Harness the Power of Story Marketing

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We recognize the power of stories from an early age. We learn from them, get inspired by them, and have many feelings because of them. Perhaps that’s why, with increased competition and reduced attention spans, more and more brands are turning to story marketing techniques.

What Is Story Marketing?

Story marketing is a strategy that harnesses the power of narrative, character, and emotion to reach customers more effectively and convey key brand attributes. By leveraging a storytelling approach, this technique helps customers place a brand’s products and services in context, clarifying how those offerings can address problems, needs, or wants in their lives. It’s also a powerful way to make emotional connections rather than just logical ones, leading to positive outcomes like brand stickiness, brand awareness, and customer loyalty.

Research has shown that emotional connection– which is often developed through smart, well-designed, and relatable storytelling – is a crucial driver of brand loyalty. One study found that emotional attachment was the most significant value driver, responsible for about 43% of business value, compared to product features at just 20%.[1] Emotional attachment can come from various sources, so your customer experience must align with the “story” you tell in your marketing.

Story marketing, then, takes the tools used in storytelling and applies them to your brand and customers. However, instead of telling stories about fictional characters, you’re telling the story of your brand, people, and clients and how those components come together to overcome challenges and solve problems. This approach to storytelling and marketing brings together some of the more nebulous ideas surrounding a brand, like ’brand identity,’ ’brand values,’ and just plain ’personality.’ As you convey these in your marketing strategy, you let your customers and potential customers get to know your brand more deeply. Then, just like with person-to-person relationships, the more they understand you, the more likely they are to trust you.


Not sure where to begin or what to include?

  • As you start mapping out your plan, consider questions such as the following:
  • What attributes do we pride ourselves on as a brand?
  • What is our mission? What do we aim to deliver to customers?
  • What sets us apart from the competition?
  • What are our business goals?

From here, you can begin to collect and build ’stories’ around which to center your marketing while aligning with your culture and long-term goals.


The Hero’s Journey

As any writer will tell you, the spine of most effective stories is the ’hero’s journey.’ This classic narrative structure supports many of your favorite books, movies, and TV shows – and it’s a powerful tool in the hands of skilled story marketers.

So, who’s your hero? It’s not your brand; it’s your customer. With this approach, you’re placing the customer at the heart of your story. Brush up on the classic storytelling form from high school English class: a character’s status quo is disrupted by a problem (or, perhaps, their status quo is the problem), they encounter obstacles while trying to solve it, and the conflict is ultimately resolved.

How does this apply to marketing? If your customer is the hero, your products and/ or services should answer their ’conflict’ or ’problem.’ The ‘rising action’ is a significant storytelling element that shouldn’t be overlooked. When marketing your solutions, you’re not in a vacuum; you’re entering a market with competitor products or services, and you need to convince customers not only of the value of your offerings, but also that they should choose yours over the alternatives. Highlight how existing, other solutions don’t address the problem fully (i.e., the ’rising action’ of the plot), then emphasize how yours does fill those gaps.

The idea behind all of this is to empower the customer. It’s easy to be tempted to make the brand itself the “hero” of the story, but it risks coming across as self-congratulatory. Instead, a story that centers the customer can position your brand as the solution to their problems, empowering them to make a better future.

If your customer is Cinderella, you’re the Fairy Godmother: making their wishes come true and giving them what they need for a happily ever after.


Storytelling with Marketing Strategies

Developing a great storytelling strategy starts with asking the right questions. Several of

these are probably questions you already have considered, such as:

  • Who is our ideal customer and/or primary audience?
  • What problem do they have that we can solve?
  • What makes us different from/better than the competition?
  • What about us will appeal to our audience?
  • What values does our brand communicate as part of that appeal?

It may help to consider the real story of your brand. Why does it exist? Who launched it, and why, and how does that tie into its current status? If you can draw a connection between your brand’s story and your customers’, which can create even more powerful ties.

The best thing about story marketing is that it is remarkably flexible. It can support an omnichannel strategy, spanning direct mail, social media, email campaigns, and more. It is tailor-made for some of today’s most high-tech solutions, like PQR codes, augmented and virtual reality, and interactive experiences that immerse customers even more into the world – and the story – you create. It’s simple: when you invite people to be part of your story, they’ll respond.

[1] Hyken, Shep. “Customer Loyalty Comes From An Emotional Connection.” Forbes, 23 October 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2022/10/23/customer-loyalty-comes-from-an-emotional-connection/?sh=49bb36e0682a.