The effectiveness of advertising and direct marketing continues to be on the decline, as consumers more distrustful of companies than they have ever been. But where all other tactics fail, one never fails to impress: storytelling. A brand that tells a story humanises itself in the eyes of its audience; it suddenly becomes more authentic and trustworthy than its faceless, corpocratic counterparts.
Image : shutterstock
Stories, as they go, can be used to engage, entertain, and inform their audiences. But most of all, they can be used to forge connections — real, lasting connections. This has several benefits beyond gaining customers, the primary one being that people who connect with a brand automatically become its ambassadors, spreading its message within their vast networks whether through social media or old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
Now that the importance of storytelling has been established, here are a few ways in which it can be used it to market a brand:
Create an authentic narrative
Disseminating misleading content is an easy way to frustrate and alienate potential customers. No one likes being lied to and a brand that tries gaining customers by deceiving them is doomed to fail. The story your brand crafts should stay true to your business' purpose and USP. Don't portray your company as something more than it is. If, for example, your company sells a CRM service, don't act as though you're solving a great social problem by doing so. Instead, show people that you're the best at what you do and give them honest reasons to support your assertion.
Use multiple channels and mediums
Stories can be told through several mediums — videos, images, blog posts and infographics can all be used to great effectiveness for this purpose. It's important to try everything to see which one draws the most viewers. Another vital tactic is to employ all available channels in your marketing efforts. Try reaching audiences on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Use emails and offline marketing methods to further your reach. Soon you'll see which tactics are proving to be the most successful and you can focus your efforts on them for maximum results.
The best stories always leave readers yearning for more. Your brand should adopt the same tactic and strive to generate curiosity in its audience. This doesn't mean publishing articles with click-bait headlines like 'you won't believe what happens next!'; there are few things on the internet as irritating as coming across such sentences like those. Instead, your story should be so well-crafted and engaging that audiences can't wait to see what comes next. Each subsequent piece of content you release should pick up the narrative from where the earlier one left it. This will keep the audience coming back for more, and if you consistently release quality content, your brand will gain ardent long-time followers.
Never use a story to sell
Telling a story should not be accompanied by an ulterior motive; it should be told for its own sake. Any content that promotes a product or service is nothing more than a blatant attempt at advertising, and one which potential customers will see right through. Marketing should be about giving not selling. People should receive genuine value from and be able to relate with your brand's content. Your brand's story should educate people about how the product or service is beneficial, without directly promoting said benefit. Instead, highlight the problems they're facing and show them how they can be solved. Since your brand is the one giving them this information, they'll automatically prefer it over any of your competitors.
Consistency is key for brands when it comes to storytelling. Once you've decided what story you want to be told, all the content you post should follow the same theme. Do that and you'll soon find your brand garnering a better reputation, more engagement, and subsequently, more customers.