A marketing campaign. What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear these words? Likely, numerous images of creating ads, blasting out emails, SEO optimization, etc. flow into your thoughts as you think of all the different initiatives you can take as a business to increase brand awareness.
With initiating the campaign comes analyzing how you’re doing in terms of incoming traffic and lead generation. Potential clients can easily be grouped together with other customers that may not be a good fit for your firm as a target for mass emails and content that uses every effort possible to sell your product or service to them. As you may guess, marketing campaigns can quickly become impersonal and ineffective, leading to a disconnect between the seller and buyer.
This is why you need to work on storytelling marketing as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
Why does your business need a story?
With traditional marketing schemes, it can often be all about the views, traffic, converted leads, referrals, etc. With this all too common practice, potential clients easily become reduced to mere numbers and statistics instead of real, individual people. As consumers, a good product or service will attract us, but as people, we become much more interested when that business has a story and goals that we can relate to.
Having a well thought-out story as a backdrop for your business not only brings a lot more depth to your business mission statement, but will ensure you have a clear understanding of who your business is for and importantly create a human connection between your firm and potential clients.
Here are the 3 Essential Elements of Storytelling Marketing
In order to engage your audience on a deeper level, there are three components that lay down the foundation for a compelling story: characters, conflict, and resolution.
The buyer persona that will establish a connection between you (the story teller) and the audience.
Planning out and executing various marketing initiatives will be next to impossible -not to mention unsuccessful –if you don’t even know who exactly you’re trying to help in the first place. You have a company which offers XYZ services, that’s great! But who exactly will benefit from the services you’re offering? Having a company that simply advertises a good service isn’t enough without using storytelling to sharpen who your service is really for.
Start with the Buyer Persona. To learn more about what a buyer persona is and how to develop one, we’ve written a blog post about it here. Taking the time to develop a buyer persona for your firm will help you recognize and understand the unique challenges and goals your target client possesses. The buyer persona is the mid-point that will resonate with potential customers and create a connection between them and you.
The lesson in how the character transforms through challenge.
A story is not a story unless it includes conflict, where it is through the emphasis of a key challenge that will catch the attention of potential customers. These days, fast pitches and taglines saturate the market with the only goal of pushing and selling the product to the customer. As mentioned previously, this leads to an impersonal interaction between the seller and buyer, leaving little-to-no room for any relating of specific pain-points or challenges that would convince potential customers that your firm is the best fit for them.
The conflict in your story should not only address your prospect’s problems and their needs through the buyer persona, but it’s important to consider how such needs may vary with each stage of the buyer’s journey: Awareness, Consideration, Decision (a more detailed explanation of each of these stages can be found in a blog post we wrote here). Doing so will help you develop and tailor the conflict in your business’ content accordingly.
The solution that solves the story’s dilemma, but clearly calls the audience into action.
After laying out the key characters of your business story and the obstacles that stand in their way, now is your opportunity to introduce the solution (your product/service) that will help your target client reach their goals and overcome their challenges.
Make sure the resolution you create is actionable, so that potential customers will feel the need to take some sort of action after hearing your business’ story, whether it’s by clicking on a CTA, filling out a Contact Us form page, downloading an offered content to learn more, or any other deeper level of engagement.
A story is not simply recapping your history, but explaining the WHY
When you develop a story for your business, you are not stating a summary of your business’ history. Many businesses are quick to emphasize what they are selling and offering and how they are solving a pain-point, but it’s rare for them to talk about why the business does what they do.
It is in the why where the emotional appeal of your business will be found and coupled with who will benefit from the business via your buyer persona, these two aspects will change the story of your business from good to great and engaging. When you describe why your business was created and the challenges a specific type of buyer may be facing, you create an opportunity to show that you care about the same things as those “best-fit” prospects.
Contrary to popular belief, the things that stick with people are not quick pitches and taglines, but emotion. If you go beyond these traditional marketing methods and take the initiative to create a deeper story for your business that evokes genuine emotion, a prospect will likely associate more positive thoughts with your business and have a much easier time remembering you when they need to make a decision.
Here is an example of a financial services company that uses these essential elements to create a strong story as its foundation
The “Why”: To help customers make better financial decisions and investments that will benefit their own work and personal lives in the long run.
Character: Charlie is CEO of a large company that he’s been working at for the past 10 years. He’s 56 years old, has 2 children, and earns an annual income of around 500K. He wants to be the best father and husband he can be by being able to support his household financially while still making sure he can spend quality time with his family. In addition, he wants to be able to preserve his wealth for his future generations to come.
Conflict: CEO Charlie is uncertain on how to manage his wealth properly so that it can be used to fully benefit his family. He has looked into traditional real estate investments, but finds them too time-consuming as he is very busy at work.
Resolution: Considering Alternative Real Estate Investments is a promising option as it will allow for CEO Charlie’s assets to grow and increase while also requiring significantly less time commitment, leading to more time he can spend with his family.