Marketing and Stories.
We all know the difference between a great story and a list of product features or details. A great story grabs our attention and stays with us. A list of product features and details doesn’t. Stories are memorable and for that reason alone they have a big role in marketing.
Storytelling is unique to humans.
People tell stories. It’s what we do. Humans have been telling stories for millions of years. It’s likely we all have a bit of storytelling DNA in us. We tell stories everyday.
You tell a coworker what you did on the weekend. You explain to the salesclerk why you’re making a return. Catching up with a good friend is a festival of storytelling. Meeting with pals at the pub is storytelling – with a pint or two to help get you started.
Storytelling is big business.
These days storytelling is serious business. Tell a great story and your brand shines – your business grows. So it’s time to get your stories more than just straight. You want them polished and professional. But don’t panic, the basics of effective storytelling haven’t changed. That’s why the myths and fairy tales of yesteryear are still popular today.
Ready to craft the best story for your brand? Here are 7 tips to start you off:
1. Don’t overthink a story.
Stories are for sharing. Don’t keep them in your head. Put them down on paper. Find your keyboard and flesh some ideas out on-screen. Try telling your story out loud and have someone listen. Are they engaged? How are they responding? An individual’s reaction is a great gauge of shareability and effectiveness. The best stories elicit a feeling – an emotional response. A laugh, a tear, a smile, anger, sadness, relief, joy, stress. Which leads us to…
2. Have an emotion in mind.
Emotion is a powerful way to reach customers. Think about what emotional response you’d like your story to elicit. Creating emotion isn’t hard. Use a classic problem/solution story. A problem exists. It creates stress, anger or even sadness. Your brand offers the solution. Suddenly relief, joy and happiness are found.
3. Use a basic story paradigm.
It’s not cheating when you use one of the tried and tested story structures. There are lots to choose from. We like the hero’s journey. Remember the hero is your customer. He’s the underdog we’ll all be rooting for. Outline a problem your customer has. Show how the problem causes stress or conflict. Then have your product or service be the solution that solves the problem- ends the stress and conflict. Our hero succeeds but only with your help. We remember your hero’s journey to success more than any list of features and benefits.
4. Have an audience in mind for your story.
Remember you’re not creating this story for yourself. Don’t just include what pleases you. What buyer persona are you appealing to? Do you have picture of that buyer in your head? Be as specific as possible. Imagine their age, gender, hairstyle, apparel choices, and favorite pastimes. Get a handle on their powerful psychographic and demographic information. When you have a specific audience in mind it is easier to get the authentic details right.
5. Add sensory words.
What words evoke your sense of taste? Smell? Sight? Touch? Hearing? Words like loud, prickly, sticky, perfume, sour and bright make you experience something immediately. They’re evocative. They bring a story to life. How much do you feel when using jargon and needlessly complex words? Not very much – so use jargon in moderation.
6. Start with a true story.
If generating a story from scratch seems hard, go with what you know. How are your customers using your product or service to solve their problems? What stories are your customers telling about you? Employee stories are a great starting point too. True stories come with lots of details. We work to shorten, simplify stories and keep what connects emotionally with the target audience.
7. Let people share your story.
When you hear a great story you want to share it. That’s human nature and social media in a nutshell. So set your story up for sharing. Using LinkedIn, Facebook and Youtube may not be in our DNA but they’re not hard to use for sharing great stories. So get sharing.
What is the Switch Video Story?
Our founder made a short, simple animated video describing a switchgrass fuel pellet. The pellets were a flop. But the video inspired our first customer to ask us to make an animated video. Switch Video was born. It’s been over 10 years and 1100 videos since the last pellet was produced. We’re evidence of the power of animated video to fuel the growth of a business.