Why use stories in your marketing?
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” — Robert McKee.
Since early civilisation, storytelling has been a tool to communicate ideas. Stories educate and persuade. In other words, stories sell. And are a great tool for getting the outcome you want.
Likeability a key factor
Research shows that likeability is one of the main drivers behind buying decisions. Telling a story is one way to make you more ‘likeable’. A good story about yourself, your product or your brand makes you stand out. Stories are always remembered. Good stories with a high likeability factor influence buying decisions. That is by 3 to 1 for television commercials and 2 to 1 for other ads.
“A story is a journey that moves the listener. When the listener goes on that journey, they feel different, and the result is persuasion and sometimes action.” – Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Stories activate the sensory areas of the brain
Stories engage several parts of the brain. Also, language and logic activate sensory stimuli. For example, a study by Atlanta’s Emory Institute had participants read the novel Pompeii. Participants then had MRI scans. The study found activity increased in the left temporal cortex by reading the novel. In addition, the left temporal cortex is associated with language. When we think about an action, it triggers the same brain regions as if we were performing the movement. Gregory Berns, the lead author of the study, said, “The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the protagonist’s body.”
Compare this to what the brain does when it takes in facts and data. When looking at data, the language areas of the brain light up, but not the emotional and sensory areas. Instead, stories trigger the language areas of the brain. In other words, your story engages your audience in ways data can’t. Also, they’re feeling and experiencing the story. People forget statistics and facts, but they don’t forget a good story.
Stories improve message retention
Message retention improves when you relate a story that your audience cares about. According to Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business, “Stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone.” Further, she says, “We are wired to remember stories much more than data, facts, and figures studies show. However, when data and story are used together, audiences are emotionally and intellectually moved.”
Stories are memorable because of the emotional connection and because they stand out. Amid all the content clutter of the internet, a story gets attention. Think for a minute of the many articles you can find online that offer X number of tips for doing something. They’re all generic. But what if you found a compelling story that ends with a list of takeaway tips? That’s something you’d be more likely to get your attention.
Social media and content marketing plays a big role
With the explosive growth of content marketing, stories are more important than ever. The social media influence is significant. Online, advertising messages are not broadcasted as we did for TV and print. Effective online marketing doesn’t sell but informs and entertains. Stories offer an effective way to do this. Product recall is higher with stories. And, stories create an emotional connection between your target market and your product.
- Storytelling is integral to your content marketing. It doesn’t matter what products or services you sell.
- Customised stories to fit the purpose of your marketing and communication strategy. For example, company and brand stories, product stories, personal stories, customer stories, etc.
- Select different story types to connect with your target market. Align them with your messaging goals.
- Position key elements within the story to make critical points stand out. This improves effectiveness regardless of the format used.
- Customer quotes and metrics confirm outcomes and results.
- Select the best media to communicate your story and engage your target market.
- Once written, repurpose your story and distribute it through different media channels. This increases visibility and creates the desired demand for your product or service.
- Critical to the success of any story in your marketing is developing a Strategic Story Plan.