How to Use Storytelling as a Marketing Strategy

We love stories. Everywhere from Hollywood to the most remote places on Earth, people are always craving a good story to make them laugh, cry and love.

From the very beginning of humanity, stories defined our culture

Stories connect people and make them more willing to trust you. That’s why using storytelling as a marketing branding strategy is trending.

With so many stories available, your story has to stand out. To make a story valuable, check out these ideas:

Know What You Want

If you want to use storytelling to actually sell your product, it’s a good idea to write about your customers and how your company can help them overcome a difficulty.

If you want to strengthen your brand and create awareness, talk about how your company was founded, who your employees are or how your office routine runs.

Choose Your Media

You can think of storytelling the way you think of digital marketing: pictures are better than just text, and video is better than just pictures.

Be Honest

To use stories as a marketing strategy is not a new idea; however, honesty is crucial in a world where you can easily get fact-checked.

Brands have used untrue stories (or “fake authenticity”) and got criticized for it, such as fashion brand Hollister and Brazilian ice cream business Diletto. So, if you’re using a fictional story, make sure it is not misleading your customers and remember not to get caught in a web.

Use Characters

Imagine you run an accountability office and you announce that your business has three thousand clients. People might not know if that’s a dream number, less than standard or just average. It’s a piece of vague information to those outside the industry.

Now, let’s use the story of Julie in your campaign, a woman who has worked hard as a cook her entire life and now has finally opened her own coffee shop. She bakes awesome cakes but doesn’t know the first thing about taxes. With the help of your office, she will be able to run her business and even open a second shop.

When you use a character, your story gets personal and people see themselves as part of it. Using only facts and numbers is a valid marketing strategy, but it’s not storytelling.

Solve Problems

What’s a good story without a villain, right? The antagonist doesn’t have to be a person: it can be time, money, loneliness or whatever other problem your company is willing to solve.

For example, watch this video:

The villain is the modern day routine that keeps our protagonist far from  “taking it easy”. The soda is presented as the solution to this conflict.

The video never says  “drink Coca-Cola.” It didn’t have to. A good story doesn’t need to be explicit about its goals. Subtle is key.

Use the Three Acts Structure

This is the most basic story structure that you can identify  in any movie, book, comic book strip or lecture:

1) Introduction

2) Conflict

3) Resolution

A good use of this technique is the Refinery29 case. This lifestyle website tested the use of the three acts structure on a carousel in Facebook Ads.

The first picture included brand history and character introduction. The second one showed the product and created the conflict: how to access more info? The final picture resolved it by inviting the user to subscribe.

When facing off with the non-storytelling advertising carousel (that was set as an AB test), the storytelling structure generated 87% more access to the website and 56% more conversions.

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You now have the resources you need to set storytelling for marketing up in different narratives, platforms and characters. Don’t forget to have fun – after all, that’s what good stories are for!

Written by
Thais Macedo
With experience in journalism and Digital Marketing, Thaís loves writing, traveling and learning new things.
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