Storytelling in marketing

There’s one significant difference between our brains and a computer processor. We are terrible at numbers, compared to the latter. Yes, we can be good at math, we can even be genius-level mathematicians, but we’d still be awful at logarithms and even simple multiplication and subtraction.  Don’t get me wrong, some people understand how math works to an incredible level, but even they will never be as comfortable with numbers as a computer is. There’s a straightforward explanation for that. A computer was developed to work with numbers, while our brains evolved for and with stories.

Evolutionary benefits of storytelling

Our brains work in a very similar way (if not the same) to the way they did some 20 000 years ago when our ancestors were still living in caves and society was just starting to shape up. Back then, it was essential to tell the younglings what to do and especially what not to do to survive, and the best way to transmit such a message was to tell a story. 

Storytelling, be it listening to a story or telling a story, increases oxytocin levels in our brains. Oxytocin is one of the hormones that cause us to feel an emotion we identify as happiness as it is considered the hormone of socially fitting in. Our social affiliation is one of the things most important for our overall happiness, again, because back in the day, if you didn’t fit in in your tribe, you’d be left for dead. 

Storytelling in marketing

Now, fast forward some 20 thousand years to the 1950s when marketing started to exist as a science. Companies had already been trying various approaches to get their clients’ attention (and money) for quite some time, but that’s when people realized that they could apply some valuable insights to be more successful. One of them was storytelling. 

Storytelling in marketing helps companies build a stronger connection with their customers, and the reason for it is pretty simple. It gives the company a more human-like look because who tells stories other than humans? Thanks to that more human-like look, the marketing message transmitted can more easily stand out in the sea of information that is social media today. Telling a story is as human as it gets. A great example of excellent storytelling is Volvo. In the majority of their communications, they position their vehicles as a symbol of love and care. One of the tools they use is safety. While they certainly don’t produce the most exciting, fastest, or even most beautiful cars in the world, they certainly make some of the safest.

Building a strong connection with a company’s customers is not the only positive side of storytelling. One of the leading marketing goals is to educate, and the human brain loves to get new information and learn. The easiest way to do that is not to show a bunch of charts, whitepapers, and numbers but to tell the story. 

Information is most easily saved through first-hand experiences, which for most companies is hard to do for all of their customers, and that’s where storytelling comes in to save the day. We are empathetic creatures, so that’s why we can quickly identify with a character we read about or watch in a video. If that character’s story is similar to ours, if they are going through the same struggles in life as we are, the effect on the brain is nearly the same as a first-hand experience.  Now, fast forward some 20 thousand years to the 1950s when marketing started to exist as a science. Companies had already been trying various approaches to get their clients’ attention (and money) for quite some time, but that’s when people realized that they could apply some valuable insights to be more successful. One of them was storytelling. 

Storytelling in marketing helps companies build a stronger connection with their customers, and the reason for it is pretty simple. It gives the company a more human-like look because who tells stories other than humans? Thanks to that more human-like look, the marketing message transmitted can more easily stand out in the sea of information that is social media today. Telling a story is as human as it gets. A great example of excellent storytelling is Volvo. In the majority of their communications, they position their vehicles as a symbol of love and care. One of the tools they use is safety. While they certainly don’t produce the most exciting, fastest, or even most beautiful cars in the world, they certainly make some of the safest. 

Building a strong connection with a company’s customers is not the only positive side of storytelling. One of the leading marketing goals is to educate, and the human brain loves to get new information and learn. The easiest way to do that is not to show a bunch of charts, whitepapers, and numbers but to tell the story. 

Information is most easily saved through first-hand experiences, which for most companies is hard to do for all of their customers, and that’s where storytelling comes in to save the day. We are empathetic creatures, so that’s why we can quickly identify with a character we read about or watch in a video. If that character’s story is similar to ours, if they are going through the same struggles in life as we are, the effect on the brain is nearly the same as a first-hand experience. 

How to tell a story in marketing?

A few main elements tell a great story as a marketer, most of which are the same that a writer would use to write a story. 

1. Create a relatable main character

Having a main character is vital to a good story. It immediately makes it more relatable. They have to be appealing to the viewers of said story and should be interesting enough to leave an impression.

2. Set up the elements at the start

With the massively overcrowded marketing world, it’s crucial to get the reader or watcher hooked on the story at first glance. One of the ways to do that is to have a straight-to-the-point title that gets people’s attention.

3. Create conflict

If you think about your favorite movies and books, they are all going to have one thing in common. They all have their main characters go through a conflict and find a solution.

4. Keep it authentic

Authenticity is one of the features we value most in other people. Being natural and being true to oneself, no one can go wrong.

There are many elements to being a good marketer who knows how to attract customers. What all good creatives in marketing have in common is that they are all great storytellers. Once you know how to tell a compelling story, your marketing efforts are going to start flowing, and you will head in the right direction.

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