Get Your Story Straight: How to Use Storytelling to Elevate Your Content and Get More Sales

content-marketing There is no better way to connect with someone than to tell a story. A good writer can use a story like a magician’s wand, and can stun and mesmerize audiences to great effect. What we’re going to talk about today is an effective way to elevate your content through the use of powerful storytelling. Using a story in a marketing frame is far from new, but its power is often overlooked or underutilized. Most examples of brand storytelling are just poor. We’re going to look at why you need to integrate a good story in your marketing, and how to go about doing that.

Why Do You Need a Story for Your Content , Anyway? 

I remember watching the Superbowl a few years ago, and something intriguing appeared on the screen. It was an ad for Google, which was peculiar, as the tech giant very rarely used TV advertising as a marketing medium. But the rarity of its TV advertising was overpowered by the vibrant clarity of its message and the sheer brilliance of its execution. It told a very succinct and charming tale of an adventurous young lad who embarks on a study abroad trip to France and meets the woman of his dreams. Here it is- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS4Lb-ie4Lc

Not a single word was uttered in the ad. In fact, we didn’t even see our protagonist’s face. We only saw the Google search bar. The search terms that our protagonist entered told the story endearingly and effectively. The premise hooked my attention, and the execution of the storytelling swiftly reeled it in. I was mesmerized. No product was sold. And, honestly, Google didn’t even need the ad, as it was already the world’s premier search engine. But, when you look at the ad more closely, the primary goal wasn’t to sell more products or increase brand awareness (although I am sure that may very well be the ulterior motive, and understandably so)—no, the mission was to connect emotionally with the viewer. This emotional connection, however trivial or silly, builds trust, familiarity and, most importantly, loyalty. You won’t have to worry about jamming the product down people’s throats. If trust, familiarity, and loyalty are built, the product can sell itself.

Many content marketers misunderstand the power of a good story. They neglect and reject the use of storytelling, and if they do have a story to tell, they convey the message clumsily. Crafting a powerful marketing message that corresponds with your core ideals, yet also engaging the average reader/viewer/listener enough that he will become interested in your company and your products requires a deft hand. But accomplishing that is far from impossible.

The Rules of Good Storytelling

Be as authentic as possible. If you’re thinking about producing a story for your marketing campaign, you may be wondering if you should use real or fictional tales. Well, both of them work, so use whatever is the best fit for your company. I know you’re probably thinking, “But… What about authenticity? How can fiction be honest?”  Your job is to craft an interesting story that matches with the image that your company is trying to sell. You’re not a documentarian for the History Channel. If the “real” story you want to tell is as dry as stale bread, you’re not obligated to use it—in fact, you should definitely shelf it.

Being authentic isn’t about giving real life stories. It’s about sticking to your core values and communicating those ideals in a palatable and engaging way. To do otherwise would be inauthentic and it would render your marketing efforts fruitless and fraudulent.

If you don’t have a real life story at your disposal, simply create something that conveys what you want. If the story you use is fictional (like Google’s Parisian Love ad, for example), simply make it obvious that it isn’t based on real life.

Know what type of story you’re going to tell. Is it going to be a true story about one of your customers? Is it about how your company got started? Is it a fictional story that will appeal emotionally to your audience? You need to decide what type of story you’re going to tell and stick with it. Starting out, you need to dedicate your efforts on one single, fascinating story. Don’t switch the story. Get it straight and stick with it until it has run its course.

Execute the Story. First thing you need to decide: How is this story going to be delivered (Is it going to be a series of blog posts, videos, etc.) How is it going to be told? Once you decide the “how” of your story’s execution, craft the message. Some tips on creating your story.

  1. Have a good headline, title or opening line. Start out with a bang or your story will die with a whimper.
  2. Make the narration exciting and as easy-to-digest as possible. Don’t be too verbose. If the story seems uninteresting, your audience will skim and skip it.
  3. Make your characters as memorable as possible. Your audience needs to be able to identify with your characters. Do some research on your target market. What are their interests? What are their desires and necessities? Knowing the answers to these questions will better enable you to craft more relatable and interesting characters.

The Big Picture

Brand storytelling is one of the most powerful indirect marketing devices that exists. And to not take advantage of it is foolish. Your content marketing and social media efforts could be elevated with the use of intriguing, engaging stories. The goal is not to get an immediate bump in sales, it’s to start a relationship with a possibly skeptical or on-the-fence audience, so that they will eventually integrate into your sales cycle. You want your brand ingrained in their minds; when they think about your niche or market, your company needs to be the first to appear in their minds.

Don’t underestimate the power of an emotional connection with your audience. If you escape the noise and stand out from the crowd, you will see a difference.

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Joseph Riviello

Joseph L. Riviello is the CEO and Founder of Zen Agency. Joe's agency builds websites and web applications that attract, engage, and convert. Joe has over 30 years of experience in entrepreneurship and he is an expert digital marketing strategist who specializes in conversion-centric e-commerce experiences and cutting-edge solutions that maximize growth and profit. Check out Joe featured on: Business.com, Redbooth.com, Kabbage.com, MaterialDesignBlog.com

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