Storytelling is using a narrative to encourage people’s imagination, transmit certain messages and motivate the audience to take action. Marketers use storytelling to increase consumers’ brand loyalty and inspire them to buy a company’s products.
In the article, we explain what storytelling is and why it is essential, and describe its types and effective techniques. We also define the elements necessary for a good story and provide examples of amazing storytelling.
Why is storytelling important?
According to Search Engine Watch, 62% of B2B marketers are sure that storytelling is a powerful tool in their content marketing strategy. We explain why it is so important and how it can boost your company below.
Firstly, stories help companies draw consumers' attention. They engage people and, in such a way, raise their interest in your brand and increase brand awareness. You can tell stories on different platforms: from TV advertisements to social media posts, from podcasts to video projects. It helps attract more buyers to your brand, especially if the story becomes viral.
Secondly, compelling stories resonate with consumers’ feelings and evoke certain emotions. It allows companies to show people that they share their pains and needs. In such a way, you can humanize your brand, give buyers a sense of community, make them empathize with your company, and foster their loyalty.
Thirdly, powerful storytelling adds value to your products and helps sell them better. When people are engaged in your stories, they are more likely to stay with your company and become regular clients. Increasing customer lifetime value lets businesses drive more revenue because existing clients spend 31% more money than new ones.
Finally, storytelling is a great way to explain complicated things simply. Some companies promote concepts and developments that are difficult to understand for consumers. The best way to persuade people to buy these products is to connect them with simple ideas and feelings relevant to everyone. You can show how cutting-edge goods can improve people’s lives to raise their interest.
Now you understand how stories influence consumers’ behavior and help companies in their product promotion. Continue reading to discover the elements that help create an effective story.
What makes a good story?
Consumers consider the story interesting when it tells about something important and relevant to them. However, it is not enough to make your storytelling engaging. Discover more on what creates a really good story in this section.
- Central message and plot. Define the main idea of the story you tell. It should be a strong morality that influences the listeners’ emotions and reminds them about the importance of certain things. Once you define this core message, build a plot around it. Your story needs a beginning, climax, and end. Remember that all these elements should be connected and describe the central message.
- Conflict. It is impossible to create an engaging story without tension. You can combine internal and external conflicts to keep people on edge and motivate them to listen till the end. Describe the challenges your characters face while trying to reach their goals. It helps evoke the audience's feelings and connect consumers with your brand through powerful experiences.
- Characters. Memorable personalities are one more necessary element in a good story. All characters should have their own goals, motivations, voices, strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and the ways they overcome them. Appearance is also very important. It should coincide with the inner world of the characters and distinguish them from each other. Remember that all personalities should play a certain role in the story and influence the plot.
- Setting. Choose remarkable places that coincide with your characters’ personalities and help the plot develop. The setting should reflect the atmosphere of your story. For example, if the plot is mysterious — you can choose dark and strange places; if it is funny — the setting can be bright and attractive.
- Rhythm and structure. To keep listeners engaged, you should change the rhythm of the story. Mix long and short sentences, paragraphs, or scenes. Avoid monotonous narration. Also, your story should have a clear structure. It does not matter whether you tell the story orally, in writing, using visual elements, or even through play — a clear beginning, middle, and end of the plot are required. They should work together to transmit the central message of the story.
- The ending. The listeners need to have a clear understanding of the story’s resolution. It should not necessarily be a good one, but it should reflect the main idea of the plot. If you use storytelling in marketing, it is good to use a call to action at the end of the narrative. In such a way, you give the audience instructions about their future actions and come to the logical end of the story.
Understanding these elements can help you create powerful stories to influence your audiences’ buying decisions. Let’s go further and discover the main types of storytelling and how to use them in marketing.
4 Types of Storytelling
Now storytelling is not only a way to entertain but a powerful tool in brands’ promotion. To use it in marketing effectively, you need to know the main types of storytelling.
- Oral storytelling. It is the oldest form of storytelling that plays a vital role in the cultural traditions of many countries. Singing songs, telling stories, and reciting poetry in front of the audience were the first forms of oral storytelling. Now it is still alive and continues to develop. For example, we can observe oral storytelling on the radio or podcasts. Also, people tell jokes or stories from their lives on social media, such as TikTok or Instagram, creating a mix of digital and oral storytelling.
- Written storytelling. It is one of the most popular forms of telling stories. Books, newspapers, magazines, banners, etc. are examples of written storytelling. People read them for entertainment, education, and discovering something new, so marketers often use this form of storytelling to promote companies and products. There are also many written stories on the Internet, which means that this type of storytelling mixes with the digital one.
- Visual storytelling. Paintings and drawings have been a part of human culture for years. Now the term ‘visual storytelling’ is much wider. Movies, serials, photos, videos, infographics, animations, and memes are only a few ways of telling stories. Companies often use visual storytelling in their marketing campaigns. You can watch ads on TV or discover the brand’s story through its photos on social media. We can also mix this form of storytelling with the digital one.
- Digital storytelling. The newest way of telling stories conveys all the previous forms through the Internet. Content marketing is a way to promote companies on the world wide web. Brands can use photos, videos, articles, blogs, audio recordings, etc., or combine them and create more complicated forms of storytelling. Also, the Internet lets developers use games and tell their stories through play. This way of storytelling turns people who passively receive the data into active creators and makes them more engaged in the story than anytime before.
Now you know 4 types of storytelling and how to use them in marketing. Continue reading to discover effective techniques that can help you increase the effectiveness of your stories.
5 Effective Storytelling Techniques
According to the research by a professor at Stanford University, stories are the most effective way to deliver data. When his students heard a speech that included storytelling and facts, 63% remembered the stories and only 5% remembered individual statistics. This fact proves the ultimate power of storytelling. Discover how to increase its effectiveness even more in this section.
- Show what happens and use scene-by-scene construction. This tactic is the most effective in written storytelling. Instead of telling about the events, you should describe them. Transport the audience to the scene, and make them hear and feel the same as your characters do. It can help you immerse the readers into your story, engage them and influence their perceptions. Avoid missing some scenes and telling about them afterward. Remember that it is always better to show something than to state the fact of an event.
- Make the story dynamic and easy to relate to. To engage the audience, you should evoke people’s emotions and feelings that are easy to understand. Don’t be afraid to show your or brand’s weaknesses and the ways you overcome them. Such elements make your storytelling more personal and especially captivating. However, you should avoid irrelevant details that do not boost the plot or influence your characters to keep consumers’ attention all the time.
- Define a hero and an enemy. Strong characters are one of the most important elements of the story. People always need someone they will support and someone they will hate. Sometimes bad characters can be things, natural phenomena, or events that do not let positive ones reach their goals. The climax of the story is the biggest fight between the enemy and the hero.
- Create a feeling of suspense and add unexpected events. It is also about continuous tensions that keep readers’ or listeners’ attention. You can create a non-linear storyline and start from the middle action or from the climax to hook the audience at once. Add surprises to your plot that keep conflict intensivе, make the audience empathize with the characters, and create a memorable story.
- Improve your dialogues. It is one of the most challenging parts of the stories to write. Note that your characters should sound realistic and individual and stay consistent in their voices and communicational styles. Also, do not use dialogues if they don’t serve the development of the plot. Some changes in the characters’ personalities or actions should happen after every communication.
Remember these techniques to create strong stories that you can use in your company’s blogs, social media, or during promotional campaigns. In the next section, we provide examples of brands that used effective storytelling to boost their company.
To use storytelling for brand promotion, your stories should be interesting, engaging, and persuasive. Moreover, they should appeal to your audience and coincide with the company’s values. Below we provide examples of effective storytelling from well-known companies and highlight the peculiarities that made them so powerful.
‘The Little Duck’ is a commercial by Disney that tells us a story about how dreams come true. In the video, we see a duckling who finds a comic book about Donald Duck. He likes the story and becomes infatuated with the main character. However, the bad weather makes his family to fly away, so the duckling leaves a comix. They have been flying all night and, eventually, find a new home. The little duck realizes that they are in Disneyland Paris and meets his hero Donald Duck in real life.
This cute story is an amazing advertisement for Disney’s amusement park. In 75 seconds, we become completely fascinated by the character's fate and feel happy when the video ends well.
It is not a promotional campaign, but Eva Stories is an amazing example of storytelling witha critical social mission. A story describes the last days of 13-year-old Hungarian Jew girl Eva who lived in 1944. Conducted on Instagram Stories, the campaign aims to educate people about what happened during the Holocaust. It is based on the real diary belonging to Eva Heyman, who died at Auschwitz on October 17, 1944.
Below is a screenshot of Eva's Instagram, which has more than one million followers. There are stories from February 13 to March 31 that depict her life before and after Germany’s invasion of Hungary. They had 300 million views in less than 48 hours and made many people worry and feel sad about the events of the Holocaust that ruined so many lives.
This company conducted a campaign using AR technologies to tell short stories connected with their brand. Buyers could point their phone’s cameras at Coca-Cola’s can to see small characters on the screen. There were 12 short stories; each one had a conflict and a positive resolution. In the end, the characters shared a can of Cola and had fun.
There is a video about the creation of this storytelling campaign. The company aimed to attract consumers’ attention to their products using new technologies and interactive promotions. As a result, the combination of augmented reality and storytelling was extremely successful and became one of the most unusual advertising campaigns in the brand’s history.
The director Michael Gondry created the film ‘Detour’ as a part of a promotional campaign for the iPhone 7 Plus. It aimed to show the quality of Apple’s camera and its features, such as animation, filming underwater, time-lapse and slow motion. The company also provided additional online masterclasses to explain to buyers how to create such amazing videos.
‘Detour’ tells us a story about a tricycle that a family lost during their journey. The girl who owned it was very upset, but the story had a happy ending. You can observe the adventures of the tricycle and its young owner for 11 minutes and, finally, feel happy about the unexpected outcome of the story.
Congrats, now you know what storytelling is and why it is important, understand the distinctive features of a good story and techniques for powerful storytelling. Also, you have discovered inspiring examples from popular brands that can motivate you to use stories for your company’s promotion.
Last Updated: 18.05.2022