Expert Panel: The Power of Storytelling in Content Marketing

“Marketing is storytelling. The story of your product, built into your product. The ad might be part of it, the copy might be part of it, but mostly, your product and your service and your people are all part of the story. Tell it on purpose.” 

Seth Godin

Storytelling as a way to connect with the brand, with the business or with the individual has been there for hundreds of years. However, only in the last decade marketing professionals have taken it to the next level. Teams of people are working on strategies finding ways to connect with clients and make them trust, believe in and become loyal to the brand using storytelling for content marketing as their go-to technique. 

What story to tell? What is important to say? How to connect? Where to start? These were just a few from the long list of questions running through my head when I had my very first project on building a Recruitment Technology brand. Finding a tone of voice and correct narrative specific to the Recruitment Industry was a great challenge when I first started and it took months to get this going with confidence and bringing results. I will be honest, we are still working on it, perfecting our message, thinking of better ways to bring value to the industry and to the clients.

So here at Expert Circle, we thought why don`t we ask the experts for advice and to share their experience and knowledge in how to use storytelling for content marketing. We assembled a great collection of answers and we are delighted to share them with the world! 

Enjoy the read,

Larysa Chaplin

What is Storytelling?

Neil Patel

Storytelling is the art of communicating your idea, message or event, by creatively weaving words, images, and sounds into a narrative. Visual stories, written stories, and verbal stories – this is the content we love.

When you tell a true story, your message is perceived as authentic. In the same way that live events get more retweets than general tweets on social media channels, your content will impact the lives of your target market, and improve your credibility.

Why should you use corporate storytelling in content marketing? We breathe visual stories. Even in the Stone Age, humans understood how to tell stories that evoked interest and made that emotional connection.

And, it’s one of the most effective ways to engage and persuade your audience.

Humans are born storytellers and adore visual communication. Storytelling gives life or meaning to a scenario and makes that emotional connection, provoking feelings of ecstasy, sorrow, or peace, and captivating your audience. This is exactly what you need when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.

It is little wonder that posts with visual stories and visual communication generate more Facebook and media channel shares than any other content type.

As it turns out, visual stories and communication (e.g., infographics, videos, memes, screenshots) get widely shared on major social media channels.

Your potential customers aren’t looking for another sales pitch or a proposal that sounds too good to be true. They’ve heard enough of those.

For example, when you write, use relevant images and great visual stories that pique people’s interest.

Or, if you’re recording a podcast, you could use emotion-triggering music and sounds. For video creation, you can use words, images, visual stories, and sounds at the same time.

A study conducted by Forrester Research found that 88% of executives and organizational decision-makers long to have conversations, not pushy sales presentations.

With visual stories, you can create and promote infographics, which have collectively generated over 2,500,000 million visitors and 41,142 backlinks for me, over a two-year span.

You can also create visual stories and content and submit it to authoritative media sites and platforms, such as Slideshare, Vimeo, and Animoto. This helps you gain a new target market and potential customers for your business.

Great Storytelling on Social Media

Gary Vaynerchuk

In a world where there’s an enormous amount of social content, if you don’t make someone stop what they are doing and create a response, you are going to lose. Whether that’s an action or an emotion, the true test of storytelling is how you feel or what you do after you consume it.

A few months ago I bought flowers for the entire NYC VaynerMedia office. It wasn’t a holiday and therefore it was entirely unexpected so it evoked a feeling of surprise and delight. People were pleased and the reaction was a mix of happiness, positivity and a boosted morale. If that day was Valentine’s Day it might have been a little bit more expected and the story would have been more cliche and therefore wouldn’t evoke as much of a response. It’s all about the setup, the punchline and hacking people’s expectations.

In a sea of a million stories, a great one is going to make you react.

When I sit here and evaluate the differences between blockbuster Hollywood and social media, I think about context. The actual story can be quite similar but you have to consider the room you’re telling it in.

If you’re telling a story from a park bench to three old guys playing chess you’re going to present it a little differently than you would share that same story in an auditorium at Radio City Music Hall. It all depends on the room you’re in and the context with which it lives.

Do people want fireworks and embellishments and fancy set design because they have paid $190 a ticket and dressed up and went to Broadway or are they willing to accept the 60-second story on social media in between checking emails or walking to lunch?

Storytelling in Marketing

Dennis Shiao

Most brands are poor at brand storytelling. They take the “brand” component too literally and make it all about them. Or they create content without a real story.

Done well, brand storytelling can be not only a differentiator but a memorable opportunity to draw and engage an audience.

Six questions to draw out brand stories by Debbie Williams:

  • What’s your reason for being?
  • What’s your history?
  • Who are your main characters?
  • What’s your corporate mission?
  • How have you failed?
  • Where are your gaps?

For a brand story to work, it must go beyond a brand’s products and services. “You have to create something that they [members of your audience] want to be a part of and show that you really ‘get’ who they are and what they need,” 

Why Is Storytelling Important for Marketing?

Joydeep Bhattacharya

Successful businesses are built on effective stories. People love to see, read or hear stories because it creates a human connection based on empathy.

The best marketers in the world leverage the power of storytelling to improve branding and conversion rates. What do stories have to do with marketing?

A good story should be:

  • Contagious
  • Easy to understand
  • Emotive
  • Believable (unless it’s a fairy tale or a Quentin Tarantino film)
  • Useful
  • Inspiring
  • Inclusive

From oral storytelling in prehistoric times to hieroglyphic storytelling in Ancient Egypt to our modern-day movies, stories have always found a special place in our lives. When there are sufficient details and authentic emotions in the tale, the listener or reader is able to connect to a story easily – and brands can use this device to make people understand how their products add value to their lives:

Here are some of the primary reasons why storytelling is an absolute necessity for marketing:

  • It helps to build a deeper and stronger connection with the audience.
  • It adds a human element to your content and, thus, brand.
  • Storytelling goes beyond advertising; it makes people trust your brand much more easily.
  • It lets businesses engage with customers in a fragmented media world.
  • Stories helps bind your content together which otherwise might seem scattered.
  • Stories help share your brand vision in the most pleasant manner.
  • A business with a great story is able to defeat its competitors easily.
  • Stories are the most successful weapon to create brand loyalty, which means that people are much more willing to promote your product or brand by word-of-mouth marketing, which is the best way to popularize a business.

The essence of B2B storytelling

Amanda Sparks

The process begins with one crucial question that you have to answer:

What would the world look like without your product/service?

Although it may seem like an easy question to answer, chances are you’ll find it a bit hard to do that because we tend to take everything we have for granted.

Take a moment and imagine how your customers would live if they didn’t have computers, smartphones, or the Internet.

Then, think about the challenges they would have if they didn’t have your product or couldn’t use your service.

For example, if they didn’t have the invoicing software, they would have to use the expensive services of an accountant or a billing clerk, which would also take a lot more time.

Once you answer this question, you can become a storyteller.

Every organization can have a unique story because it has a unique mission, vision, and strategy to achieve them.

Sell to the heart and brain will follow- How does storytelling help with winning clients?

Olesija Saue

Every happy relationship consists of many moments spent together, shared experiences, and adventures, the best of which become stories to tell your grandchildren. Likewise, stories are the best way to create and develop your brand. People will not remember facts, numbers or features. But they will remember exciting and moving authentic stories. Or, as American poet and singer Maya Angelou says, “They will remember how you made them feel.”

Neuroscientists believe that listening to stories enhances people’s neuro-cognitive abilities. When people are emotionally involved, they can identify better with your brand and understand your values. Stories speak to your customer’s feelings and create an emotional affinity, allowing the more rational arguments to be heard. Emotion is what really drives our purchasing behaviours and buying decisions are always the result of a change in the customer’s emotional state. When you connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge. So if you want to win your customers, start talking to their heart.

One of the most powerful tools for creating emotions in your customers is storytelling. In an era of information overload, the only thing that truly sets you apart is your story.

Storytelling provides a human face to a brand and helps create an emotional relationship with it. Stories are powerful tools for attracting attention, and storytelling is a notable business skill, which enables you to interact with your customers on an emotional level, offering inspiration, motivation, as well as an opportunity to educate yourself. In addition, storytelling makes potential customers subconsciously choose products and services that tell such stories which fit their lives, dreams and wishes.

A story of how your brand came to life, your customer’s real stories, exciting stories in product development are more valuable than a well crafted advertisement.

But the story alone is not enough. It also needs to be told and shared.

Stories can be told and developed on different platforms, but it is essential to think about the experience of the people who are told the story and whether and how they can tell it to others and add to it.

Good storytelling skills have never been as vital as they are today. Storytelling is a great way to stand out, communicate your brand, introduce it to others, and build emotional bonds. The purpose of the story is to appeal to your target group and convey your values and goals through it.

Authenticity and relevance

One of the most critical qualities in sharing your story is authenticity and relevance. Still, it is also important to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time. Once you have created the story, developed it and thought about sharing it, your next step is to plan how to keep it updated. When working on this task, be sure to think about possible user-generated content. Then, when you find a way to make it work for you, it offers you an incredible amount of opportunities.

Last but not least, you have to create a strong content plan to produce engaging content. In the information society where a tremendous amount of different content is consumed, it is crucial to find the format, place and time that appeal to your target groups. It must match the image you are creating and be appropriate for the channel you are using. You need to offer real stories and real value to your followers, not bombard them with your product or service all the time. Also, don’t keep to one type of media – use pictures, videos, graphs and other styles and do it consistently.

Storytelling is the ultimate tool of persuasion.

You can create an iconic brand by designing and constantly developing your unique story, telling it and adding to it and keeping it updated. Brands, as well as individuals who tell stories –emotional and genuine stories- connect with their customers in far deeper level than their competitors. 

So what your story would be? And how would you make your customers fall in love?

5 Tips To Get Started with Storytelling

Ayush Mishra

Storytelling is an amazing method for correspondence and it’s likewise an incredible method to draw in new clients to your business! You can utilize stories to acquire trust, and to associate with imminent clients, making them substantially more willing to work with you.

Helpful tips to get started with storytelling?

Pick a focused message 

 An incredible story normally advances towards a focused message. While creating a story, you ought to have a positive thought of what you’re working toward. On the off chance that your story has a solid good part, you’ll need to manage audience members or perusers to that message.

Never Shy 

 As a storyteller, you should avoid shyness. Incredible storytellers make stories that have a wide range of obstructions and difficulties flung in the way of their heroes. To be happy with a cheerful consummation, crowds need to watch the fundamental characters battle to accomplish their objectives. It’s OK to be pitiless to your principal characters—truth be told, it’s vital. Convincing plots are based on struggle, and it’s basic that you embrace conflict and show to improve as a storyteller.

Have a clear structure 

There is a wide range of approaches to structure a story, yet the three fixings a story should have are a start, centre, and end. On a more granular level, a fruitful story will begin with an impelling occurrence, lead into rising activity, work to a peak and eventually sink into a wonderful goal.

There are numerous books and online assets that can assist you with bettering these terms and familiarize you with other storytelling methods. Extra bits of knowledge into story construction can be gathered by presenting yourself to extraordinary storytellers in writing and film and working on spreading out your own accounts on paper so you can notice their shape and design.

Share your personal experiences 

 Regardless of whether you are recounting a genuine story straightforwardly dependent on close-to-home insight, you can generally seek your life for motivation when concocting new stories. Consider significant encounters in your reality and how you could possibly make them into accounts.

Engage with your audience

You need to engage with your audience to become a good storyteller, however, quite a bit of how you enamour your crowd relies on the method of storytelling you’re utilizing. In case you’re perusing a short story before a group of people, you should mess with bringing your look off the page from time to time to visually connect with your crowd. In case you’re recording an account digital broadcast, so much relies on the expressiveness of your voice and your capacity to pass on feeling with your tone. Notwithstanding, you decide to recount your story, try to think about your crowd.

Now you are ready to get started with storytelling.

How does storytelling help in winning clients? What are the helpful tips to get started with storytelling?

Ekta Swarnkar

I think one of the best ways to sell products is storytelling. Storytelling is a great technique to walk a random browser visitor from a problem to a solution and turn him into a customer. Of course there is a lot of planning to be done but when a story is told in such a way that it connects with your visitors they are ready to buy.

I think the best way to get this done is to start your story with a problem, probably something that your product solves, and then how life would be after using your product, this is to tell visitors they can live a stress-free life after using your product, and then you introduce your product as the only solution.

Some points to keep in mind while writing a story are

  • Make sure your story connects with your ideal clients.
  • Your product solves the problem.
  • Focusing the customer as the hero of the story is very helpful.
  • Don’t add any distractions like a link to other pages and more.

Precision in storytelling

David Leonhardt

Storytelling is the essence of sales, whether it’s a product, a service or an idea. The most common element of storytelling that marketers need to use is precision.

There are actually two reasons that precision is crucial. The most commonly cited reason has nothing to do with marketing or sales; it’s for credibility.

Simply put, you sound more credible saying that a tool got you 523 sign-ups than saying it got you 500. That is because when people don’t have the numbers at their finger tips, they tend to make up round numbers. If you give a highly precise-sounding number, people assume the number is real, proven, true. It doesn’t sound made-up.

But any storyteller can tell you the importance of precision also to captivating an audience. That’s because a story works best when people feel like it’s real and tangible. Vague words don’t paint vivid pictures. Adjectives don’t work as well as precise nouns. Adverbs don’t work as well as precise verbs. Paint a picture so real that prospects want to reach out and touch your story.

That’s the power of precision in storytelling.

 

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