Marketing 6 min read

Why Storytelling is the Future of Content Marketing

Tumisu /

Tumisu /

Storytelling marketing can help take your digital marketing campaign to the next level.

Every company is constantly trying to “break through the noise”. In a market so inundated with products and advertisements, consumers often ignore the constant noise of online advertising.

In order to break through the sea of ads, you have to adopt a narrative. That’s where storytelling marketing comes in.

Several studies have suggested that telling a story makes information more memorable. According to a psychologist, Jerome Bruner, we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when accompanied by a story.

Similarly, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business found that 5 percent of people are more likely to remember sales pitches that contain statistics. On the other hand, 63 percent will remember pitches use stories.

Before we explore why stories are so effective in content marketing, let’s start with a quick introduction.

What is Storytelling Marketing?

Storytelling marketing involves using a narrative to communicate a message. It aims to make your audience empathize with characters who faced similar challenges, persevered, and overcame.

Weaving your content marketing in stories can help consumers understand why they should care about something. What’s more, it humanizes your brand and creates a lasting connection.

Here’s why.

Storytelling Marketing Supplants Identity

image of a woman sitting at a laptop in a coffee shop for article Storytelling Marketing (not Social Media) is the Future of Content
image of a woman sitting at a laptop in a coffee shop for article Storytelling Marketing (not Social Media) is the Future of Content

What does the above image say to you? What is the woman working on? Is she starting a new business or maybe working on her Master’s Degree?

These are the kinds of questions relevant to storytelling marketing. They’re also your new secret content marketing weapon that you need to master.

Many high-profile brands have implemented something playing at this idea but often fall short. Consider Coke and Pepsi’s famous ad campaigns like “Share a Coke” or the “Pepsi Generation” campaign.

Both of these campaigns play on two great impulses: friendship and identity. However, people are now accustomed to these big-name soda brand ads and the accompanying sugar levels present in the products.

People don’t want to be a part of that generation or share that with friends.

The popular comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live even parodied a Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial for its lack of social awareness.

In the same ways that modern markets want authenticity in their ads, they want representation and narrative.

Hashtags are more for sorting than for anything else these days. And Instagram, while still useful for some brands, largely won’t increase website traffic or conversions anymore.

Users need more than pretty pictures and face promising them things. They demand a story that offers more than an ill-advised and poorly-executed promotion of a useless product.

image of Hades from Disney's Hercules giving two thumbs up for article Storytelling Marketing (not Social Media) is the Future of Content
image of Hades from Disney’s Hercules giving two thumbs up for article Storytelling Marketing (not Social Media) is the Future of Content

The Magic of the Three-Part Formula

Storytelling marketing functions much like crafting an actual story: you need to have distinct segments and goals.

In the most basic sense, all stories have a beginning, middle, and end.

In order to incorporate storytelling into your content marketing strategy, you’ll need to include the following:

  • a Hook — an emotional tug that engages a reader/viewer.
  • the Protagonist — the focal character of your story.
  • Setting and Length — capture your audience fast and never keep them too long.

If you follow this guideline, you can quickly create compelling stories irrespective of the scenario, audience, or brand.

But let’s look at an example in order to understand the applied knowledge as opposed to mere theory.

The Storytelling Sweet Spot

Disney has made billions of dollars from storytelling. The mass media and entertainment conglomerate is responsible for some of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

This Disneyland Paris ads is a simple way to show off the brand’s skill at storytelling.

It’s the heartwarming story of a duckling that accidentally found a Donald Duck comic book. The little duckling became obsessed with its new hero, imitating Donald Duck’s comic book gestures.

Bad weather was approaching, and it was time for the duckling and its family to take flight. As hard as the duckling fought, it had to leave the beloved comic book behind.

The duckling and its family flew through cold stormy nights before the sun reappeared. They surprisingly arrived at Disneyland Paris, the little duckling was greeted by its idol, Donald Duck.

The duckling’s story captures the wonder and excitement that kids feel when visiting Disneyland Paris. Also, it pulls out heartstrings ever so slightly.

This stands in stark contrast to the Pepsi ad which used real-life stories as obvious props to sell a product.

Better still: you can identify all three parts of the formula right from the get-go. The little duckling is the protagonist and its obsession with Donald duck is the hook, and the colorful greenery is the setting.

The timeline of 90 seconds is also perfect and could even be reduced to 60 seconds. I’m sure.

To Wrap Up

Overall, one of the most important things to remember is to show, not tell.

Shoving a product or service to the front of your ad will only turn away consumers. Your product should be a solution or partner in your ad, not the main event. Customers and viewers are far more savvy and critical of the ads they see these days.

With that, you need to put the story first — the positive association will push your product further forward than any conventional ad could.

A good commercial will put the consumer in a good mood. The best way of doing that is always focusing on the story. With a captivated audience, the positive boost in sales and audience will always follow.

Next time you are creating an ad, consider the three-part storytelling marketing formula and experiment a bit. You’ll probably find the campaign performing better than if you had just done a boosted ad on Facebook.

Read More: Advertisement Writing: How to Create a Compelling Ad Copy

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