Storytelling marketing is a whale of a concept. However, I am sure you are familiar with the idea “people don’t buy products, they buy brands.” This idea is talked about by Coca-Cola’s European Marketing Director from ’94 in this video.
This phrase gets used in lots of different ways. Some say “people don’t buy products they buy…
- better versions of themselves
- the solutions to their problem
- the stories you tell
How Sweetwater Integrates Storytelling
I like to think about the brands I enjoy shopping with regularly and why. For instance, I have shopped with Sweetwater in Fort Wayne, IN for about 6 years now. If you are unaware, Sweetwater is one of the largest musical instrument and equipment sellers in the industry. Sweetwater has always made the buying process incredibly smooth and has been helpful along the way.
I had been shopping around for a new guitar pedal and, after chatting with a sales rep a few days prior online, I got a call out of the blue from my sales rep at Sweetwater. He was calling to check in and see if I was still interested. After spending 20 minutes on the phone and talking about music and guitar equipment, I ordered the pedal and went on with my day.
One single day later, I had the pedal at my front door (perks of living one state away), and my sales rep’s favorite pack of picks with a nice note attached. To this day, anytime I make an equipment purchase I start with Sweetwater.
That call happened years ago, and I am still Facebook friends with that sales rep, years after he left the company. That day I chose to buy a brand, not a pedal.
Now, I was probably going to buy that pedal one way or another, but that initial interaction and that attention to detail added a level of trust and comfortability with that brand that made me want to buy it from them. Up until this point, I wasn’t loyal to any specific company when it came to my musical equipment purchasing decisions, but since then, I have been.
By now I am sure you are asking why is this blog titled “storytelling marketing in 2022?” The reason is that despite choosing a brand at that moment, I was still told a story first that got my foot in the door.
Sweetwater is known for this upper echelon level of customer service (and getting a bag of candy in every purchase). After a very informative visit to their very detailed site, and talking to an expert, I was shown just how knowledgeable and helpful they were. When I thought that was everything I continued in my normal purchasing habits until again I was shown just how helpful and knowledgeable their staff was, and I bought the story (brand).
This goes to show the power of storytelling marketing. Since 2016, I have spent more money than I would like to admit with a company because of that one set of interactions I had with them years ago.
Using Tools For Storytelling
Our ability to tell stories through different mediums has evolved heavily, and we are seeing brands use mediums in ways they weren’t before. Not only are our digital mediums changing, but also the accessibility of these mediums. YouTube has been around since 2005, but we see a huge influx in video in the marketing mix. We see companies like Meta and TikTok focusing way more heavily on short-form video content.
These tools create opportunities for us to connect better with our consumer bases and tell them our brand stories in a different way, a way that is more accessible for all. This change in mediums and social channels is great, but the most important thing to remember is the story at the center of it all.
Stories create the opportunity to show a more genuine side of your products and services, but what are some other applications or ways to tell stories?
4 Tips for Better Storytelling Marketing in 2022
1. Data-Backed Storytelling
Data-backed storytelling is a valuable effort because of the context it creates. I always like being able to quantify or compare against empirical data. This helps to create a real understanding of an issue. If your brand’s mission is to improve the state of the ocean and help eliminate garbage being dumped there, it is far more powerful to quantify that.
If you were to say to your audience “there are loads of plastic and waste floating through the ocean right now,” it lacks a sense of authority. However, saying “In 2015 NatGeo found there are 5.25 trillion pieces of garbage floating through the ocean right now.” we can quantify and create a sense of urgency surrounding this issue, and it creates an opportunity for your brand to say how you plan on improving such issues.
2. Stories from Customers
Despite my love and loyalty for Sweetwater, I was not paid to tell the above anecdote. However, you can use your customer’s experience to tell their story. Customers yearn for authenticity. One way to give them exactly that is by showing them other customers stories of working with your brand. We call this approach “customer-led storytelling.” Story-based advertising works best when customers can relate to it. Knowing your audience helps to make sure you are putting the most relevant stories forward.
3. Visual Storytelling with Video
If you have been around our blog at all, you know how big of a proponent we are of adding video to your mix. Storytelling through video creates an opportunity to put a face with the brand and the subsequent story. We love interacting with people. It is part of what makes us human. Video storytelling gives your audience base to create that interaction. Beyond that, video is the preferred method of connecting with brands and they are more likely to convert because of it. Use this to highlight positive experiences and create a connection with this demographic.
4. Influencers Telling Their Stories Their Way
Marketers like to have control over the keywords and language surrounding their products or services when working with influencers. However, the tides are turning on this. We are seeing a change where storytelling will move towards more creator-driven storytelling. This is likely because influencers are viewed as an extension of the company, held to specific verbiage and tone standards.
The genuine connection audiences crave seems a bit disingenuous when coming from someone held to these dictated standards. The shift to creator-driven storytelling opens a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to their own experience with your products or services. They control the narrative and express their feelings. This gives audiences their connection and a sense of security to feel less like they are being sold to.
Storytelling marketing will continue to be important. It’s important to remember to focus on being the most authentic version of your brand so the true story can stand forward. Interested in working together on developing this strategy? Reach out today!