2014 was labeled as “the Year of the Story,” but that was only the beginning. Storytelling continues to evolve as a major business strategy. It is, therefore, no surprise that a lot of brands are incorporating storytelling in their marketing strategies.
Remember the Potato Salad campaign on Kickstarter? A guy called Zack Brown from Columbus, Ohio posted his project (a simple desire to make potato salad for the very first time) on this crowdfunding website with a funding goal of $10. But he ended up raising more than $55,000 with 6,911 backers pledging money to his cause.
Zack’s story is one of the perfect examples of the power storytelling has when it comes to persuading people. Those 6,911 people who backed the project did not necessarily have the same fondness for potato salad, yet they contributed because they could relate to Zack’s story and wanted to be a part of it.
Storytelling success stories aren’t just limited to Zack Brown or to crowdfunding campaigns. As mentioned earlier, a lot of brands are leveraging storytelling to improve their marketing mix. And why not? After all, this is one of the best ways to capture attention, establish connections and engage with your target audience.
If anyone understands the value of storytelling, it is undoubtedly Apple. They have been storytelling like a boss for the last 30 years. From that legendary 1984 Macintosh ad to the more recent “Your Verse” campaign, Apple has used storytelling to conjure up strong emotions among consumers by creating a sense of ownership as well as provoking a desire to make a change through their choice.
Another example is that of Coca-Cola’s 2013 Super Bowl ad campaign that tells a story of a race through the desert in which three teams compete to get a cold coke. Coca-Cola released the first commercial two weeks prior to the big day and invited the viewers to vote for the team they wanted to win. Coca-Cola also allowed viewers to vote down the other teams by watching “sabotage” videos. They filmed 15 of these altogether, out of which 9 videos could be unlocked before the game and the remaining 6 were made accessible on game day.
Coca-Cola not only engaged their viewers through the race but also made them a part of their adventure story. Remember the ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ stories from childhood? Coca-Cola brought back the same concept and memories, but of course the adult version gets people to buy in addition to exciting them.
From Zack Brown to Apple, anyone can use storytelling as a marketing strategy. It takes the right kind of imagination and creative thinking to evoke strong human emotions. But once you are able to do that, you can consistently impress your thoughts upon your audience. The human mind is programmed in a way that we are always inclined towards stories, be it ours or those of others. When you tell a story to your visitors you are more likely to make them curious about happens next and they stay put for more.
Here are 3 ways you can impress your visitors with storytelling.
There is no denying that stories are the best ways to communicate, but when it comes to storytelling most websites are doing a very poor job. They either fail to realize that websites must be fundamentally story-driven or their stories lack depth. Understand that your story must be both emotionally resonant and deeply human. More importantly, it must go beyond word i.e. your web design must reflect your story. Your website must have rich narratives and needs to be interactive enough to provide emotionally-satisfying and rational experiences to your visitors.
Storytelling isn’t long, rambling website copy. Rather, your copy must be concise and include engaging elements such as images, animation, videos and audio to help your visitors browse through your narrative seamlessly. Most importantly, it must be fun and exciting for your visitors to get through your story. Tell them what you do and why you do it in an engaging way and of course, try to hook them within 10 seconds of their arrival.
One of the best ways to do this is by using parallax design. This design concept uses foreground and background images that move at different speeds. As a result, it creates an illusion of depth on your website and an addictive user experience as well. Keep your text to a minimum and let the animation on the page engage and entice users to see what comes next.
If you want to use elicit emotional responses from visitors, don’t just tell your story but theirs as well. We are talking about customer success stories – but please keep them real. You probably have customer testimonials in your website, it’s time to push your satisfied customers a little and ask them to tell the story of how they were delighted, so that you can delight your visitors too.
A Target advertising campaign used this concept. The company created a commercial using home videos of real students as they were opening their college acceptance letters. Dove too do something similar with their commercials. They show real women from all walks of life talking about their experiences with perceptions of beauty.
When real people tell real stories, the message becomes even more powerful. Using them over a visual medium means your campaign resonates with more people’s emotions and feelings. It helps you to build a personal relationship with your customers and convert them into loyal fans. Moreover, these people are more likely to share these stories on their social media profiles, which in turn, increases your brand mentions and social reach.
Tell your clients’ stories in a compelling, visual format and see how others get inspired from them.
More and more companies are creating brand personas in order to make their brands memorable. That said, I don’t mean you need to have a mascot, it’s more about infusing a personality to your brand. For example, real estate and insurance companies usually have a serious brand personality that is totally different from that of a fashion or gossip magazine.
Take the example of Gala Darling. This New Zealand-born author, teacher, and speaker has successfully incorporated visual storytelling to keep her visitors engaged. Her blog deals with fashion and lifestyle inspiration and Gala has also extended her sexy, sparkly branding to social media pages through visual content. All the images and videos she uploads on the blog as well as on social accounts serves to reinforce her personality and individual brand.
Start creating a character for your brand and make sure all your storytelling elements including text, images, videos and animations match your brand personality.
When an engaging story unfolds before your eyes as you scroll down a page, it evokes a rush of emotions. When your visitors read your story they can often relate to your desires, struggles, frustrations and successes, and draw inspiration from them. Therefore, storytelling is one of the best ways to engage with your visitors, making their experience memorable and encouraging them to come back for more.
How are you telling your stories to the world? Please share with us in the comments.
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