story telling in marketing

Mastering Story-Based Content Marketing

Once upon a time, content marketing was a new frontier with many brands cautious to invest. As word of great results got around, the multitude of content on social media grew, making it as crowded and noisy as the traditional marketing tactics that came before. Thankfully there are smart content marketers out there who know how to pivot. And the pivot they’ve made for 2018 is story-based content marketing.

The reason for this is simple. Today’s content consumers are people who make daily decisions on how to fill needs and solve problems in their lives and work. Less open to and persuaded by the sales promises of marketing outreach, they want authenticity and stories make your brand the solution that fills that need. Regardless of what you’re trying to sell, people want stories that are real and accessible.

What is a Brand Story?

Your brand’s story is much more than its history or the ‘about us’ section of a website. A brand story is an established narrative developed by your brand or business that evokes an emotional reaction from your audience. It can encompass your history, facts and figures, purpose, and values. But it is bigger than these things alone, because it goes deep to the very identity of your brand.

Storytelling has been around for about as long as humans have. Content marketing today makes perfect sense because of the rise of social media and the public conversations and experiences people are having with brands. This means your social media followers, your employees, and your customers are your co-content creators. You are not solely in control of that authorship and your brand’s story. But you can lead it.

How to Lead Your Brand Story

Entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, grew his business from a small record shop founded in 1972 into a multinational company through storytelling. “Brand storytelling is a great way to get your point of across, differentiate your brand, and work out new ideas,” he explains. “Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or leader, you also have to be a storyteller.”

Think of your brand in terms of a journey to take your audience through. Just like any good story, it needs a beginning, middle, and an end. The hero is your brand. There is a challenge, and in the end there’s a resolution that benefits your audience.

Clear, a biometrics company helping people get through clearances and identifications faster, tells its story perfectly in a 30-second video featuring a customer they named Jimmy. Jimmy always has to show his ID, which slows him down and makes him feel like he has to justify himself. Watch the video and you’ll see that we are all Jimmy. This story successfully compels us to want Clear to put a permanent end to the need to stop and show ID to anyone ever again.

Human beings crave great stories. From video and social media to case studies, articles, sales letters, and email, storytelling should play a role in your strategy to drive emotional engagement with your audience and enhance business performance. When you know you have mere seconds to gain your audience’s attention, let your great story help sear your brand in their psyche.

Deborah K.

Deborah was the kid who would rather write book reports and essays than play ball during recess. Although she didn’t score many points with her peers, it did lead to her career creating content for TV, radio, print and new media for companies as varied as Dooney& Bourke, Panera Breads, Visa, SUNY Ulster and Hudson Valley Federal Savings Bank. She is also a principal of small packages – a digital design company, and past partner/marketing director of whatis.com, the world’s foremost reference on information technology. And, her love of food enabled her to become a contributing editor of both Gourmet Retailer and Food Distribution Magazines. Deborah has a bachelor degree in fine art from the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford and a masters in higher education administration from Stony Brook University. When she’s not writing, her love of quilting, furry animals, friends, and family sustains her.

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