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Let’s be honest, we’re all tired of annoying banners, ads, cold calls and numerous newsletters. We ignore content irritants which offer us to buy, click or watch something in a too straight forward way. These methods don’t trigger any emotions except for irritation. That’s why inbound marketing overshadowed traditional outbound marketing techniques.  Of course, marketers won’t refuse using traditional marketing tools but fortunately, we’re living in the epoch of content marketing. Today we will cope with one of the most powerful marketing tool — Storytelling. It’s an already established tactic and it’s hard to predict when this method will leave all the content marketing trends top lists.

Storytelling Concept

What brings us together, calls the strongest emotions, motivates and inspires us? I guess stories. We tell stories for different reasons. How to explain something technical and be sure a listener will get the message? Tell a story. Storytelling helps to imbibe new information or an abstract concept in an easy way. For example, you’re preparing a report or speech and there are a lot of complex data. If you convey it as it is, your message will reach the very few. Match your words with a case study. Instead of picturing the technical side of a question, make emphasis on problem, solution and benefits.

Storytelling is an ultimate language which unites people of different religions, nationalities, believes and preferences. We’re all prone to empathy, we share almost the same values and feelings. People from all over the world feel happy, angry, curious, sad etc.

We like stories about heroes, underdogs, personal self-establishment, success. These stories drive us to action, motivate and inspire us. Brand storytelling brings companies and clients together. It helps you to look more alive in the eyes of your customers. They see that your staff aren’t robots but real people, you have the same problems and feelings like the other humans.

What Is a Good Storytelling?

Brand Storytelling is often misconstrued by marketing specialists because I’d call it art rather a technique (I know I did it before). You need a great creativity, imagination, writing skills and time for practice as you won’t become proficient in it overnight. Storytelling isn’t a boring 10.000 – word article about your brand, sales goals, “cool” achievements. It isn’t boasting about your company, telling about your certificates, prizes and world-famous partners. It won’t cause any emotions, it’s dull and boring. Even 6 words can be more thrilling than a book consisting of 100 or more pages.

Storytelling isn’t talking about yourself but making your audience to talk about you more. It’s about who you are, why you are doing what you are doing, how you help people to deal with their pains. Tell your audience what motivates you to work, what are the values of your company, what challenges you faced and how they influenced the experience you create for your clientele.

A good story should be:

  • Entertaining — to keep the audience engaged and interested in the text.
  • Educational — to generate curiosity and expand the readers’ background.
  • Universal — to match different people and let their emotions out.
  • Well-structured — to convey a message properly.

Every story, book or film has three main elements: set-up, confrontation and resolution. We can apply the same composition to the brand storytelling.

three-act-structure Storytelling in Marketing: The House That Jack Built

Let’s take a look at this scheme through the plot of Little Red Riding Hood.

Set-up — Little Red Riding Hood prepared a cake for her grandmother. She needs to walk through the dangerous woods to deliver the food.

Confrontation — she meets the Big Bad Wolf, who was eager to know where she is going and what she was carrying. The Wolf runs to her Grandmother, eats her, puts her clothes and glasses, climbs into her bed. When the girl reveals him, the Wolf eats her too.

Resolution — lumberjack rescues Red Riding Hood and Grandmother; the Wolf is defeated.

The resolution of the brand’s story should also contain a call-to-action. In this case, it might be “call a lumberjack if you’re in troubles”.

How to Start Writing a Story?

It’s not so easy how it may seem. As an organization, you have a lot of facts, messages and data you want to deliver to the audience. How to combine all of these elements and create a good, concise and catchy story? You need to establish an organized creative process.

Let’s compare the initial stages of the process of building a house. First of all, you need concrete to lay the foundation of the building. Concrete is your buyer persona.  Take time to define your target audience, in order to clear up who will benefit from your story and be interested in it. It’s the preparative stage of brand storytelling. For example, if your clients are housewives it doesn’t mean that they will enjoy a story about children or household chores. Quite the opposite, they may be captivated by stories that will help them to plunge into another world. Only after this step, you can move forward to the next one.

Now you have concrete, it’s time to lay the foundation — the core message of your story. What is your aim? To attract more potential buyers? To boost sales? To show your product? Think over your storytelling goal and write it down in one sentence. For example, I want people to share my story, I want to tell our success story to motivate customers, I want people to buy our products, I want people to find the solution to the problem.

The next step is to build walls, roof, in short, to take the form of a usual house. On this stage, you should define your call-to-action. It’s quite similar to the core message. Your goal should lead to a certain action: to buy a product, subscribe, share.

Now we should do the cosmetic works — story medium. Choose the way you’ll present your story. It can be a written story. Cheap and cheerful one, as you need only a laptop/PC, try-hards can use even a pen with paper. If you write blogs and articles this is your variant. A spoken story needs more practice as your speaker should be proficient in public speaking. Spoken stories can be presented in the forms of a presentation, workshop or webinar. Undoubtedly, this form of storytelling is more lively as the audience can see and feel the emotions of the speaker. Audio stories have the form of podcasts. The only thing you need is just to record the voice of the speaker. For the dessert, we have digital stories. You can use a wide range of tools to create it: videos, tests, games, animation, infographics or even a combination of all of them. All in all, it doesn’t matter what form of storytelling you’ll choose, the foundation of your house is much more important than cosmetics.

Ok, we’ve built the house, but inside it’s a little bit empty. It’s time to feather our nest and start writing a story to convey the core message and call-to-action, taking into account our target audience and narrative form. Don’t forget about the storytelling structure: set-up, confrontation and resolution. Introduce the main character and the situation. During his journey, he should face several obstacles and find a solution to the problem (your product or service). In the end, you show how the character benefits from your solution.

Finally, we have a lovely snug home and we can invite guests. Promote your story on different platforms: social media, YouTube, Medium, corporate blog etc. Show everyone what a nice house you’ve built and get more engagement, likes, shares and conversion rates.

Everyone loves stories. Storytelling is the sincerest way to boost your sales, attract new customers, gain brand awareness and surpass your competitors. If you’ll find emotional leverages on your audience, you’ll see the power of this form of art. Your first attempt can fail and it’s ok. It’s impossible to reach success in one night. Take time for practice and you’ll climb the content marketing summit.