Why Storytelling Should be a Marketer’s Top Priority
Sharing stories is in our DNA. The first words that humans spoke were likely used to tell stories. The first cave paintings certainly have stories to tell. And our oldest books are filled with epic tales that we’ve been repeating for thousands of years. Even in this age of AI and VR, stories continue to capture our imaginations with their tried-and-true themes of love, courage, triumph, tragedy and more.
But why should marketers care about storytelling? Aren’t they best left to longform content like novels, movies and TV shows? In a word, no. Powerful stories can be told in minutes or less. Every winter, genius marketers fit an amazing amount of drama into 30-second Super Bowl ads that have office workers asking their coworkers, “Did you see the one about…?”
Then there are stories that can be consumed in almost no time at all. Think of classic paintings that reference moments from classic stories from the Bible or folk tales. These canvases show evidence of what just happened. They portray a moment of high drama and they invite you to imagine what happens next. That is, they’re complete stories told in oil or acrylic. (Who says marketers can’t do that on Instagram, too?)
So why isn’t your brand using stories to reach your audience? Here are three reasons why storytelling should be a marketer’s top priority.
Storytelling allows marketers to engage consumers in a fragmented media world
First things first. Before you connect with your audience, you have to make contact. These days, there is an overwhelming number of channels, platforms and formats and your audience’s attention is split between a number of them. In this fragmented landscape, your potential audience will scroll or flip past anything that doesn’t interest them. But one thing that still continues to grab people is a good story. Tell a good story and your audience will reward you with their attention. Then once you have your audience’s attention, you can tell your brand’s story or one that personifies your brand or shares its values.
Storytelling enables marketers to develop deep connections with their audience
Stories tell much more than a simple plotline. They carry an ethos, a style and very human emotions. Sharing these with people naturally makes them feel a connection with you — which is just what we marketers are looking for. This emotional connection goes much deeper than words and can potentially become the spark of a long and fruitful relationship between brand and customer.
Storytelling is a powerful educational tool
When it comes to educating your audience about your brand, it’s important to keep people entertained. After all, no one is going to stick around if your content is boring. Show someone an infographic or a report comparing pros and cons about two products and a day later, they might not even remember seeing it, much less what it contains.
Here’s where stories shine. They educate, they entertain and they inspire. If we attach people to an fMRI while they’re listening to stories, their minds literally light up. Good stories stick around for years. Make that story your brand’s story — or just associate it with your brand — and your brand has a good chance of staking out real estate in your audience’s minds.