A Marketer’s Guide to Storytelling

It can seem like the marketing profession changes on a daily basis. From shifting consumer preferences to the constant flood of new tools and technologies, success in marketing relies on the ability to quickly adapt and adjust strategy. But regardless of ever-changing approaches and tactics, the challenge remains the same: every marketer must be able to create messages that reach and engage people. And one of the most timeless and effective ways to do this is through the art of storytelling.

Think back to your favorite stories as a kid, and how you felt when you read or heard them. You watched characters overcome obstacles, you related to the hero of the story (perhaps even imagined yourself to be him or her), and ultimately, you left feeling inspired, with a slightly different perspective on things and a newfound motivation to bring about change.

Wouldn’t it be powerful to be able to capture this same emotion with your marketing messages? Let’s take a look at how you can use elements of storytelling to make your marketing content more compelling.

Introduce the Challenge and the Hero

The most important thing to remember when crafting your marketing messages is this: you’re not pushing a product at people, you’re helping them to overcome a challenge. The fastest way to grab your audience’s attention is to describe a problem that they can identify with, then show them how they can solve it. And stop singing the praises of your product — your ultimate goal here is to make your customer  the hero of the story, so show them how they can use your product to triumph over their own obstacles.

Share Your Own Story

All too often, marketers get so caught up in trying to impress their audience that they forget to relate to them. And in terms of returns, there’s a very compelling argument for showing off your human side: having a best-in-class product is key for attracting customers, but getting them to relate to the the people behind that product is what turns these customers into lifelong clients and advocates of your brand.

The good news is, it’s not hard to give your marketing a human element. You’ve probably faced many of the same obstacles and crises that your audience has, so put some of your own story into your marketing content. Share how you’ve overcome difficulties, what you’ve learned, and how these lessons have influenced the product you’ve created. And don’t forget to keep your language human as well — you’re not trying to impress your audience with your knowledge of industry jargon, you’re trying to relate to them with your own experiences.

Conclude with a Call to Action

The best stories are those that inspire, leaving the reader bursting with new ideas and anxious to take action. If you’ve done your job correctly, your content can have this effect, so don’t let this feeling go to waste. You’ve introduced the challenge and you’ve outlined the goal, now let your reader know what they need to do next to overcome that challenge and accomplish that goal. Maybe it’s purchasing your product or maybe it’s moving on to more detailed educational content, but make sure the next step is obvious with a clear and effective call to action.

What are some other ways that you can utilize storytelling in your marketing strategies? Be sure to share your thoughts in our comments section, and for more help with creating effective marketing content, download our free Content Creation Guide.

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2 thoughts on “A Marketer’s Guide to Storytelling

  • Thanks for the nice article. We manage an e-commerce site and its online branding. What we have witnessed peoples as Facebook fans or Twitter followers are more interested when we post generic. People who follow us, we consider them on top of the sales funnel, direct product promotion often feel intrusive. So we worked on a story-telling mode. On social media and blogs we try to be generic as much as possible and just drop subliminal massage sometime, pointing the ‘problem’ that we could solve. Similarly on website, we have found reviews worked well with social share. Social share allow them to connect with their peers and itself create a story for us.

    • Hi Arijit,
      Thanks for your comment! We’ve also found that keeping things more generic is beneficial on social, as people don’t normally turn to these channels for highly technical (or blatantly self-promotional) articles. Thanks for sharing; I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

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