While all of us would love to work on creative plans for dynamic, contemporary companies with cutting edge styles or technology, the truth is that most consumers spend their money on things that are a little more mundane. From car tires to work boots to accounting services, these companies all need great marketing to get ahead. Finding an exciting angle, on the other hand, can seem a little challenging.
While the obvious product or service might seem boring, to add a little excitement to a brand, you have to stop thinking in terms of advertising the product and move towards selling the company itself. Storytelling lets consumers get to know a company, it takes them on a journey and stirs up emotions. Storytelling makes a connection on a more personal level and gets consumers to feel aligned with a company rather than excited about its brand or its products.
How to Incorporate Stories Using Content
Draw inspiration from all around the company. From the owner who brought the company up from nothing to the kid sorting the mail, everyone has a story to tell. Dig through customer comment cards and online surveys to see if anyone has shared anything that is inspiring. While you're working on your stories, remember these key points:
- Be Real. Base every story you tell on the reality of the company or brand you're describing. Although your stories can be fictional, they should still maintain some consistency so consumers know what to expect.
- Create Characters to Cheer For. The heart of every story is a hero or a villain who people can connect with and cheer for or against. Create fictional characters based on the buyer personas you're using for the rest of your content.
- Be Emotional. Stories are all about emotional connections so be sure to use lots of emotional language and compelling imagery throughout your stories.
Easy on the Branding
One common thread through all these ideas is that none of them include branded content. This type of content can be used successfully as part of a larger marketing plan, but stories usually don't have a place for a bunch of advertisements. It's one thing to share a story of a customer who bought your work boots and include a picture of her with the boots on. It's another thing entirely to create a whole story around how your boots make her life worth living.
4 Examples of Stories that Work
Since storytelling involves a lot of creativity and can't really be broken down into a formula, here's a few examples of successful storytelling in marketing so you can get an idea of how to use it.
- Mayhem. This hilarious anti-hero has changed the face of sleepy insurance to something that is completely relatable. Allstate's Mayhem is the physical embodiment of all the things that can go wrong, and he illustrates why insurance is a good thing without actually selling it.
- This is Wholesome. Honey Maid Graham Crackers got a lot of attention for this campaign for showcasing diversity while portraying it as simply normal. It is, however, a great way to see storytelling at it's finest. It's just a series of families going about their lives, and they happen to like graham crackers.
- Land O' Lakes. This entire website feels like Grandma's Kitchen. You want to get a hot mug of tea and listen to her tell stories while she bakes buttery delights. Every inch of this website has a story to tell. For example, this blog post starts with the writer sharing a story about the dinnertime meltdowns she's working through with her toddler, moves on to a tasty weeknight recipe, and ends with confirmation that said toddler did not melt down over these enchiladas. Brilliant.
- GE Reports. "Where does the human end and the machine begin?" This website is dedicated to telling stories from around the world about science and technology while quietly positioning GE as an innovative, thoughtful company. Take a look at this post. The photo alone tells a story, but the post below really hits home.
From insurance to butter to washing machines, even the most mundane consumer transactions can be transformed into a meaningful story. Find the story behind the company you're marketing, and see where opportunities lie to make a connection. Show people what there is to laugh about, think about, cry about, or rejoice about, and they will be happy to make the journey with you.