Trends come and go in marketing, but one thing which remains constant is the importance of storytelling.
Humans are wired for story because they have been imperative to our survival since tribal times. It’s how we make sense of the world and create meaning.
A rich, relatable story is what draws customers to your brand and keeps them coming back for more.
'Engaging the Heart and Mind Neuroscience' confirms that the most effective way to get people’s attention and make a lasting impression is through narrative. This is because stories create an emotional reaction. The stronger the emotional reaction, the more entrenched the memory becomes because the brain perceives it as important for survival.
It is this deep and lasting impression which marketing needs to engender. You want your customer to form an emotional bond with your brand and to feel like part of your ‘tribe.’
A Neglected Art
While story is at the heart of marketing, it has become eclipsed to some extent by algorithms and content optimisation. The need to maximise clicks and views and produce content quickly has meant that a compelling and coherent brand story often gets lost.
Just 17% of those surveyed in Skyword’s 2018 Inside the Content Marketing Continuum Survey made use of storytelling, but 83% of the top marketers reported that story was central to their content design. The reason this approach is more successful is because people crave engagement-marketing that is authentic and inspirational.
When composing or refining your brand story it’s helpful to use the classic three-part story structure to create a narrative arc:
This is where you open up and share your reason for being, the spark that keep you opening your doors, your bigger purpose if you like. Your founding story doesn’t have to be complicated or dramatic, just relatable for your customer and from the heart.
All great stories involve struggle, courage, overcoming adversity, and the middle of your story is where you outline challenges and explore the stakes in a way that resonates emotionally with customers. It is key to winning respect and loyalty, showing that they are at the centre of your every thought and move.
The temptation in marketing is to put a shiny gloss on everything and portray your brand as perfect. The result is content that is pleasant but unmemorable. People will skim over it and move on to the next pretty piece of content, quickly forgetting about you.
The end is where you explain how you resolved problems and challenges to improve your brand experience. This may involve tweaking products and services, changing strategies and learning from past mistakes. The goal is to create an image of earned success that your customers want to be associated with.
Having a clearly defined narrative for your business allows you to refine your message and create a consistent image. A compelling brand story gives your company a human face that customers can connect with.