Wouldn’t it be nice to look into a crystal ball and discover how marketing will look in the future?
Well, that’s probably not going to happen, so instead, we have to look at where marketing is and what’s influencing it right now. One of the biggest trends is storytelling, and it has the ability to attract and resonate with audiences in a really big way.
|Tip: Learn how to increase brand exposure creatively!|
Let’s look at why brand storytelling is the future of marketing.
Marketing is at a crossroads. We live in a world where everything is digitally driven; the human aspect of consumer interaction has been waning. But people long for authenticity, and businesses have to answer.
No longer can brands be faceless. They need to have a personality; they need to have a story. This story creates connections with audiences and engages them on a much deeper level.
Besides just flavoring your messaging with features, functions, and why people should buy your product or service, you need to have a story about why you do what you do and how you help your users.
Brand storytelling is no longer something that is nice to have in your content. It’s essential to the growth of your company. It can maximize your visibility, revenue, and reputation.
Here are three tips for harnessing brand storytelling for your business.
No matter your industry, you’re probably in a crowded marketplace. The content being produced every day by brands is only increasing. The internet has somewhat democratized marketing, making it accessible to all, but also saturating markets.
While you do have a quality product or service available to your audience, they need to know more in order to want to buy from you. Your brand story has to differentiate you from your competitors.
You could simply focus on the facts, statistics, or testimonials to promote your product. There needs to be some heart in it and you need to be uniquely you.
Focus on being memorable by creating a brand story that invokes an emotional response while also delivering key information. This is the opportunity to use narrative to win over prospects. Create content around your brand’s history and how it has evolved. This story is personally your own; no one else can write it.
Storytelling will not only attract visitors, but it’s also more memorable than facts, about 22 times more. Telling your brand’s story well isn’t easy. It’s good to start with some inspiration, so check out these six great examples of brand storytelling. In addition to that, you need to be asking yourself the important questions along the way.
What questions should you ask yourself when creating your brand storytelling strategy?
These emotional connections also impact neural activity. When you listen to a story that interests you, your brain activity actually increases. It literally lights up the brain’s sensory cortex, which can lead to physical reactions like being able to feel, taste, or smell the story.
Further, research has found that storytelling can activate neural coupling in the brain. This causes the reader to empathize with the story, being able to relate to it based on their own experiences.
Brand storytelling is influenced by what your audiences need from you. It’s more than just the object or service. It’s how it will change their lives or enable them to meet a challenge. Lots of brands are able to weave this into the storytelling.
Brands like Rothy’s have a great product, in this case, shoes. But their marketing is about more than the buyer’s need for something on their feet. Rothy’s has a sustainability focus, which is important to many buyers. They’ve made that part of their story and have built a community amongst like-minded people that also adore the actual product.
When you are in the heat of brand storytelling, you’re in emotional territory. There are also values and ideas. When you are in sync with your target audience, you don’t have customers, you have a community; one that is loyal and even fanatic.
You can create this type of community with how you tell your story. Invite conversation and engagement, transforming your brand into an experience. When customers feel this kind of closeness to your story, they will support you and let others know.
Vice versa, you can also tell your story with your community. Using reviews your customers have given your brand allows them to take part in your story, and steer it in an interesting direction.
What you have now is trust, and to have a customer trust you is probably your greatest honor.
Simply doing the basics in marketing these days probably won’t get you the results you desire. Customers want more than to be sold. They want to know how your brand is making a difference and doing more than just turning a profit.
Thus, your mission matters. When you express it well in your brand story, your audience is more likely to see you as genuine and human. It’s all about the balance of profitability and humanity, and when executed well, it pays off. The top 10 most empathetic companies, as rated by the Global Empathy Index, are also some of the fastest growing and most profitable.
Looking at the Index, most of these brands are well-known but not just for their products or services. Apple and Microsoft are both on the list, and we all know what they offer and how it would be impossible for most people to go without the technology they provide.
However, people aren’t just buying technology. They are buying the story that each of these brands has crafted over the years. Most people that use Apple or Microsoft products do so because they trust these companies and have an emotional connection to the brands, considering them to be part of their inner circle. They’ve mastered the art of making their brands human and relatable.
The trick is, how do you make your brand more human? Storytelling is the best approach. As humans, our brains are genetically wired to respond to stories. With a memorable brand story, a person can feel a real connection to your business. It can have a lasting positive impact that turns customers into fans.
Many brands are doing this with their own content hubs. These hubs aren’t built to promote a brand but rather to tell their story and deliver content that’s helpful and useful. Many well-known brands have been able to use these hubs as a way to connect with audiences beyond just the initial attraction of, the consumer has a problem and the company has a solution. These brands are sharing what makes them unique, creating much deeper relationships.
Now that we’ve established why brand storytelling is the future of marketing, it’s all about the execution. Here are some tips on how to get it right.
Your story needs to start with a hook: what’s the problem or challenge that needs a resolution? The best stories address your customers’ pain points and get them curious and invested. Think about any great story you’ve ever read. If it didn’t get you sucked in from the beginning, you may have lost interest.
The most important question to ask at this stage is what is the need that your service or product fills and how?
Is your value proposition part of your story? Or is it too generic or even dated? It’s important that your value proposition is the start of your story, so it might be time to revisit it and think of how it fits into brand storytelling.
For too long, marketing has been centered around the product or service; however, that should not be your protagonist—your customer should be. When you can inject personal relevance into the story, you’ll have someone who wants to be part of it. When you give your audience a role in the story, they see themselves as part of the solution—your solution.
Listening to your customers and the problems they've experienced with your product in the past can help shape your brand for the future. There's no better story than actually taking the time to read the reviews your customers leave for you and answer their questions and concerns directly.
TIP: Want to provide a platform for customers to leave reviews so that you can watch your own story unfold before your very eyes?
Your customers are people, and being such, they are emotional creatures. We all make decisions based on feelings. So, you need to use this to your advantage in storytelling. Without being able to create an emotional connection, no one is really going to care what you have to say.
The emotional part of our brains is more perceptive than our actual thinking processes, as they can be slow to get to the point. Think about all the tears you’ve cried during Hallmark commercials. You may have forgotten that those were even about buying someone a card. That emotional connection you felt, however, lingered with you.
Brand storytelling is much more than a trend in marketing strategy. It’s the future of how brands will connect with audiences among all the noise. Embrace brand storytelling so that your business can create lasting relationships and loyal customers.
Still confused by the concept of brand storytelling? Don't worry, there are experts out there who can help. Check out the G2 user reviews on brand agencies that can help you launch your marketing to the next level.
Michael Brenner is author of 3 books including Mean People Suck, The Content Formula, and Digital Marketing Growth Hacks. He is a Forbes top CMO influencer, was named a Top Business Keynote Speaker by the Huffington Post, and a Top Motivational Speaker by Entrepreneur Magazine. He is CEO of Marketing Insider group, where he works with Fortune 500 brands and startups to build effective marketing programs.
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