It's probably not a stretch for me to claim that people have loved stories since the human race developed the ability to tell them. I can imagine the earliest hominids using grunts and gestures to tell stories around the camp as a way to educate, warn, and of course, influence their fellows. We might imagine our earliest ancestors developing the craft of storytelling until it became hardwired into our brains as part of what makes us human.
Stories don't just contain information, but they also have the power to influence mood and emotions. And emotional response, according to a Psychology Today article called Inside the Consumer Mind, outweighs rational analysis when it comes to influencing purchase decisions. Now it's time to reflect on how you can use storytelling in your successful marketing campaigns.
1. Be Honest
Of course, you are telling stories. Characters might be fictional, but the brand has to deliver on the promise. A tooth fairy doesn't actually collect teeth. Parents don't promise that the fictional tooth collector will leave a pony. Kids know they can leave teeth under their pillow and expect them to get replaced with a dollar or some other reasonable reward. The Tooth Fairy, be she mom or dad in real life, delivers on the brand and everybody's satisfied. You are free to exercise creativity, but you can't do it at the expense of trust in your brand.
2. Create Personalities
Flo, the gecko from Geico, and State Farm's mayhem guy help differentiate similar products in a competitive business environment. Instead of just using unmemorable and dry statements that one insurance company or another reliably covers car and home accidents, the companies have developed brand personas to make them memorable. You don't have to have a mascot, but it is helpful to infuse your brand with a personality.
3. Make Your Brand the Good Guy
Instead of using clearly fictional mascots, like the Geico Gecko, you are free to develop a persona that is more rooted in real life. In fact, as authors, many of you will represent your brand as yourself. If you write fiction, you might pull main characters from your stories to represent your brand. Either way, be sure to present your own brand representatives as interesting characters that your potential audience cares about.
4. Tell a Complete Story
The best marketing storytelling follows the rules of fiction in that there is a clear problem and resolution. In simpler terms, there must be a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. Even if you do it very quickly, delivering a complete story satisfies your audience and doesn't just confuse them. Of course, this still leaves room for cliffhangers, and that brings up the fifth point...
5. Leave Them Wanting More
Well, of course, we hope the end result of storytelling is leaving our audience wanting more. Crafted correctly, proper stories should influence an audience to return for more of the same, and eventually, a purchase of your products. As book marketers, you need to let your audience know where to find the rest of the story.
What's Your Story?
As marketers, we know we cannot just use dry phrases that emphasize features and benefits but lack any narrative quality. Storytelling helps market brands by stimulating both intellect and emotion, so now it's time for us to develop your story, and of course, give it a happy ending.