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Effective storytelling in marketing

Storytelling is one of my favourite techniques in an online video. Don’t get me wrong; I know how effective an explainer video or a demo video or an event video can be, but there’s something about a story that drags me in and has me staring unblinking at the screen until it’s over. I can’t help myself. Promise me a story with an ending and I’ll watch the dullest video on the internet all the way to the end.

Obviously not all audiences are like me. There are those out there that have a problem and want a solution. Those consumers want to see explainer videos and demo videos, not fanciful stories. Really, this is all about knowing your audience (just like every other marketing decision you’ve ever made).

But let’s say you’re targetting me. You’re targetting an audience that has a lot of spare time and spends most of it on the internet, heading to websites just like yours to browse products I can’t quite afford…unless you can convince me otherwise.

So tell me a story.

What kind of story do you want to tell? Do you have an interesting origin story? If so, that’s definitely a good place to start. You can describe your product while telling me how you started in the industry. Be careful here, though. Remember that I’ve heard it all before. If you and your friend were sitting around one day and thought, “You know what? We did pretty well in school, let’s start a tutoring company!” then I probably don’t care. I’m sorry. It’s not that your startup story is boring, but your startup story is boring. If that’s the case for you, try telling a different story.

Everyone has an origin story

Everyone has an origin story

Maybe you can tell me about a particular success story. Sticking with the tutoring example, there should be hundred of success stories to choose from. Choose the most interesting and tell me about it. Be sure it will hook me in. I know, I know. I said I’ll watch a story to the end no matter what, but that doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy it and I definitely won’t share it if I don’t.

Lie to me. I don’t mean make false promises, but there’t nothing wrong with making something up. That’s what most advertising is, after all. I don’t really believe Budweiser met a puppy and a horse that are best buds, but for a minute (three and a half minutes if you count the sequel), Budweiser have me completely engrossed.

Even though this particular ad was aired on television during the Superbowl in 2014, it does a great job of capturing attention immediately and holding it until the end.

If you’ve decided storytelling is the right option for you, start brainstorming and getting creative!

By Emma Wilkinson

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