Once upon a time,
(that’s how it always starts, isn’t it?)
in a chamber of commerce meeting not far from where you are now, a great conflict was being discussed. Businesses of all kinds were struggling to find new customers. Digital marketing attempts were falling flat and lifeless. Engagement was a near mythical concept of the past, and business owners were losing hope that it might ever return. Suddenly and with great force, the door to the meeting hall was thrown open. Greyphin, the marketing magician, in flowing, grey robes stood in the doorway, holding a stack of small ornamented books. Storybooks?
“How are novels and fairytales supposed to help us?” the business owners asked. Confusion and judgement permeated the space. After whispered questions and doubts grew silent, the magician spoke.
“Storytelling is the key to digital marketing. Without it, you cannot hope to succeed. You learned the lessons in childhood, and they still surround you every day. Do not neglect them.” The magician stepped forward, offering a small book to one business owner, who opened it and slowly began to read:
When a business isn’t sure where to start,
Narrative Provides Structure
Beginning middle, and end. These are the basic components for a narrative plot. In the beginning of a story, authors introduce the characters and their personalities. In marketing, this means showing an understanding of your audience and introducing your brand as a potential part of their journey.
In the middle of a story, conflict is building and confusion abounds. Like everyone, your customers have plenty of problems, and uncertainty about how to address these problems can be confusing and frustrating. Demonstrate that you understand these struggles. Let your audience see that you know how it feels to be in their shoes.
And of course, by the end of a story, audiences crave resolution. Resolution isn’t always “happy.” It’s not always the ending we see coming, and it might still mean hard work and difficulties in the future, but it makes sense. It feels right. In marketing, this means providing a solution and persuading potential customers that it's the right path forward for them.
When social media doesn't seem worth the effort it takes,
Stories Boost Engagement
Remember Mary Poppins’ whole “spoonful of sugar” thing? Fun and entertaining content gets more engagement. Need people to comment on your content more? Perhaps it needs to be more exciting. Need it to be more sharable? Maybe add a pinch of humor or drama to it. Stories can help with all of that.
When the content is so dry it confuses and frustrates customers,
Storytelling Aids Comprehension
Not every topic can be approached through humor and lightness. When trying to promote serious and informative topics, the strategy changes, but narrative remains. Highly technical content with dense information is a chore to read. Nobody enjoys doing more work than is necessary, and sometimes readers are so tapped out, they literally cannot spare the energy to break down complex reading. The familiar structure of a narrative, makes information easier to process and comprehend. Such narratives don’t have to be fantastical to be effective, a simple timeline or a contextualizing example can help readability a lot.
When a business needs to stand out from the competition,
Characters Encourage Connection
Whether they're characters or real people, thinking about others and considering how they might feel in various situations is an act of empathy. Flexing that muscle through story means your audience is more likely to care about your brand and connect with your message. That's especially the case if the brand, business owner, employees, or its mission are characterized in the narrative. When marketing creates an image of the real people and goals of a business, it slowly replaces the negative image of a building full of salespeople and price tags.
When people are guarded and resistant to sales attempts,
Anecdotes Show Authenticity
“We had the best dinner for my birthday last night.”
“Did you empty the dehumidifier when it beeped?”
“I just haven’t enjoyed hiking since that ankle injury.”
“Did you know that when the Titanic…”
Day-to-day communication involves tons of storytelling habits. It’s an easy, natural way to make conversation. Digital marketing is no different. Content is much more likely to establish feelings of authenticity and trust through story because it feels like talking with a friend. Why cast away effective language in favor of a pushy sales pitch?
When a campaign has big goals,
Chapters Build Continuity
Marketers often talk about visual continuity. Repetition of certain elements create unity in design and message. But what about character, plot, POV, tone, setting, and theme? These are also incredibly important for establishing unity and purpose over time. When a potential customer engages with a marketing campaign for the first time, the experience is new. They're taking in a lot at once, and they're likely missing some of the finer points. Each time they see it again, continuity in these core elements enables them to instantly recall what they got from the previous exposure and build upon it, solidifying your message.
Okay, so maybe it’s not as fantastical as magicians and all that, but storytelling is actually a solution to many common marketing woes.
So, why is it ignored so often?
Well, because it’s hard work. It takes energy and strategy, and if you’re out of practice, it can be difficult to do well. That’s where we come in. Greyphin can be your marketing magician in the real world. We love this kind of work. We can tell the story, and you can get back to what you love and do best. That’s what we mean by done-for-you marketing.