Storyteller marketing is an essential marketing strategy in which you use stories to capture your audience’s attention, to engage their senses on multiple levels, and to become memorable to your audience. Marketers who aren’t using stories aren’t forging deep, meaningful, emotional connections with their audiences, and in the vast sea of options, of content, and of distractions, they’re losing their audiences, possibly forever.
What is Storyteller Marketing?
Storyteller marketing is marketing that engages audiences on a meaningful and emotional level. You can use stories to:
Tell audiences who you are (i.e., your background)
Tell them about what you do or sell (i.e., how you can help them or solve their problems)
Tell their stories (i.e., to make them feel even more connected to your brand).
Marketing through stories means coming up with a way to reach your audience using a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This does not mean starting out with “once upon a time”. What this means is thinking of the way you want your audience to feel after they experience your “story”.
This starts with you having a clear understanding of your product and your audience. What does your audience want to feel? What are they missing in their lives? What do they need help with?
Next, understand what is the product’s product’s product? In other words, what is the product of the product you’re selling? In most cases, you’re not actually getting your audience to buy a thing; you’re selling an idea. That idea, the thing that you’re selling, can be fun, success, comfort, peace of mind, etc.
How Does Storyteller Marketing Work?
Storyteller marketing works like this:
Start with the problem. Use a character who represents your audience struggling with their problem.
Present the solution. Show how you or your product creates the solution to the audience’s problem.
Reveal the outcome and show the underlying message. Present the character with who initially had the problem no longer struggling with that problem and experiencing the product’s product’s product (i.e., an easier work day, mess-free dinners, joy, success, etc.). Note the underlying message should never be stated. Never say, “Thanks to this new desktop management software, you don’t have to worry about being able to access your material…ever!” That needs to be shown in the story.
Short stories that have high quality content and that are shorter are shown to have higher success rates with audiences because they’re easier to remember and to repeat to others. Using visuals like images or videos will enhance the experience.
To demonstrate, let’s look at this example. Your audience is the modern mom. She’s age 20–40, has children, and (typically) a partner. She’s still young, but the sweatpants, pile of laundry, and 9–5 workday don’t give her much time to enjoy it.
The problem: The audience craves a little personal time with her friends so she can dress up, can relax without worrying about what the kids are licking off the floor, and can play catch up and laugh until her mascara runs with her friends.
The solution: You produce a sparkling wine that retails for $10–$15. You show the character shimmying out of her sweatpants and pulling on her best LBD. She almost doesn’t go because she’s tired, but then she imagines the night. She and her friends meet at a post restaurant. The server fills champagne flutes with bubbly, and as they drink, they come alive, the doldrums of daily life float away. Suddenly they’re laughing, tossing their heads back in peals of glee, grinning widely for selfies, and having the best time ever. And without a backward glance, she’s out the door.
The outcome: For one night, your audience gets to be Cinderella. She gets to have a blast with her friends and to feel young and carefree. The underlying message is that with this champagne, the audience will experience fun, will recapture her youth, and will enjoy a night of nostalgia.
In reality, is the product necessary for those things? Not necessarily; however, the story creates that impression. Your audience even forms an unconscious association between the product and the outcome. The more exposure they have to the story and the better-told the story is, the more likely it is that when they see that brand, they will instantly think of fun, youth, and freedom.
Why Everybody Needs Storyteller Marketing
It is for these reasons that everyone needs to incorporate storyteller marketing into their approach. It’s proven to be effective (like Shakira’s hips, statistics also don’t lie as shown in One Spot's highly-referenced infograph, "The Science of Storytelling") over the long term.
Stories penetrate audiences on an emotional level, which facilitates audiences cultivating a strong connection to your brand. Storyteller marketing makes you unforgettable. What’s amazing about it is that you can use it at any point in your brand’s evolution. Use stories to reveal your origin to your audience. Use stories to highlight how you can solve your audience’s problems. Use stories to tell your audience’s stories. Use stories to showcase how you’re making a difference in the world around you.
The beauty is that stories are authentic. They’re genuine. Stories reveal truths through narrative. The best part is that any brand can embrace storyteller marketing (which is why every brand should use it).
In case the name didn’t give it away, we at The Storyteller Agency are passionate about storyteller marketing because that’s what we do best. The pen really is mightier, and great stories have the power to inspire and to influence. If you need support bringing stories to your marketing strategy, contact us, The Storyteller Agency.