Despite the growing concern over content shock and sponsored posts, plenty of businesses and digital marketing agencies are investing big on content marketing.
According to the 2016 B2C North America Content Marketing report from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, marketers plan on putting 32 percent of their total marketing budget on this strategy. This shows how valuable this approach is when it comes to helping businesses achieve their goals. Meanwhile, 77 percent of respondents said they intend on producing more content now than in previous years.
With the demand for content marketing, it’s not surprising that the industry is abuzz with terms such as storytelling. Experts everywhere recommend it: whether you’re in video, image, or copywriting.
But what is it really about?
Is storytelling the same as blogging?
If not, how can digital marketers today integrate it flawlessly into their strategies?
Blogging as Storytelling?
In one article, growth marketer and conversion copywriter John Bonini explains how blogging is NOT the same as storytelling. Basically, it’s because of the following reasons:
- Storytelling requires emotional value; a connection with audiences
- Storytelling drives people to action, as when audiences cry during sad films or laugh during a comedy skit
Blogging is simple because anybody can have one. But in storytelling, you need certain components that harmonize with one another in order to compel people to action. Similar to popular pop fiction, there has to be a character (WHO), a setting (WHERE), and a purpose (WHY).
A good example would be the coffee chain, Starbucks. The brand claims that they have the ‘best coffee and espresso drinks’. Of course, plenty of people would argue that they do not. But why are they such a hit worldwide despite pricey products and involvement in several infamous marketing stints? It’s because theirs is a story that anybody can relate to: the need for good coffee and good company.
Buying at Starbucks is buying an experience – not just a hot cup of joe. As told in their Company Information page, one of their goals is to offer a sense of community. The brand expects their customers to treat them like a friendly, lively place to head over to after work. Part of the routine. In an age where home may feel stifling and work is usually as hectic as your house, Starbucks offers the best solution.
Their blog and social media accounts feature stories that bring value to their target market.
From stimulating photos of colorful drinks, sunshine, and delicious food, to coffee guides, how-to’s, and sustainable innovations, Starbucks has nailed the storytelling game.
If you’re into blogging right now or you have your own business blog, that’s a good start – but it’s not great (yet!). What you want is to let content marketing work for you through storytelling, not the other way around. Continue blogging, but explore other options. Here’s how.
3 Ways to Better Storytelling
You can create wonderful stories by following this simple formula from brand story strategist Park Howell: structure what you want to say, then simply replace your ‘ands’ with ‘buts’ and ‘therefores’. Here’s a quick example:
“Al wants great coffee that he can just grab before going work. And he has tried most coffee products out there. But it still takes a significant amount of time before he can get the perfect cup. Therefore, Starbucks coffee is the best brew for Al.”
Once you have that figured out, you can simply tweak it to fit any platform or campaign. Incorporate this method on these three storytelling tips today:
1. Try other mediums outside your blog.
While your own website is a great source of traffic, joining other online communities can do wonders for your business or brand. Platforms like Medium and Maptia make storytelling fun, immersive, and stunning. Plus, you’ll get to meet dozens of like-minded folks who share your passion. Don’t just write about your experience – show it through beautiful images or inspiring quotes. Make them jump out of the screen.
2. Focus on people and experiences.
Products are nice – but they lack depth. In fact, many brands have gone to adding human personalities into their merchandise just to attract audiences. Either that or they always include people in the mix. Appliance maker, Whirlpool for instance, has managed to increase their sales with their ‘Every day, Care’ marketing campaign.
Featuring videos of ‘thankless’ tasks in daily lives of average households, their content has garnered not only positive reviews but also a big impact on their bottom line.
3. Tap into all senses.
One of the reasons why storytelling is so effective is because this approach is able to tap into all the senses. Effective stories are able to stimulate our brains into producing oxytocin, a neurochemical that’s responsible for feelings of trust, empathy, and happiness.
In one research, sales of Pinot Noir wine increased after watching the movie, ‘Sideways’. In the film, actor Paul Giamatti declares his love for Pinot Noir and in one scene, refuses to touch Merlot. This result is now known as the ‘Sideways Effect.’
One type of content that can reproduce such effect is video. As it combines both audio and visual stimulations, it’s twice as effective in compelling audiences to take action. Consider famous YouTubers who have made a killing out of creative video storytelling.
Before jumping on the bandwagon, beware of storytelling bloopers that have happened to several businesses now. Always go back to your company mission or objectives. What do you aim to achieve with this strategy? Who will benefit from it? What methods will you use? The more specific you are, the better the outcome will be.