Since the beginning of time stories have been a way to entertain, educate, inform, and connect us. Historically, it’s the earliest documented form of communication before language ever became a thing – take that in for a moment. Because of this we tend to gravitate towards great stories and seem to become geniuses at remembering even the smallest of details. Seriously, ask anyone what happened when Frodo decided to put on the ring for the first time in The Lord of the Rings, and they’ll tell you that on top of details about where, when, and how that happened. In contrast, should I even bother asking how much of a 1000-page textbook you retained from your favorite class? I’d be surprised if you told me anything above 1% to tell you the honest truth. People are excellent at telling and receiving stories so it’s no wonder that online marketing experts have noticed and taken advantage of this.
Origin Stories Introduce the 5 “W’s” of your Brand
Stories can introduce your audience to the who, what, where, when, and why of your brand in a very natural way that’s easy to consume because hey, it’s a story. You can use an origin story as a great way to break the ice about what lead to the emergence of your brand. I highly recommend using this strategy when creating the “about us” section of your website. Many people often get stuck when I tell them to try this out because they have no idea where to start. My response has always been the same – use your truth. You never have to think hard about the nitty, gritty and not-always-pretty truth about your roots. In fact, the more of a struggle it may have been, the more you might relate to your niche who may also live through similar struggles. Besides, in the fact-checking world we live in today it’s better to remain true than to have someone spend 5 minutes on Google figuring out you didn’t actually start from the bottom *cough* Drake *cough*. Origin stories should include bits about where you started from, where it took you, what struggles you encountered along the way, why you thought you could succeed, and how you grew as a result of this entire journey. It’s also helpful to make clear the beliefs and values your brand holds as a result, that way you can target the beliefs and values of your ideal niche.
Stories for Online Marketing Must Offer Value
Another important question I get is: how am I supposed to market products using a story? The quick answer is you don’t. Stories are not meant to promote a particular product explicitly because customers and clients can sniff that from a mile away. That’s not to say that stories can’t have anything to do with your products because they should definitely connect somehow. However, it should give your customers perceived value with incentive to keep coming back. This can come in the form of excellent advice about how to pick the right product (that you happen to sell), reviews or research about those products/services, etc. Creating an excellent story should take some time. Work on delivering excellent content that has relevant resources, good personality, is fun to consume, and shouts “value”. Stories don’t only come in the form of written articles/blogs though. You can create a story on your Instagram by continually posting photos about your brand experience. Or, you can create a bad-ass high quality 4-minute video that delivers your story in an amusing fashion. At the end of the day find out what you and your company is best at when it comes to the type of content and triple down on it to create effective stories.
Why Not Document your Brand’s Journey?
So you finally created an origin story and it’s epic. It highlights all the struggles and success your company has experienced and relates extremely well with your target audience. Now what? To effectively use stories for online marketing, you should continue creating them. Without getting too worked up about what to write I’ll make this easy for you – why not just document your daily journey? It doesn’t have to be the most amazing thing ever. It’s easy to do because again it’s your truth. This means you can constantly create content without worrying about coming up with ideas all the time. One example is starting a regular vlog that can show the highlights of each day or week at your company. I’m not promising it will be the greatest stuff ever but your journey might just appeal to a larger audience than you may expect and I truly believe it’s worth a shot.
Enticing customers with effective storytelling is something that big companies like Nike and Apple have done remarkably well. To put this into perspective, think about the simple slogan “just do it” for a moment. This particular phrase has no impact on its own. Nike decided to take it, create a story behind it, and make it something that reminds everyone not living under a rock that you will think about us when you hear that phrase. Now are you convinced? Get your pencils, keyboards, cameras, and go pros ready – it’s time to tell your story!