What’s Your Story?
Capturing the attention of target audiences isn’t as easy as it used to be. It takes more than a beautiful product photo and a paragraph of support copy outlining features and benefits to reach today’s overwhelmed consumer audiences. In the event you are lucky enough to rise above the din and get their attention, they’ve seen and heard it all before.
Consumers in every category are looking for more these days. They want something to believe in, something to aspire to. More than anything, they want to see themselves reflected in the brands and products into which they invest their time and trust.
At the very least, they want to hear a good story.
Relying exclusively on features and benefits to engage encourages direct, apple-to-apple comparisons, which are the basis of commodity conversations. Stories engage emotions and imaginations.
Make your customer the hero.
It’s easy to think of marketing communications as sales pitches, but that limits their potential and power.
Storytelling is often a more effective approach to brand and product communications because it transcends the marketplace and transactional considerations to speak to the heart of the human experience.
We discover ourselves in story characters. Their challenges and triumphs quickly become our own. We celebrate and root for their good fortune because, in them, we recognize our own opportunities.
This is one reason testimonials are such powerful communication tools. Narrative, even it’s just an implied narrative, engages audiences in a multitude of ways sales pitches don’t.
If the story of Cinderella is the quintessential narrative structure and she’s your ideal customer, your brand will do well to become a handsome prince. Your product? The glass slipper that’s a perfect fit.
Try it on for size.
Most advertising and marketing appeal to the intellect. Stories leverage emotion in their appeal, resonating in the heart and gut.
That’s why movies are more popular entertainment than quick click through PowerPoint slides. People are more likely to recommend their favorite book than they are their favorite bar chart.
Hear how a print ad concept translated to a dramatic sixty-second radio spot.
Start at the beginning.
The most satisfying stories have beginnings, middles and ends that develop organically, determined by action. Successful advertising and marketing efforts motivate in a similar fashion.
To be sure your story resonates with audiences, your beginning should establish a clear brand personality and voice. The middle of your story is your opportunity to capture imaginations with what makes you unique, how you do things differently. Your story’s end, your call to action, should be an inevitable culmination of everything that comes before it.
Consider the source.
How audiences engage with digital media is transforming how they experience stories.
The linear narrative of a traditional television commercial or radio spot now competes with interactive online content that quickly, cleverly makes participating users the protagonists of incredibly personalized brand and product stories.
It’s a long way from the first primitive stories depicted in cave paintings to today’s integrated print and digital landscapes, but how you choose to communicate with your audience should inform the story you choose to tell, as well as how you tell it.