Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we communicate. Stories trigger emotional responses and hold the potential for your message to become embedded into memory.
For marketers, this is an incredibly useful skill to build brand affinity and customer loyalty.
Below we outline the four key elements of business storytelling and offer guidance on how you can use them to your advantage.
Make Your Message Human
First and foremost, research your customers and how they interact with your brand. Fundamental questions that explore their pain points can help you to frame your message in a way that will resonate.
What do we mean by ‘make it human’? Human truths, like our need to feel clean or our desire to be loved, can be exploited in brand storytelling. When we build our stories around these themes, they elicit emotional connection.
Consider Dove’s wildly successful “real beauty” campaign. The human truth they explored was our desire for acceptance, validation, and love. Telling the story of the innate beauty of the female body, regardless of shape and size, resonated with millions.
Use a Simple Structure
The best stories are simple. Just like you were told at school, your story should have a clear beginning, event, and conclusion. But for our purposes, we’re going to rejig this into ‘emotion, fact and action’.
Start with emotion. This sets the tone for the story. It’s how you want your audience to feel. In the Dove campaign, the desired response was pride and empowerment. But you may choose to focus on any number of emotions such as happiness, fear, desire, regret, etc.
Then comes fact. The middle section of your story supports the truth of your human truth and gives the message substance. Whatever your claim, make it seem genuine.
And finish with action. The best stories inspire action.
Select Your Characters
Every story needs a central character, especially brand stories. It humanises your message so that audiences can identify with your company’s role in the story.
Choose a likeable figure and build the emotional story around them. And make it powerful but real. At the end of the day, the emotional connection people have with your message is the most important part.
As prominent poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Digital marketers can’t overlook the emotional quality of their stories. After all, purchases are based on emotion, not reason.