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Storytelling: A Content Marketing Power Tool

January 22, 2020

Written by: Mydee Lasquite

Storytelling is an age-old medium for transferring knowledge. Most stories we heard when we were young were passed down from our parents' parents and from one generation to the next. Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that has been used to impart valuable life lessons.

Children's stories were made popular to help parents teach children good acts and deeds. Novel stories were written to inspire, encourage and entertain readers. There are different kinds of books and reading materials sold globally that have had quite a great impact on how we live today. The Bible itself is made up of stories that teach practical Christian values.

The heroes in these narratives came to life because of the great stories that were told. There are stories we can personally relate to; some of them incite cultural change; others, political upheavals; and some create socio-cultural awareness.

Another gripping story that made waves, both in its print version and on screen, was John Grisham’s "A Time to Kill." In this novel, a father is shot in cold blood by his daughters' attackers and, in a twist of fate, he asks the defense lawyer to defend him. This is a book that challenges cultural norms and highlights social injustice and economic inequality. It was such a powerful book that it was turned into a film.

Stories move. One objective of storytelling is to persuade readers. We've all heard of David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, Mahabharata, The Odyssey. and more popular fables and Shakespearean plays that discussed emotions and moral values.

Today, storytelling is taking the digital marketing world by storm. Putting traditional advertising to rest, brands are telling their own stories. Check out this book by Donald Miller.

The Age of Storytelling

Today, storytelling is a selling device that brands are using to affect how consumers and producers interact with each other. Storytelling was made popular by crowdfunding platforms like Kick Starter.  This particular platform allows talented and deserving individuals to tell their story online and appeal to readers so that they donate to their cause, project or venture. Behind every campaign is a heart-melting story of adversity and the determination to build a better future or to simply increase awareness of specific issues.

One popular project is Dying Words: The AIDS reporting of Jeff Schmalz, which is a documentary on the AIDS epidemic created by a journalist dying of the disease.  The project campaign goal is to raise $20, 000. With 19 more days to go, it has already raised more than $24,000. This can be compared to the not-so-successful book publication funding campaign 25 Years of Tomorrow, which aims to produce a compilation of all the cartoons he created in the last 25 years of his career.

We have two different stories: One shares the experience of a life-altering ailment, its socio-cultural implications and how it has changed journalism. The second campaign celebrates the hard work of a man who dedicated his life to creating cartoons for political satire.

These are examples of how readers appreciate the value of one’s hard work, struggle, pain and happiness.

Storytelling in Marketing

Marketers are exploiting the potential of storytelling in spearheading brand awareness campaigns. Today, storytelling has become a content marketing trend adopted by both B2B and B2C marketers to engage prospective consumers and build a strong relationship with them.

The flexibility of storytelling makes it an indispensable marketing tool for businesses of all sizes since there are various ways to tell a story. Writers can blog about a particular brand story; visual brands can use Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr to tell stories that appeal to their consumers; companies can create webinars and videos about brands, products and services, which are very effective.

Take this infomercial from Lifebuoy: LifeBouy Helped A Child Reach 5. The company could have simply sold its product, but instead, it showed how it can change someone's life. It appeals to the weakness of the consumer while highlighting the benefits of the product to create a compelling story of a child who limits his chances of contracting diarrhea--a life threatening disease in India--by being shown how to wash his hands properly. This infomercial allowed Lifebuoy to stand out from its competitors.

Storytelling as a Marketing Strategy

Storytelling is the new mode of advertising brand campaigns. This is one powerful form of visual content marketing that every marketer should learn how to leverage online. The evolution of digital content is so inspiring and innovative. Product commercials today are no longer about product features, but more about the consumer experience.

Storytelling is a content marketing strategy that any brand, company, product or service can greatly benefit from. People remember stories. If you put a story capable of evoking emotions in your viewers, they will never forget the experience.

Storytelling Evokes Human Emotions

Emotional connections are hard to come by when you are pushing for your product or service to be patronized. Logic and numbers get in the way when you are vying for the emotional advocacy of patrons.

People relate to stories. They oftentimes see a reflection of their own struggles in the stories you share. They reminisce and relive the fun memories that are brought back to life by your story.

Stories bridge the gap between the consumer and the producer. But remember to be real. The human element in your story is what makes it worthwhile for your audience. Audiences love superheroes, but they also want to see their frailty and the vulnerability that leads them to unwise choices.

Create stories that are easy to relate to, expose human weakness and encourage strength. Notice how videos and stories of random acts of kindness are flooding social media platforms. One particular page on Facebook, Suspended Coffees, represents a cause that encourages to pay it forward and engage in random acts of kindness by simply buying coffee for other people. What adds value to this page is that it shares stories of individuals from around the world who engage in random acts of kindness toward strangers. It’s gaining a lot of supporters and followers. Today, more and more news companies and websites are sharing stories to increase awareness of certain causes and movements.

What Makes Storytelling a Great Marketing tool

The purpose of storytelling as a marketing tool is to build a strong relationship between a business and a consumer. Storytelling in marketing is adding a twist to your infomercial by telling a story that will best describe why your product or brand is valuable the consumer.

An example of a great brand story is the Lego Movie. In this movie, the producers and creators skillfully placed in one visual medium its advertising, content marketing and storytelling strategy. Growing up, I had my own Lego set, and I would oftentimes create my empire. Lego is a fun, creative toy that teaches children to be imaginative.

In a successful attempt to showcase what Lego can offer young children, it created a movie that depicted how bliss and adventure were found in Lego Land. This is a movie that will be watched over and over again by young children. Their parents are also appeased in the process because their children learn a lot from the movie and are challenged to improve their block creations. The Lego Movie sends a positive message, which parents love and appreciate.

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Check out this book by Donald Miller on story telling. If I were you, I'd purchase it today. It has helped me a lot with my business.

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