If I asked you to tell me about your best friend, how would you do it? Would you use a PowerPoint presentation with slides of bullet points? Or, would you tell me stories of long talks and adventures and other shared moments? Obviously, the first option is ridiculous and you would never use it to tell someone how great your best friend is, yet as marketers, it’s a trap we all fall into now and then when we’re designing our marketing materials. I am here to talk about how to harness the power of storytelling in your marketing.
There’s an alternative though: content marketing that incorporates storytelling. As humans, we all love a good story—whether it’s the latest blockbuster film, a novel, or just an anecdote from a friend—we connect with stories better than any other medium.
The science backs this up: our brains are far more active when listening to a story than when confronted with that PowerPoint slideshow I referenced earlier. When we hear facts, one part of our brain is activated, but when we hear stories, several parts of our brain are activated at once—meaning that we experience the stories as we hear them and they stay in our minds long after the initial telling.
How can you harness the power of storytelling in your marketing? Infuse your materials with emotion and personality. Think about the Geico Gekko or Allstate’s Mayhem—with these characters, Geico and Allstate injected personality and humor into what is essentially a very boring product, and created engaging stories. You don’t need a fictional mascot to tell your story though—use your employees to tell your stories, or use a third-person point of view. Basically, just create characters that your audience can connect with on an emotional level.
Remember the old adage that “a picture is worth 1000 words?” Don’t forget to incorporate visuals into your storytelling efforts. Sometimes a single photo can say more than pages and pages of text and it is easy for people to make an emotional connection with an image. There’s a reason that infographics are so popular!
Think you don’t have the space in your marketing materials to tell a compelling story? Consider this tweet-sized story by Ernest Hemmingway: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” It doesn’t get much more brief (or poignant) than that!
Disney is the grand master of storytelling companies, but even if you’re not a multi-billion dollar film company, you can still use the same techniques Disney uses to tell their brand story.
Content marketing is about creating content so good that people want to click “send” and share your stories with their friends. How will you unleash the power of storytelling in your organization? Sound off in the comments!