Storytelling: A must-have strategic marketing tool

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Storytelling is a vital part of content marketing. It draws in the reader, immersing them in a relatable experience. Whether it’s through a 140-character tweet, a blog post, email, video, presentation, ebook, or full case study—what matters is that the message resonates.

People are beginning to ignore content that doesn’t provide meaning and relevance. It’s leading to lower ROI and increased frustration for marketers. If your content doesn’t engage the audience emotionally, you will lose their attention.

Brands have a remarkable opportunity to use storytelling strategically to strengthen customer relationships. It can forge, or restore, a company’s reputation by informing and delighting customers.

Here are a few elements to consider when planning your storytelling marketing strategy:

The role of emotion

We tell one another stories and we connect emotionally—through our hearts and minds. But through B2B business, are we equating storytelling to factual case studies rather than emotionally triggering customers? Data may persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act. How many consumers truly make purchasing decisions based on statistics? When you talk about your project, it's not just about what you say but how you say it. Figures and facts are essential, but you'll never entice anyone with statistics alone.

People are attracted to stories because they hold meaning and create an emotional impact. Good stories can yield powerful results for brands. Leveraging people’s natural affinity for brand storytelling can transform your content marketing strategy. Discover which emotion the audience is feeling before and after they encounter your product or service. How does it affect their lifestyle? It will not only help to connect with customers, but it also nurtures the overall branding strategy.

Evolving human needs

Storytelling is at the center of how we express ideas that matter. Stories define our humanity and bind us together. Businesses need to take a step back to evaluate whether the content they’re presenting matches the target audience’s interests and resonates with their lives.

A compelling brand story begins with purpose. The result you may want is to sell a product or service—but it should not feel that way to the reader. Big-picture stories that make sense of the world and define your place in it help inspire people to think differently, and engage their senses and their minds. They don’t just hear stories—they experience them.

Be clear about your organization’s competitive advantage: be innovative. Go deeper and incorporate authentic responses from people involved in the story. Be genuine and intersect with a customer’s journey or an area of interest—not marketing pieces crafted to feel like them. Stories can nurture communities of influencers who believe in your brand and contribute to your tale.

Identify your hero

By giving your products and services an identity, you can take your target audience on a journey. Consider a character to tell the story, perhaps a hero—like your customer. Heroes, villains, suspense, and adventure sell a story and make it interesting. It is with people that a brand’s story must begin.

Give audiences a role in your brand story, and they’ll see themselves as an extension of it. Provide a guiding narrative that helps the reader understand how you are different from the competition. Express your personality. Share the “one in a million” story that reveals your vision, values, and beliefs. Be creative and make it relevant to appeal to your buyer—the true hero of your story.

Tailoring the message to the medium

Any medium can be used to tell a story, including video, email, social channels, and case studies. However, each vehicle elicits a different reaction from your audience. Each one has its advantages—and drawbacks. To make your story work, you should tell it through multiple forms of media.

Analyze and personalize your messages by using listening tools and cutting-edge analytics. Use words, images, and sounds in the right order to ignite passion or evoke a strong emotional response based on the platform and strategy you’re applying. There are no limits to how or where you can tell a story. If you can find the way to use a medium to tell your story, do it. You’re bound to be rewarded with willing attention and engagement.

The biggest challenge facing content marketers can also be their greatest opportunity. Storytelling builds credibility—and it is far more effective than just telling people what to do. When people believe a brand is worth buying for reasons other than price, you build advocates. And that’s a strategy all marketers can stand behind.