Every business has a story to tell. Not all of them are tearjerkers, nor do they all have an important lesson to be shared. But behind every company’s logo is a story that can help their business grow.
Storytelling has been proven to be one of the most successful tools in marketing. In this blog I will cover what makes a good story, how to find a brand’s story and why marketers should be using stories in their marketing plan.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD STORY
A story is not a mission statement or tagline. A good story has a beginning, middle and end. It is vivid and engaging. There are emotions to feel, something at stake, and most importantly, a character to care about.
Below is an excellent example of a story done by Airbnb. It includes all of the elements listed above.
By using stories in a marketing strategy, brands are able to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Stories humanize brands and rouse emotions. Brand loyalty is created by having a genuine, human connection, because at the end of the day, people want to do business with people – not businesses.
FINDING THE STORY
Finding the story can sometimes be a difficult task. As marketers, we know what a brand’s mission is, but we often don’t know how or why it became the mission.
Let’s say a brand’s mission is to encourage a healthy lifestyle by eating organic, high-quality and local food. Their marketing efforts all demonstrate that their food is organic, high-quality and local. They consistently communicate that their staff is living proof, as they too eat their food and live a very healthy lifestyle. So the story here would be that this brand not only believes in a healthy lifestyle but they live it, right? Not quite.
We want to look at that defining moment that made someone decide to live a healthy lifestyle. Or, the story could be about how living this healthy lifestyle has transformed someone’s life. Perhaps the founder had a heart attack from being overweight, or a close family member developed serious health issues from making poor nutritional decisions. There needs to be a character to care about with something at stake.
To find these stories, ask your client specific questions like “where were you when you decided to start eating healthy?” Or, “what happened that made you realize you needed a change?” A question like “why did you start eating healthy?” is too generic to elicit a detailed response. It won’t help you get to the bottom of a compelling story.
TELLING THE STORY – DETAILS MATTER
The most important part of the story is the exposition, or the initial situation. Where was the customer before they found you? By doing this, potential customers will really understand how your business solved a problem they can relate to.
Storytelling is a co-creative process between the teller and the listener. As you tell a story, listeners will create their own setting and characters based on their own experiences. That collaborative process is what makes a good story so memorable. Be specific by including as many details as possible. Details will help generate emotions and build settings. Painting a picture together establishes a personal relationship, and listeners who are inspired and intrigued by your story are more likely to become loyal customers.
Now that you have your story, share it! The best places to tell your story are “about us” pages, social media accounts, email campaigns, presentations or blogs.
As mentioned earlier, not all stories are tearjerkers – and that’s ok. Make a list of a business’ values and go from there. Think about customer transformations no matter how simple they may seem. As long as you’re asking the right questions, there is a story to be found.