One more page, one more chapter, one last episode…. We all love to sit down with a good story and be transported to an alternate reality. Stories have power over our attitudes and behavior. We’re social beings, and our human brains are wired to encode memories in narrative form as it is the basis for building causal chains. How do we leverage great storytelling in the marketing world, even if we’re not the next great American novelist?
In order to understand how to use storytelling in marketing, first consider the benefits of doing so. Storytelling helps you to:
- Build trust with your target audience
- Increase engagement and brand awareness
- Capture (and hold onto) people’s attention
- Distinguish yourself from competitors
- Help your audience retain more information
- Generate resonance for your mission or cause
In a nutshell, telling a story makes your content more memorable, helping you create loyal customers and sell more products and services as a result.
When it comes to marketing messages and stories, businesses often make themselves the star of the show. They go on about their product’s features and how amazing their company is, thinking that people will be convinced to buy. This is one of the most common mistakes we see when working with brands that want to understand how to use storytelling in marketing.
Your business isn’t the hero of your customer’s story; the customer is the protagonist! Instead of competing with your customers for the role of hero in your story, it’s more effective to make them the hero and help them win the day. Making your customers the hero in your stories will give them more reasons to choose you over your competitors.
How do you make the customer the hero? It all comes back to having a deep understanding of your target customer’s core problem and showing how you help solve it in a unique way.
Don’t have exceptional creativity or pro writing skills? No problem! Apply these proven, easy-to-follow storytelling frameworks to your brand story to make your customer the hero.
The StoryBrand framework hones in on your target client’s problems (instead of telling them about you, you focus on speaking to their needs). It is intended to improve your entire marketing strategy by clarifying your message and speaking to your clients’ pain points. We’ve found it especially helpful when creating website content.
You can read an entire book to teach you the ins and outs of using StoryBrand, but essentially it unfolds as follows:
- Your client/ prospect…
- With a problem (external, internal, and philosophical)…
- Meets a guide who understands their fear…
- And gives them a simple, 3-step plan…
- That calls them to action…
- That ends in success…
- That helps avoid failure.
Another framework for making your customer the hero is the age-old narrative found across all media types:
- Departure: Hero (your customer!) goes on an adventure
- Initiation: Hero has to make a decision during a crisis and comes out victorious
- Return: The hero returns home transformed
Another variation is the classic three-act structure:
- Setup: Set the scene and introduce the character (again, remember this is your target customer)
- Rising action: Present a problem and build up the tension
- Resolution: Resolve the problem
These frameworks are great for:
- Illustrating how your customers benefit from using your product or service
- Testimonials and case studies
- Founding stories
- Explainer videos
Do you have a favorite Pixar movie? Here at Brighter Messaging, our team’s top picks include Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., WALL-E, and Finding Nemo. Although one of our team members asked, “How is that even a valid question?” She’s a raving fan of all things Pixar.
There’s no doubt that the people at Pixar know how to weave great narratives and get viewers invested in them with simple, clear, and powerful storytelling. You can use the Pixar Pitch techniques to power up your brand’s story:
- Once upon a time, there was __________
- Every day, _____________
- Then one day, __________
- Because of that, _________
- Because of that, __________
- Until finally, ________________
Steps one and two speak to the pain points your audience deals with every day. Steps three to five allow you to introduce your product or service as a potential solution to the challenges mentioned previously. Finally, you get the chance to highlight the new way of life your customers will enjoy because of the problems your business solved for them.
Use the Pixar Pitch for:
- Getting audiences emotionally invested in your mission and your brand’s success
- Video marketing
- Social media posts
If you want to know how to use storytelling in marketing, knowing your audience, being clear on your value proposition, and caring about your mission will get you off the starting blocks when it comes to creating resonant marketing messages. Using the simple storytelling formulas above (that make your customer the hero) will help you create an engaging narrative that is far more impactful than spewing out commands or facts.
Does staring at a blank screen make you feel nauseated? If you’re looking for professional writing skills, look no further. Reach out to the Brighter Messaging team to schedule a free consultation and make your company’s marketing story a happy one.