a key pain point of the millennial skincare buyers such as price, effectiveness or the use of too many harsh chemicals.
This layered approach over time will develop a well-rounded brand story and give millennial skincare buyers a reason to purchase.
What’s important here is to ensure the broader brand layer is consistent throughout all communication and the solution-specific layer is tailored to the target market. So when looking at the content you might be producing, select and craft with both of these contexts in mind.
Finally, we have sharing. An organic following is a gold standard in marketing – loyal followers who are already somewhat trusting or interested in your brand. And whilst it’s great to utilise them – through email or on organic socials, you can use tactical paid marketing to dial in on the solution-specific stories. Creating hyper-targeted ads on platforms your target market uses. For example, if you’re selling eco-friendly high-performance sportswear, targeted ads on fitness/sustainability YouTube channels could be a great option.
To wrap up, what’s key is to map out the key messages you want to put across and the stories you want your brand to be known for. Once you have these secure, weave them into your marketing and do so consistently and with deliberate intention. And you’ll be onto a winner. We hope that this article has given you some food for thought and a push in the right direction when it comes to storytelling in marketing. But, if you want more assistance with this and to make sure you’re pitching it just right, get in touch with our team. We’d be happy to help.