Would you like to know one of the most effective and proven ways to tell your brand’s story? Before you answer, let’s have a look at why you should tell your story through marketing in the first place.

We are surrounded by marketing campaigns that are utilising storytelling. Promotion through telling stories is powerful.

Why storytelling works

  1. We have lot more options today and a lot less time, so unless a business or a brand really connects with us, we are not interested. Stories told effectively create connections.
  2. We are programmed from childhood to pay attention to stories. We are not really interested in listening to marketing messages, but we pay attention to stories that we like and love.
  3. Storytelling allows us to experience our own lives and emotions. Now that is worth noting.

What the experts say

In Robert McKee’s best-selling book ‘Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting’’ he says, “Stories fulfil a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living — not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience”.

McKee is an award-winning writer and director, whose students have written, directed and produced hundreds of Hollywood blockbusters such as Forrest Gump, Gandhi, Erin Brockovich and The Colour Purple. He suggested in a Harvard Business Review interview that CEOs and managers should pay attention to screenwriters and learn how to tell stories.

Telling story makes a person or brand vulnerable to its audience and vulnerability is one of thekey currencies todayneeded to connect at deeper level.

Examples of storytelling

  • Vision Critical (a cloud-based customer intelligence platform) utilises their clients’ stories very effectively to market their brand.  They highlight individual challenges faced by their clients and how their software has helped.  The same approach could be utilised in any business.

storytelling example

  • Google has done an incredible job with its Google Stories that show how people have utilised Google Search to achieve incredible things.

storytelling2

 

If you have utilised storytelling before you may be able to follow a simple structure in most marketing related storytelling. You do this by highlighting the pain or the challenges that existed before your product or service appeared and how it helped change the lives of your clients or customers.

The next step

In this article I want to give you a greater tool to utilise storytelling. I want to share with you a proven formula of storytelling, responsible for generating billions of dollars and provide you with a step by step framework that has been universally proven to work.

In 1949 Joseph Campbell wrote the book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” after years of study and research. He noticed that important myths and religious stories from around the world all share a fundamental structure. He created a 12 step storytelling plan that anyone can follow, whether using stories in movies or to generate sales or in marketing videos.

This pattern has been successfully followed in numerous blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, The Lion King, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games, Harry Potters, to name just a few.

Here are the 12 steps:

storytelling strategy in marketing - framework

A simple explanation of these stages:

The hero living in an ordinary world gets a call to adventure, which always involves a land of unknowns. He initially refuses the call due to current circumstances, fear or a number of other reasons. Then through the help of someone wise, a mentor, he moves into the world of unknowns or faces his fears.

He fights against his fear or the villain of the story (which could be circumstances as well) and comes out a winner and gets the reward. Remember it is all about the emotional journey.

It does not finish then. He makes his way back to the ordinary world and meets the villain or final fear again. He comes out victorious and brings back treasure, his learning or experience to the ordinary world.

If you look deeper into it, this is a story of transformation. There doesn’t have to be a villain or a person to fight like mythological tales, it could be an internal fear that someone needs to overcome and coming out victorious will serve the same purpose.

 

How to use this structure in marketing your brand’s story

Let’s have a look at some popular examples:

Example: NIKE – ‘The Last Game’

An example of storytelling in marketing by NIKE

Decoding the story

In this story the antagonist is the clones that take the game of football away. Then comes a mentor who brings the players together and motivates them to face their worst fears again; playing the clones. They step up to the challenge, take massive risks and defeat the clones to regain control of the game again. This story emotionally transforms the audience and provides them with a call to action, to risk it all.

If you watch the ad carefully you will notice that Nike boots are introduced at the right time when the heroes need tools to win, just like mythological heroes need a magic wand or a sword.

Within days after its release, the video reached tens of millions of views online, and currently has over 67 million views. Now that’s what a successful campaign looks like.

 

Example:  ‘Best Beautiful Stories’ from OLAY

An example of storytelling in marketing by Olay

Decoding the story

This is an incredible example of storytelling, where the heroines (the characters featured) have gone through skin cancer (the antagonist as in the Hero’s Journey). They responded to their ‘Call to Adventure’ and stood strong to fight cancer. They came out victorious. Their challenges have made them better and more beautiful. This is a great example of an emotional journey.

Just like NIKE, Olay uses their branded products very effectively. Their product is shown being used by the character at the right time in the story, making the right association. This gives away the entire marketing message without having to shout it out.

A step-by-step guide

Now you know the proven story structure, you may be wondering if there is a way you can use these strategies in a simple step-by-step manner for all of your marketing efforts, such as brand videos, webinars, sales presentation or even public speaking.

Here is a compact summary of all that has been stated earlier, plus an added element of direct response, meaning you are driving all these marketing pieces to generate a targeted response from your audience.

1. The Premise: This is where introduce your audience to what this presentation is all about. You can start by asking a simple question that relates directly to your target audience.

2. The Promise: In a direct sales and marketing presentation you may like to discuss why someone should watch the video up front, to get their attention. You can start your presentation with this element. This could be a punchy unique selling proposition, value proposition or even a guarantee.

3. The Challenges (or Pain): You talk about the challenges the brand faced, or the person faced that led them to create the solution they did. It could also be a general observation about certain problems human beings face and why the brand decided to build a solution. This helps relate the viewers on a deeper level. Being specific with the challenges helps, the more detailed the better.

This is where the Hero’s Journey for the brand or the individual with the solution starts. The problem that your audience has is the reason for the ‘Call to Adventure’.

4. Brand Story: Briefly mention about the challenges or the ordeal the brand or individual went through, this could be technology challenges, skills challenges, time or resource challenges. Share how they moved through these challenges, become ‘Victorious’ and they now have the ‘Reward’.

The key is to drive the emotional appeal throughout the story so your audience can relate it to their own lives.

SIDE NOTE: The story of transformation could be about your clients or customers too, just like Olay’s example above.

5. The Solution: Present the ‘Reward’ that the brand has got and which is the solution to the problem your audience has. This is where your brand’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ ends. However, from a marketing perspective we need to do a few more things.

6. The Benefits: Talk about the results and the benefits the product or service can bring to the lives of potential customers.

7. Social Proof: Show how what you offer has changed the lives of current clients.

8. Offer/Guarantee: Try and take the risk away through good guarantees, a free trial, or a money back guarantee.

9. Call To Action (Urgency): I have seen too many great marketing pieces that end abruptly without a clear call to action. Here is the key: If a seven year old does not understand exactly what to do after watching your marketing, you may need to rethink your call to action.

It is vital in any marketing to motivate your target audience to take an action, because once they leave your site/content they may never come back. Whether you want them to subscribe, get in touch, buy, trail your software or product – be clear. As a rule of thumb use only one call to action per marketing engagement. Too many options lead to non-action.

If you follow this template and tweak to your needs you cannot go wrong.

One key ingredient you also need is the guts to be able to share your personal or brand story with your audience. Once you do it right you will experience a transformation in your marketing and business.

Please leave your comments below and let us know how you could use storytelling in your business.

If you are looking for some help in creating your brand’s story feel free to get in touch with us. We will be able to help. Click here to contact us today.

 

References:

1. Vision Critical

2. Google Stories

3. The Hero’s Journey

4. Olay

5. NIKE – ‘The Last Game’ on Youtube
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