Human beings live through stories. When politicians run for office, they tell stories about why people should vote for them. When people look back on life, they take their memories and turn them into a narrative as they make sense of it all.
The same definitely applies in business, where the most successful brands tend to be the most compelling storytellers. But how can you turn your products, company image and history into a storyline that customers simply can’t ignore?
At greatcontent, we understand the value of stories – and we know how to tell them in ways that demand attention. So let’s explore how this works, and why it matters to your company.
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Put (very) simply, content marketers seek to use written, video, audio or any other type of content to strategically nurture audiences. As brands engage audiences, individual customers start to form lasting connections with certain products or services.
Content marketers seek to strengthen this bond and use it to drive consumer behaviour and actions which result in sales (or conversions).
Now that we’ve got a basic definition out of the way, let’s unpack where storytelling fits into this.
Nothing gets through to people like a well-told story. Our brains are hard-wired to view and understand strings of events as coherent stories. And we are much more likely to make purchases if that action fits into a story of our own.
Take the wellness industry: brands that succeed aim to incorporate their smoothies, supplements, superfoods or skin products into the stories that people tell about their bodies and lifestyles. When products seem like the next chapter in a story of improved health, vitality and longevity, they tend to fly off the shelves.
Stories bind audiences to brands. They hold the attention of customers and encourage sales. But they do more than that. They also provide a “meme” that spreads organically as people retell the story. (Think of how Apple products are considered in the public consciousness and how easily these devices fit into people’s story of “I am a productive, successful, creative type that means business!”).
The key takeaway is that if you aren’t capable of weaving appealing stories, your content marketing likely won’t hit the spot.
So, how can you create content which tells your unique story in a way that captures the attention of your audience and drives sales?
One way is to learn from the masters. There are plenty of good examples to learn from, but here are a couple that are particularly clever:
Jack Daniels hasn’t always had a great reputation with whiskey fans. But in recent years, the company has boosted its brand by telling stories about its Tennessee roots.
Their adverts now tell millions of people about the history of Lynchburg and the traditions of the company, turning a huge beverage manufacturer into a relatable, seemingly human-scale business.
By relating its products to human tales about history and perseverance, JD almost makes you forget they are advertising hard liquor.
Accommodation rental site AirBnB is another brand which is using stories to great effect. In this case, the company realised the close link between travel and storytelling; after all, when we go abroad, we love to tell people back home about our adventures.
But AirBnB has realised that the storytelling can start before we get to our destination: it can start as early as when people visit booking sites. That’s why the company created Airbnb Stories. By asking you, the customer, to “Imagine yourself there”, the brand is asking you to create your own story, and this sparks your sense of wanderlust in a big way – enticing you, of course, to make an AirBnB booking.
And this is without even mentioning the company’s string of TV ads which tell the (very well produced) success stories of people who have had a magical experience with AirBnB apartments and hosts.
Crafting these encouraging stories is exactly that: a learned craft. It takes a degree of literary skill and psychological insight to understand how to communicate in a way that mesmerises readers.
If you’re struggling to cultivate an audience and you have a story to tell, get in touch. We can’t wait to start writing a new chapter in your success story.
Text: Sam Urquhart