When it comes to marketing your business, in today’s competitive landscape finding ways of connecting with your potential customers has become more important than ever before.
Long gone are the days when companies or brands could rely on being able to crack the right markets through simply activating slick advertising and clever marketing campaigns.
As the world compresses in size and consumers become more empowered in their decision making the onus is on you, the business, to capture not only the attention of your audience but also that of stakeholders such as your local council, tourism or creative organisations.
Your customer wants to feel enriched, enlightened, entertained and enthused by your brand.
How do you capture the attention and the imagination of the world around you?
By connecting with your customers in a way that will move their spirit, excite their curiosity and drive them to want more. By using the power of story.
Storytelling isn’t a new thing, it’s not a digital marketing buzz phrase and it certainly isn’t an alien concept.
In fact “storytelling” is at the very core of all society, it’s what makes us human. The ability to relate and recall stories is something we teach our children from a very young age as we use storytelling to conceptualise difficult social constructs or ideas into a medium they can comprehend or understand.
The Science of Storytelling: Why Does It Work?
We already know storytelling is an effective marketing tactic with many businesses globally adopting it as an intrinsic part of their communications strategy.
But, in order to use storytelling effectively, it’s not just about weaving it into your marketing, it must be incorporated into every aspect of your brand.
By building your brand, and subsequently, your communications, around a single clear narrative customers can begin to feel more engaged by the messages you are trying to convey.
How does it work?
The science of storytelling is more than just about creating interesting and unique stories when communicating to your audience. It’s more than piquing people’s curiosity.
Stories, in all their forms, inspire us and engage our imaginations planting seeds in our brains, which over time influence who we are, including the decisions we make and the views we hold.
In his essay ‘What Listening to a Story Does to Our Brains’ entrepreneur and professional storyteller Leo Widrich said when a person hears a story: “not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are, too.”
What this means is we’re more likely to have an emotional response if what we are being told is wrapped up in a “story”. We begin to resonate with and even relate to what is happening, we might even begin to empathise.
By engaging in storytelling, brands are providing customers the ability to live vicariously through the story. If they feel the right emotional pull, they’ll understand why a brand is right for them. Even if this whole process is mostly subconscious.
Why do you need brand storytelling?
As the world continues to compact in size with social media and smart technology making information more and more accessible, consumers are becoming ever more savvy to traditional sales, marketing and promotional techniques.
It’s getting harder to penetrate their personal space with traditional styled advertising campaigns thanks to ad blockers (removing online advertising from a browser), Netflix (replacing TV) and Spotify (replacing radio) for example.
Not just that, the changing trends in information consumption means people are more discerning about what they consume, they’re highly alert to their ever-decreasing leisure time and making snapshot decisions based, in many cases, on the concept of curiosity.
Exactly what is brand storytelling?
Brand storytelling is more than just an element of your marketing strategy. According to Kaitlin Loyal, a brand journalist and content strategist at Scribewise, brand storytelling is: “using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”
What that means is that when shaping the “story” of your business it is important to think about how it weaves in everything from characters, setting and location to what ties you to the local area, heritage and culture. In some cases this will be heavily weighed on your own personal story and your back story. In others it will be steeped in the historic significance of the area in which your business exists. It could even be a myth or legend of the land around you.
When creating your brand story it is important to ensure you weave it through the following marketing elements of your business:
- Company ‘about us’ or description
- About you (the owner)
- Company history
- Mission statement and values
- Your vision and ambitions
- Your aim and the aim of the company
- Your unique selling proposition
- Social media channels
- On-site marketing
- Any other online marketing channels such as Discover NI, local council website, Tripadvisor etc…
- How are we different?
- How will we make the world a better place?
- How will we leave a lasting impression on our visitors?
- What are the things people always want to know more about?
- How do we add value to people’s lives?
- How do we solve a problem for our visitors?
- How will we authentically reach people?
- How will we build an emotional connection with our visitors?
- How do we gain and retain their trust?
If you make your story as simple and as compelling as possible others will tell it for you.
Tina Calder is a journalist and publicist of 25 years and the founder of Excalibur Press, a publicity management, content creation and copywriting agency in Belfast specialising in brand storytelling throughout all aspects of marketing and communications.