We live in crazy times.
For brands, it means distracted, multitasking consumers are elusive targets. Brands want to connect with consumers, but it is difficult to get them engaged.
In the past few years, many brands have embraced social media and content marketing, but it has become a noisy digital landscape. This has left brands looking for better and different ways to do marketing and sales.
There is a new and exciting approach: Storytelling.
It is not something that many brands think much about because stories are for children, right? Well, storytelling is not just child’s play; it is how brands can create narratives that establish connections with consumers.
Stories play into the needs and interests of consumers by immersing them in experiences that relate to their personal and professional lives. Sure, it is marketing but stories are how brands can make people stop and listen—something that is increasingly challenging these days.
In many ways, stories establish an emotional connection with consumers. And consumers make many purchase decisions based on emotions.
Look at the enthusiasm, for example, that consumers have with Apple. When someone buys an Apple product, it is not just a transaction but a statement about who they are and their beliefs. This lets Apple charge premium prices when there are arguably similar and less expensive options.
Stories work because they are memorable and shareable. Stories make it easier to sell because they are not blatant "buy now" propositions but “soft sell” vehicles that gently and seamlessly bring consumers into the fold. Good stories establish loyalty and affinity and, hopefully, purchases.
So how do brands start with storytelling?
In some respects, it starts by behaving like a reporter. By that, I mean brands need to look for interesting, unique or different angles in how they do business and see the world around them. It is about creating content that engages, educates or entertains an audience, rather than simply creating content to be part of the content marketing world.
As well, storytelling is a balancing act for brands. It means weighing the need to market and sell, with providing consumers with insight and information so they can learn and, at some point, consider a purchase.
Every brand can create stories, but the reality is stories are challenging to deliver. Storytelling requires creativity, agility and being opportunistic, as well as resources (people, money, and time).
Storytelling requires brands to embrace new ways of thinking and doing business, as well as new tools.
For brands willing to make the commitment to storytelling, there is a huge window of opportunity to establish a sustainable competitive edge. Becoming a good storyteller offers the potential to stay ahead of the pack.
As more brands pound away on social media and content marketing, storytelling is the way that forward-thinking and opportunistic brands will succeed.
Storytelling is the “killer app” for brands that want to outflank the competition and win over consumers and drive higher sales.