What exactly makes a B2B marketing campaign successful? This is a question that marketing teams around the world ask themselves everyday. With so many options and so much competition out there today, it’s incredibly difficult to find ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd.
The whole point of marketing is to try to sway your target audience. The end goal is to successfully influence their decision and hopefully convert them into a loyal customer. But how? With stories . . . or more specifically, effective storytelling with content marketing.
Weaving stories throughout your content marketing can lead to huge gains in your marketing campaigns’ conversion rate. In fact, up to 92% of consumers want brands to make ads and build marketing campaigns that feel like stories.
Why is story driven content successful, and actually preferred among consumers? Simple . . . your brain.
The Effects of Storytelling on Your Brain
The human brain is truly complex, and we are only now beginning to scratch the surface. Through decades of rigorous scientific studies and countless advancements we have gradually been able to learn just how the brain functions.
As great as statistics and cold hard facts are, the brain is actually more engaged by storytelling. This makes it easier to learn and retain information presented in the form of a story. By simply delivering your message with storytelling, you can make it up to 22x more effective.
Why is this? It turns out, the brain does not make a distinction between reading about something . . . and actually experiencing it. Strangely enough that means if you are reading a well written piece of literary fiction describing a wonderful evening of laughter and friends, the brain processes and interprets that information exactly the same as it would if it were happening to you in real life.
It’s for this same reason that reading an atmospheric horror novel can make your hair stand on end or give you a feeling of dread. Your brain is actually taking in that information as if you were in that situation, and your body reacts accordingly.
Stories Create Emotional Responses
The brain interpreting and reacting in this way creates a very real and emotional connection in people when they are reading or watching content. It’s this emotional response and connection that can be key to your content generating results.
Some of the most successful campaigns in history have centered around provoking and exploiting an emotional response from their audience. Take Nike for example. Their famous “Just Do It” campaign was built around telling stories that illustrated no matter what your occupation, age, or gender, you could do anything. Their product could help you accomplish your goals.
This feeling of empowerment drove millions to rush out and buy every new style Nike created, and in the process turned the company into a corporate juggernaut. Following Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign their domestic market share shot through the roof, climbing from 18% to 43%.
The unique brand of storytelling employed by Nike was the key to their success. It’s important to note, however, how they framed their story. The brand was never presented as the hero. It was the customer. The shoe itself wasn’t amazing, but what it enabled the customer to be and do was.
This story driven campaign style successfully evoked emotion and consequently led to a huge boom in business for Nike. How exactly did they do it? Nike was employing a form of what is called the “monomyth”, more commonly referred to as the hero’s journey. So, what is the hero’s journey?
The Characteristics of the Hero’s Journey
The hero’s journey was first described by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In it, he observed that regardless of geographical location or cultural differences, all of humanity was engaged by and essentially telling variations of the exact same story. Based on this observation he went on to describe 17 distinct stages or steps that together make up what he called the “monomyth”. These steps would later be embraced and come to be known as the hero’s journey.
Not every story will feature all 17 steps, and some aspects may change slightly, but in general stories tend to follow the rough structure he outlined. For a far more in depth look at the hero’s journey you can refer to our previous article, What is the Hero’s Journey? For the purposes of this article we will focus on three main points of the hero’s journey.
1. Call to Action
- A normal person is faced with evil or adversity
2. Supernatural Aid
- A mentor, sometimes in the form of a supernatural entity, arrives to show the person what they are capable of and gives them the confidence or skills to battle the evil forces.
3. The Master of Two Worlds
- The hero battles and defeats the evil and brings peace./li>
Using the Hero’s Journey in Your Content Marketing
Knowing that consumers crave content driven by story presents marketers with a unique opportunity. But how can they tell a story and be as effective as possible? The hero’s journey. By using the structure of the hero’s journey to tell a story that informs your customer or potential customers about your product in some way you are also providing value to them.
Content marketing is a great way to not only supply potential customers with the content they crave, but also illustrate exactly how your product or services can help them.
Make the Audience the Hero of Their Own Story
The Evil Adversary –
A pain point in the customer’s life that your product solves.
The Wise Mentor –
Your brand or company shows the customer how they can overcome this problem.
The Customer Becomes the Conquering Hero –
Our hero, the customer, conquers their problems and stands victorious.
While this can be a tremendously effective tool it is important to always remember one thing. Your brand is not the hero. The customer is the hero. They are overcoming the struggle and you are simply providing them with a means or tool to accomplish that feat.
Your Brand Benefits From the Hero’s Journey and Effective Content Marketing
The hero’s journey is universal and crosses all barriers and borders. Everyone wants to be seen as the hero and it’s your job to show potential customers that they are. Content marketing is a great way to provide useful and informative content to customers, and show them how they can be the hero of their own story.
Building campaigns around framing your target audience as the hero allows you to use the time tested formula of the hero’s journey and tap into the emotional connections created through storytelling and drive them to make a purchasing decision.
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