Storytelling is a process of combining fact and narrative to create a conversation with audiences, and thanks to their desire for brands to provide meaning, emotion and authenticity, it is increasing in relevance for marketers.
- Stories have plots and characters that offer the reader an opportunity to relate. As a result, when applied to marketing, there is the possibility to establish an emotional connection with consumers.
- Storytelling as a marketing strategy has been proven to improve engagement and reach, with 83% of marketers commenting that video as a form of storytelling, gives them a better ROI.
Storytelling is an art form that dates back centuries and has a place in all cultures and societies because they can be understood and interpreted by everyone, regardless of home, heritage or dialect. They have the ability to stimulate emotion and imagination while creating a greater sense of community between tellers and listeners. This is key to building a two-way conversation with consumers and below are crucial takeaway points for brands considering in adopting the storytelling trend.
1. Be real
According to the Co-Founder and CEO of Fabl, Taj Forer, the main reason for the lack of effective storytelling from brands is due to authenticity. He goes onto discuss the results when authenticity is prioritised - the creation of an organic byproduct.
When marketers centre on authenticity, an advert will gain more than just visibility: it is more credible and also acted on. The consumers want to express their real self on social media platforms, and in turn, expect brands to do the same. Therefore, by utilising authenticity in storytelling, not only will brands create a subject matter that the audience can relate to, but one that they will trust.
Marketers’ excuses for not using video: 23% said they do not have the time. 21% claim they do not know where to begin. 14% are unsure of the ROI of video. 12% think video might be too expensive.
This point is very simple, a brand will get out what they put in. Invest the time and resources into a content strategy and brand narrative, and the results will speak for themselves.
3. Adapt mindsets
Forer (CEO of Fabl) believes that to achieve true storytelling potential, marketers should change their mindset to think like a publisher. They build relationships based primarily on trust with their consumers and this is something that ads would benefit greatly from achieving. In order to do this, they must move past the current approach, for example, their focus on ROI, and channel this into the four pillars of storytelling: people, place, purpose, and plot.
Once focus lies on this, a premium level of storytelling will be achieved, and an increase in engagement will follow.
4. Do not take consumers for granted
Consumers will always be a brand’s most valuable asset. All content produced by a brand is for the consumer, so marketers are at their mercy. As described by David Beebe,
“Marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second.”
To achieve this second date, and generate leads, marketers need to learn everything they can about their audience further than just gender, occupation, and salary. They must investigate their consumers values, motivations, and attitudes. Once this information is acquired, brands will be in a position to establish platforms their audience engage with most and the type of content they want to receive on this platform.
5. Consider mobile
A very simple error currently made by brands, is not optimising their storytelling content for a mobile experience.
34% of users ‘mainly’ watch on mobile, with 17% ‘mainly’ on desktop, and 42% ‘pretty much equally’ on mobile and desktop.
The loss of reach and engagement by not optimising for mobile devices may as well take brands back to square one, especially after investing the time to provide authentic stories.
6. Images and videos should not be overlooked
Although storytelling dates back many years, this new form of storytelling marketers are trying to harness, will rely far more on images and videos. Consumers are less willing to read through 100+ pages of information to feel convinced about a brand, they want entertainment, aesthetics and fast information.
Much like getting to know consumers, a brand cannot expect to reach new generations if they do not completely understand their wants and needs. Today’s leading generation, the millennials, learn primarily through images, music and other media, taking less interest in longer pieces of text. Brands should not underestimate the power of rich media.
Consumers are less inclined to decide on their purchases based off what a brand is selling, their expectations are now higher, and they want to know why a brand is selling this product or service, and what benefits it will bring them. Storytelling helps brands communicate this in a more creative and engaging way, and this is the future for marketing strategies.