Today’s customers are inundated with marketing messages, news updates, goofy memes and personal social media threads. All but the most urgent have become easy-to-ignore white noise. How can your message stand out in all that cacophony? What’s more, your customers don’t respond to out-and-out advertisements in the positive way people used to. In fact, they don’t trust it. So again we ask: how do you break through their armor-plated message filters? Storytelling is the answer!
“Neuroscience tells us that humans are hardwired to learn better if someone’s words have meaning and emotion to them.”
Engage with stories
If you pay attention to marketing trends at all, you’ve probably heard at least a bit about storytelling.
“The art of storytelling is a rising trend that engages users and keeps them coming back for more,” says Carolanne Manges, writing for Smart Insights. When you start looking for them, stories are everywhere, told in words and images. “Visuals are great, but simply not enough,” adds Manges.
When marketers encourage you to tell your story, they don’t mean the “Once upon a time. . .” kind. And we emphatically don’t want you to “tell stories” in the lying sense. Ever.
A good story is creative, human, and real. People connect to people. Neuroscience tells us that humans are “hardwired to learn better if someone’s words have meaning and emotion to them,” writes Paul Jarvis in an article titled “5 Common Elements of Good Storytelling” published by Inc. Master teachers and motivational speakers alike use this knowledge.
“As the trusted advisor, help the customer find the solution to their problem — make them the hero.”
Storytelling tips from a copywriter
Keep it short and concise. Ernest Hemingway was a master story teller from whom marketers can learn a few things. He is known to have penned this story, complete in six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Something this simple, this powerful, this heavy with emotion, takes a lot of work to get right. Every word matters. Even the punctuation. Translate this skill to a tagline, and — boom.
Open with a hook. Remember, you haveonly seconds to engage customers before they decide to leave your page. A hook might be a quote, a succinct pain point, a question, or an image. Curiosity and surprise will create interest.
Use specific, sensory language. This is not the time to throw around business jargon like collaborative or visibility or innovate. Your goal is to engage your customers as humans, not impress them with your vocabulary.
Get personal. Guidelines for formal business writing don’t apply here, and your English teacher’s red pen is far away. Go ahead and use personal pronouns like I and you. Yes, a story is casual and subjective. That’s what makes it work so beautifully.
Give your story a hero and a challenge. In the best marketing stories, you are not the hero. If this were Star Wars, you would be Obi Wan Kenobi. As the trusted advisor, you help the customer find the solution to their problem — make them the hero. Sometimes the solution to the challenge at hand will be your product or service — sometimes it won’t.
Find an entertaining and engaging way to add to your customer’s hero journey, and your stories will intertwine. Talk about epic.