This is why storytelling is vital for your marketing success
Every marketer dreams of cutting through the noise so their brand message is heard, but that’s not easy. Why? Because our customers are humans. And, unlike computers, human brains aren’t rational; they don’t make decisions based on hard data and algorithms. So, to understand how customers will react to our marketing messages, we first need to know how the human brain works.
Understand this and you’ll reap the rewards with greater brand engagement, increased brand loyalty, and a better return on investment for every piece of marketing that you ever produce.
Marketing to the human brain
The (very short) psychology bit… Our brains are about 2% of our body weight, yet they consume about 25% of the body’s energy. So they are always looking to conserve energy by making decisions based on what’s easy.
That means that we’re not wired to make the best decisions. Instead, we’re programmed to make the most efficient ones. In the words of Don Miller, “people don’t buy the best products or services. They buy the ones they can understand the fastest”.
That means, our brains prefer to make decisions that are intuitive and emotional. So, how do we help our customers make decisions like that? Through brand storytelling.
The power of storytelling for brands
Stories are a universal language. They are, in fact, the most natural way of passing information from human to human. It’s not surprising then, that our predecessors sat around campfires telling stories of woolly mammoths many thousands of years before social media came to play.
Stories take us beyond mere facts and information. They simplify data and amplify emotion. And, that’s the way our brains build an understanding of the world.
What’s more, that’s why it’s true that we remember stories, often for years, whereas a string or numbers are easy to forget. In fact, we are more inclined to remember facts if they are told to us as part of a story, but we’re also more likely to trust that they’re true. For brands, that’s a powerful insight.
What is your brand story?
To know what your brand story should be, let’s start by understanding what it’s not.
It’s not (rather it NEVER should be!) a potted history of the business, where it started, how it changed, and what awards it has won. Such a brand-centric monologue does nothing to tell the customer what they really need to know.
Back to the brain again…
Your customers’ brains are self-centred. Not in an egotistical way, but as a way to survive. Your consumer’s brains are wired to be focused on themselves.
So what customers actually want to know is…
1. What problems will you help them solve?
2. How will you make their lives better?
3. Why should they trust you?
That’s your true brand story.
How to craft your brand story
In times when business is unusual, getting your story right is even more vital than ever.
It’s easy to say that we should use storytelling in brands, but how do you do this on a practical level? How do we tell stories to compel our customers to take action?
#1 Tap into emotion
If you want a master class in this, think back to any John Lewis Christmas ad. It’s a cliched example, but in terms of best practice, John Lewis never disappoint.
#2 Show that you understand your customers’ wants and needs
Prospects land on your website or social media feed because they have a problem they are looking to solve. Make it clear that you understand that problem and you’ll already be one step ahead of your competitors in attracting attention and building that all-important trust.
#3 Position your customer as the hero
The customer should be the hero in your story, not your brand. Illustrate that your customers are the important ones. Your role is to be the guide and show them the way with empathy and authority.
#4 Show empathy
Consumers want to go beyond transactional relationships. They want authentic brands they can trust. We build trust by showing empathy and authenticity.
Some brands have navigated the pandemic well with the use of empathy. The recent Tesco ad recommending that people buy their beer from the local pub rather than from their supermarket shelves is an example of this. It’s a message which both meets customers where they are in their world and sits comfortably with the Tesco brand – every little helps.
Empathy is quite simple to achieve, and yet its importance is so often overlooked. We show empathy in our day to day relationships all the time. Both in life and in marketing, simple phrases like “we understand” or “we care” go a long way. People are more likely to trust and be attracted to brands that understand them. But, your customers won’t know you understand them, and that you care unless you tell them.
Social proof is perhaps one of the more obvious ways to tell stories. They de-risk the buying process by helping prospects imagine what their lives will be like when they buy from you.
To do this, the most powerful testimonials follow the construct of a simple story. They outline the problem your customer was dealing with before they bought from you, they show what solution you offered and how they felt after.
Testimonials like this are a strong tool in your brand armoury. That’s why I would encourage you to be proactive in collecting and sharing social proof.
So the lesson is this…
A story is more than a nice-to-have marketing fad. It’s a marketing necessity. The human brain resonates with stories and regardless of the market you serve, your customers are human. This understanding alone gives storytelling brands a clear advantage in the marketplace.
The stories we tell are as important as the products and services we sell.
Tell your brand story with Cornish Marketing
Want help telling the world your story? Book a call for a free consultation.