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How to Use Storytelling to Differentiate Your Product in a Crowded Market

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The Power of Storytelling in Boosting Product Sales

Once upon a time, in the ‘old days’ of marketing, selling your product or service involved telling people what it was, and what it did.

But it’s no longer enough to simply outline what you do and how it benefits your customers. Beyond the benefit and features of the product or service they offer, successful companies focus on the why and establish an emotional connection through experiential marketing techniques.

What does storytelling involve?

Storytelling has been used for thousands of years to shape cultures and impact upon our inner worlds – think religious texts, Shakespeare and even movies.

Using storytelling to evoke an emotional response or to create social change really is a tale as old as time (see what we did there?), and increasingly companies are looking to harness its influential power. After all, our experiences shape us, and storytelling enables us to communicate those experiences and how they make us feel, bringing a human element to re relationship which is otherwise purely transactional.

This makes even more sense when you consider that asking people questions about who they are – like what they like and don’t like, things they have done, places they have been or where they are from is how we get to know them better. So why shouldn’t stories help us to get to know brands better, too?

What marketers realised is that through following this specific formula, it’s possible to tap into a deeper layer of connection that goes beyond simply wanting to buy something at face value. Storytelling enables companies to cultivate an emotional identity around their offering and sometimes an entire community. It’s something all brands can benefit from, big or small – whether you’re service or product based.

Why storytelling is key when it comes to engaging customers

Benefits of storytelling to introduce and promote your brand include:

Emotional connection with the customer: One thing businesses often miss when sharing their benefits is the fact that buying decisions aren’t solely based on logic. There are now numerous studies demonstrating this, proving that shared experiences between consumers and brands establish strong emotional connections that result in prolonged brand loyalty.

Tap into tribe mentality: Customers can relate and associate with you when they see that your brand offering resonates with them, but that goes a step further when they see that people they feel are like them associate with you too. People tend to want to become part of something – associating with a particular brand often says something about who you are and what type of people you identify with. Think about the fierce debates between people you know who are Apple vs those who are Android, and you’ll get the picture!

*Clarify and simplify your key messages: Beyond the overarching marketing benefits, storytelling enables you to really drill down on who you are and why you do what you do. When you get to the heart of that you can begin to develop a very strong identity and clear presence and credibility in your chosen industry.

*Avoid confusion and alienation: When you’re clear on how to successfully communicate with your audience, you avoid confusing or alienating them through inappropriate messaging.

*Swifter, higher engagement: Stories are engaging for customers. Not only will you grab their attention more quickly, you’ll also keep them engaged for longer.

*Memorable messaging: Humans tend not to remember straight facts and numbers – instead, we remember experiences, generally because memories are tied to how the things around us make us feel. Combining stories with data can help to make marketing messages up to 22x more memorable – enabling brands to remain front of mind for longer.

Successful storytelling from big brands

Increasingly you’ll notice companies with marketing strategies and POS tools (such as websites online, and stores offline) that rely on storytelling to make their point. Some brands are better at this than others – some of our favourite examples include:

Slack:As soon as you land on Slack’s website, you’ll feel like part of their team as they take your hand and lead you through the ins and outs of their workplace communication software seamlessly. Alongside a host of experience-led user benefits, Slack also shares plenty of customer stories to help new recruits to get inspired. Slack has also successfully created a culture surrounding the company which is not unlike a social network, enabling users to collaborate and connect via the platform within companies or on external projects.

Asana:Focusing on a personalised approach to project management software, Asana gracefully presents insights reflecting a real company designed to resonate with potential customers. Through presenting pain points in a gentle and supportive manner, softened with visual cues, Asana feels like the assistant you wish you had, with a calm collected tone and a focus on stories that runs throughout the site.

Airbnb: Airbnb turns traditional storytelling on its head – instead of telling their own story, they get customers to tell theirs (with great success). Think sitting through your family’s holiday photos but better – enjoying a voyeuristic view of a dream destination, visualising your own escape, whilst also tapping into Airbnb’s ‘home from home’ ethos (a strategy officially titled Belong Anywhere). This is especially powerful because it’s immersive – you feel like you’re there, experiencing it with them and you want to experience it too. It’s also an innovative way to address many different target audiences – from vastly different age groups to cultural demographics.

Rolex:Tapping into status, aspiration and wealth, Rolex tells a story of significance and entitlement. As a brand, Rolex attracts from a pure ego perspective, promising power, authority and elevated identity to their customers simply through being associated with their prestige product. 

The importance of creating content that speaks to your audience

Alongside the journey you take customers on and the visuals and experiential tools you use to help them feel connected and understood, written content is one of the principal ways in which brands can connect with their audience. It’s an opportunity that often gets missed, as companies pour all their resources into writing copy with Google’s algorithms in mind, forgetting to infuse it with the essence of who they are.

Although it’s important to pay attention to keywords and optimise for SEO purposes, covering the nuts and bolts of the product or service you provide, you mustn’t lose the essence of who you are and why you do what you do in the process. Telling stories around your brand and your products forms the backbone of a strong marketing strategy and really is the key to generating leads and sales both on and offline.

 

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