From cave walls to Facebook walls, storytelling is the most powerful form of communication. In many ways, storytelling is the creative demonstration of a truth, living proof of an idea, or the demonstration of turning ideas into action. In marketing, the purpose of advertising is to influence consumer behavior.
Great storytelling uses universal characters to simplify information gathering and the decision making process to differentiate one brand from the rest and ultimately increase sales. Brands like Nike represent the Hero character of a compelling story about our own personal achievement. Wholesome brands like Little Debbie epitomize the Innocent Character of an enduring story that always ends in a smile. Google has risen to brand dominance as the Sage. Obvious character types become the messengers of a bigger story that all began once upon a time.
What Is Storytelling In Marketing?
Storytelling at its heart means capturing and holding the attention of a person or people in order to reveal meaning in a way that entertains, enlightens, scares, or provokes. Storytelling is a technique as old as mankind; yet it never gets old. Storytelling is a tool that has been used successfully across time and cultures around the world. It has contributed to the success of multi-billion dollar industries, but it is as free and ubiquitous as the air we breathe. Storytelling is as comfortable to a mother and child as it is to our most reviled dictators. It is at once funny and sad; mean and kind; boring and captivating; and any permutation imaginable. What is the force, this mystery, this magic?
The magic lies in the fact that everyone loves a good story. It’s part of our being. Stories evoke our imaginations as they unfold. Stories stir up our feelings, make us cry or laugh, believe or reject, align or oppose in a way that is not rational but instinctual, visceral, and subconscious. Because of this evoked emotional response, stories play a critical role in successful marketing. Good stories move people to action. Bad stories push people away. Stories incite behavior, response, and influence, all critical in building great brands but most important, compelling stories can sell. Charles Revson, founder of Revlon Cosmetics, said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.” Bill Bernbachs, a famous adman, said, “Our job is to bring the dead facts to life.” Jef I. Richards, an advertising professor, said, “Advertising is the ‘wonder’ in Wonder Bread.” This success of storytelling is what propelled an obscure shoemaker into an enduring cultural icon with the “Just Do It” campaign, and turned fizzy sugar water into global “Happiness.” Storytelling is not about the rational facts or comparative attributes. It is not an overt claim or a bigger brag.
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The World’s Foremost Authorities On Marketing: Top CMOs Share What They Know Best" [Kindle Edition] http://amzn.to/L83SZG
How to Use Storytelling Techniques to Advance a Marketing Campaign [Kindle Edition]
I really enjoyed contributing to this book and being in such great marketing company. Each of these authors has a commendable history of accomplishments, and ExecSense has brought a diverse group together to give the reader practical insights on many different aspects of marketing today. Even if you don’t benefit from all nine authors, you will certainly walk away smarter and better prepared for the ever-increasing challenges that lie ahead in this post-recession marketplace.
The task of writing my chapter was really quite simple. My ad agency, Luckie & Co., practices this storytelling approach day-in and day-out. Sharing our thinking and successes, particularly when they are affirmed by so many of the successful brands we’ve known over time, is an easy story to tell. You can see from our clients’ success ( www.luckie.com ) that we’ve been able to overtake market leaders, grow brands from local to regional to national and drive huge numbers of new customers to our clients using storytelling across all media channels.
I believe that 95% of the advertising we see on TV, online and on a smartphone is wasted. Either smart marketers are not well served by their agencies or they aren’t properly informed about their customers. The end result is catastrophic. In 2011, more than $144 billion dollars was spent on advertising but only 5%, or $7.2 billion, had the maximum impact intended. Sad. Very sad. Wannamaker was way off his 50% prediction.
Our work using storytelling to build brands and move markets ensures the maximum impact for every client dollar. Our work is in the 5% that is not wasted. Our blending of the science of data with the art of marketing fuels the magic of storytelling. I’d welcome the opportunity to share more with you.