How to use storytelling in marketing

Herman Pool

Storytelling has long been thought of as one of the strongest weapons in marketing. It’s not just speculation though. Modern psychology backs up the idea of storytelling as being a very powerful way to get your message deep into the mind of your prospect.

StorytellingPsychologists Melanie Green and Tim Brock have delved deep into what they call “transportation into narrative world”, which they say is “a type of mental involvement that may facilitate the integration of knowledge from the narrative world into real-world judgements”. To put it more simply, people will put themselves in the position of a character in the story and make real-world decisions based on the impact of the story.

People are often defensive when you come at them with straight data. Some people simply get bored with hearing facts and figures read off a powerpoint. However, people love hearing a good story.

If you can take your product or service message and integrate it into a story, then you have a winning combination. Allstate is doing a great job with that right now in their “Mayhem” campaign. The campaign features a character named Mayhem who causes trouble while telling you the story about how much pain that trouble is going to cause you. By this time you can identify with the poor person who is a victim of Mayhem, it’s at this point that Mayhem adds something to the effect of, “Should have called Allstate, they would take care of this mess and make it good as new.” The Mayhem character Facebook page has around 1.6 million fans and was ranked by Facebook to be in its top 5 brands globally.

The best part about storytelling-based marketing is that you don’t have to be a giant company with a huge budget to do it. All you need is a little imagination.

Here are a few tips that can help you create a story to help market your products or services.

Start With How Your Product Helps People

The easiest way to start writing a story to market is to start by considering the benefit and emotional feeling a customer gets by using your product or service.

For instance, if you have a backup and disaster recovery service that keeps the clients data safe in the event of a disaster you could fashion stories around themes like:

  • How your product saved Joe’s business when a hard drive died unexpectedly
  • How Nancy was able to keep her business running without losing income after a major storm

The really nice thing about thinking in these terms is that this can lead you to think of actual events where your product has helped with someone. This makes writing the story incredibly easy.

Treat it like a Story

When you find an actual event where your product helped someone, don’t just make it a bunch of facts. Tell readers about what happened in story format. Remember to include these basic elements when writing your marketing story.

Introduction: Setup your introduction to allow readers to identify and feel close to your stories characters. Draw on common emotional needs of your target prospects.

The Problem: Delve deep into the problems the character faces and the emotional struggles the character feels. This allows the reader to put themselves into the narrative world.

The Solution: Just as your character is dealing with the harsh problem your company or product can be presented as a hero to save the day.

The Resolution: Be descriptive about the positive emotion your characters feel once the day is saved. Studies show people are often best motivated to buy based on the feeling they get after they use a product or service.

Take Action

Check with your clients and start asking them to send in their own stories. I’ll bet you get more responses than you think. Once you have some client feedback, get with your team and start writing.

Science is showing that storytelling is a proven way to get your message through to prospects who are normally unreceptive to other forms of marketing. Make sure to ad this weapon to your company’s marketing arsenal.