“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
― Philip Pullman
While social media platforms have afforded us convenience in the line of communication, storytelling remains one of the most powerful tools to engage your customers to know your brand.
Advertising innovator and iconoclast Howard Gossage said that people do not actually read ads, but rather what would pique their interests. This is very much true today. With the advent of the Digital Age— and the rise of popular sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter — it was only a matter of how you would be able to capture the interest of your prospective customers. And visual storytelling is one way to do it.
Proof? Visual storytelling has become a successful marketing trend being used by big businesses such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. In a recent advertisement released by Starbucks, it revealed why its baristas intentionally made an error in spelling the name of its customers. This stratagem of Starbucks was to prompt its customers to share their experiences on social media, and in effect giving a boost on the promotion of the brand name. It was effective; baristas kept getting your name wrong, and you still kept posting it online.
Ed Woodcock, director of narrative at Aesop Agency, said that the Digital Age ushered in a year in which “brand storytelling joined the mainstream.”
The infographic above shows the consumption levels among users on a daily basis. This very well shows that social media platforms have indeed become viable media in which to promote your products.
So here are 8 different ways to deliver an effective storytelling that would boost your brand:
1. Personalize your stories
Often you are told in story telling that you must deliver it as truthfully and honestly as possible, without beating around the bush. You want to get to the heart of the matter. William Bernbach said it best when he said that the most powerful element in advertising is the truth.
The same is true for visual storytelling. People want to listen to stories that they could relate to, shared experiences that would tug the heartstrings of the customers. McDonalds, for example, is very successful in telling short but sweet stories that every time would catch the attention of the viewers.
Moreover, Apple has been commended many times over for its sensitivity towards its customers. One of its most-watched videos was an LGBT pride march where the company handed out shirts with a different-colored Apple logo on them. It had become part of its thrust and social responsibility to reach out to its customer of all political stripes and colors, and different orientations.
2. Set your stories apart from others
To help your brand stand out and reach its shore to different people, you must offer engaging stories that would make them feel at ease and your brand accessible to them. Of course, you want the stories you tell to stand out from others. You must challenge conventional thinking. One way to do this is to know how your brand would pique the interests of your customers, and address their concerns, if there are any.
If need be, you could cater to a particular niche whose interests fit your brand’s traditional values. Or, in a larger scale, you must step outside of the box to capture a wider audience; if you are brave enough, go against the grain. This is why giant brands such as Apple are successful in what they do because they always push the envelope, and always remembers to include what had always been ignored. One of its taglines, “Inclusion Inspires Innovation,” worked effective on many levels.
3. Do it subtly, but effectively
The interface of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allows many posts to flood its news feed, creating clutter on your screen. It is hard to weed out from the stories uploaded every minute to find out those which were worth seeing, and those better left in the trash bin.
David Oglivy said that a good advertisement is one which sells the products without drawing attention to itself. You do not want to slap your products on the faces of your customers. This is what you would call a hard sell. And besides, people might not be interested in what you have to offer. So present your products in subtle way that it would not come off a nuisance to your customers. Your story must speak for itself. If it is done wonderfully, it would work its way to the screen of your target market.
4. Be a friend to your customers
One way to connect with your customers is to create a lasting relationship with them. This means accommodating their needs, without compromising your products’ quality. Possibly, the reason why many restaurants closed shop was because they had not been consistent with the quality of their food and their service, and thus driving their customers away. You are their friend; you must invite your customers to your home with warm milk and some cookies. If they have any comments and suggestions on your products, let their voices be heard. If they have scathing remarks on a post you made online, accept their feedback with an open mind. This way, they will be more forgiving to you.
5. Be consistent, but learn to push the envelope
The reason your customers are patronizing your products is primarily because of the quality of your products. Should the quality waver, your customers might opt to look elsewhere. But also, you must keep in mind that in the fast-paced, ever-changing Digital World we live in, cutthroat companies are everywhere with a breakthrough innovation. You must learn to keep up with the changes, and at the same time, not compromise the quality of your services.
6. Make your old stories new; avoid cliches
By now, you know that all stories have already been told, that there is nothing new anymore. Everything is a copy of a copy. While you could not contend with this fact, what you could do is to present stories in a fresh perspective, in a new light. Writer-artist John Cage said that there was nothing creative in the materials we do, the stories we tell, and the poems we write. You perform things on the traditions of those who have come before you. But with all the information available, and the anxiety of influence (as what critic Harold Bloom coined) you are working under, the advantage of this is that you could always mix and match different styles that would generate something new. For the new is always ready to be born.
7. Don’t sell yourself short
In this day and age, competition is cutthroat and marketing teams are cunning and sly. You must be ahead of them and yourself to step up your game. While this is an important component in advertising strategy, you must remember that what remains important is how you craft your content for social media.
What are you really trying to sell? What medium are you using? Are you communicating? You must highlight on this, and remember not to lose sight on the vision and thrust of your brand. Strategies to boost your brand must only come after you have perfected your brand. Over and above everything, your communication strategies are much more important than your advertising strategies.
8. Inspire innovation
Apple has a very inspiring message that goes: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels… They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” This could not be more agreeable. Innovation starts from those who wish to start it. You have the power to create and inspire innovation with the products you sell and the stories you tell. And storytelling is one such powerful tool to act this out. As American writer Joan Didion said it, we live in order to tell stories.
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