Effective Marketing Tells a Story

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Have you noticed that a lot of today’s biggest brands are telling stories with their ads? Don’t believe me? Did you happen to watch a little thing called the Super Bowl this year? The big game has become ground zero for advertisers looking to make a splash. This year the going rate for a 30 second commercial was over 5 million dollars.
Dr Evil

Source: Giphy

If you’re spending that kind of money you had better be ready with a killer ad right? Did you notice a common theme with some of the bigger ads? Take these two high-profile spots for example:

What do they have in common? And no I’m not talking about the fact they’re both commercials for beers. They both feature their product in a positive light in the larger picture of telling a story. Whether it’s pointing out how empty it must feel for the perfect machine to never have that thirst-quenching nightcap (ha! Take that robot overlords…just kidding. I know our time is near, please spare me wise metal ones), or bringing together two beloved characters to share an out of the ordinary drink choice (to the shock of everyone apparently), these two ads don’t just say buy our product. Instead they have found a way to weave their product into the fabric of a story (way to go beer guys…y’all are pretty good at this).

So, what’s the deal with all these stories? Simply put it works. Why? Science.

Science and Stortytelling?

 
What makes storytelling so effective? Because humans are hard-wired to understand and seek out stories. Not only do our brains crave stories, but the brain actually reacts as it processes a story. Without getting too far into the weeds here this basically means that when you listen to a story unfold your brain actually reacts as if you were performing the actions in said story. Meaning if you read about doing a cart-wheel, your brain actually fires in the areas necessary and processes the information as if you had actually just performed a cart-wheel. Pretty neat huh? If you’d like to get a little deeper into this phenomenon you can check out Dr. Veronica Boulenger’s study, “Interwoven Functionality of the Brains Action and Language Systems”(be warned, you may need some hip waders, it gets pretty deep).

Taking this a step further, stories actually simulate a feeling of experience. When we watch movies we go through a range of emotions. Laughther, sorrow, anger, and many more. Why? Because we identify with the characters and actions on the screen as if they were us. These stories actually take us on an emotional ride and in the end it’s as if we have been through the experience.

As we go through the process of this experience we feel emotions, and emotions help solidify preferences, and it’s those preferences that influence our decisions. And there it is. Did you catch it? Influence our decisions. Stories take us on a journey that ultimately culminates in shaping and influencing our decisions. That’s why storytelling matters. Now that you know the science behind it, what can you do with it?

Tell Better Stories

 
Tell Better Stories
Now you know how valuable stories can be to your marketing efforts. So the next logical question is, how can you tell better stories?

Take the Focus Off Yourself

This may sound counter-intuitive. After I just took all that time to tell you how storytelling affects the brain and how you should be using it I tell you not to talk about yourself. What exactly do I mean by take the focus off yourself?

Basically far too many times we have the tendency to make everything about us. Our product is great because of this. This is why we’re awesome, etc. What we need to do, however, is focus on the customer. Your company isn’t the hero. Your product isn’t the hero. Your customer is the hero. Your company and products are just tools they, the hero, use.

Keep Your Message Concise

If you can keep your content concise and to the point do it. Short and sweet you know? There’s no need to waste their time to impress them with your mastery of the English language. We humans have pretty short attention spans you know.

Embrace Visual Storytelling

Why tell someone something when you can show them instead? What can I say? People love pictures. A page with nothing but text can easily be skimmed over or ignored. Put some bright beautiful images on that same page and you will find people spend more time there. Why? We love visuals. Use every tool you have to tell a better story. Add images to written content to help illustrate your points and grab attention. If you can branch into video content and really get the ball going with your storytelling.

Give the People What They Want: More Stories

 
People want stories. They love stories. They respond to stories. It’s essentially programmed into our DNA. So, what are you doing with your marketing? Are you telling effective stories or are you just bragging about how great you are?

Make sure you frame your customers as the heroes of your story and do all you can to develop quality content. Embrace the tactics we’ve discussed and take advantage of the science of storytelling.
 

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