Originally published on December 5, 2018, updated January 17, 2020
Ready to differentiate your brand? Guest author and business strategist Josh Carlyle shares his ideas for using storytelling techniques to make your brand stand out.
How can you make your brand stand out in the face of overwhelming competition? You can choose whether you want to invest in your customer experience or use storytelling techniques. To maximize your impact, it’s better to do both.
Storytelling isn’t a new phenomenon in marketing. Telling stories through advertising can be traced back to ancient civilizations. It’s only because of the triumph of social media and content marketing that companies have started to prioritize storytelling in brand communication.
For 72% of marketing professionals, content creation is the most effective SEO tactic. The challenge is to make brand stories effective pieces of online content. Your content should both engage and convince your audience. Many consumers don’t trust brands. Perhaps their expectations weren’t met, or they weren’t delivered what they were promised. This is why you need to earn your customers’ trust.
There are actions that you can take to increase the effectiveness of your brand marketing. Here are five ways to do that:
Your brand narrative should summarize the benefits that your product or service can deliver to your customers. This is the value of your brand. Your narrative needs to introduce your brand: who you are, what your values are and what sets you apart from other brands. Consider what makes your brand unique and use it as a selling point in your narrative.
Make sure that your brand stories are rooted in the reality of your brand. Be creative and consistent at the same time. Otherwise, you will confuse your customers and turn them away.
You also need to ensure that the language in your brand stories is polished. Spelling mistakes can give the wrong first impression. In case your content could use some editing, there are tools and services, such as Grammarly, Handmade Writing and Readable, that can help you with this stage.
A common mistake for many businesses is to use targets that are too general: for example, business owners. Targeting a specific market doesn’t mean that you exclude people who don’t fit into these categories. It just means that you focus your budget on a market that is more likely to convert into customers.
To do this, you can start by looking at your current customer base. Search for common characteristics and interests among your customers. Which ones bring in the most profit? You can also take a look at your competitors and try to find a niche that they have overlooked. You also need to analyze your own products or services and consider who would benefit from them the most. Finally, you can turn to demographic factors such as age, location, gender and income level.
After you have defined your target audience, you can segment them based on criteria such as frequency of use (one-time, casual or regular) and level of engagement (passive, active, or advocate). You can also segment your audience based on their needs. For example, a beginner user has much fewer demands for your product or service than a professional user. Users have also different preferences for channels. Some segments, for example, don’t use social media.
Once you have defined your target audience and segmented them into personas, you can create your brand personas. The analysis should have revealed what type of content and which platforms are the best to convince your audience. Brand personas supplement your data about consumers and allow you to target new consumer segments.
Clearly defined brand personas help you deliver a compelling brand story to the right consumers. Make these personas relatable and include details such as their age, income level, interests and problems. Your audience should feel an emotional connection to these personas while listening to their stories.
In addition to creating a compelling brand story, you need to decide what is the optimal way to distribute it. A cross-channel marketing campaign is an effective way to ensure that your target audience will receive your message.
Consumers are using different technologies and being active on different platforms, and your marketing strategies should be adapted to this trend. This means including SEO, social media and email marketing all in one cohesive marketing strategy. You can also use your offline marketing channels to promote your online content.
Data seems to have a special appeal to us as it can catch our attention better than mere words. Therefore, collecting, analyzing and utilizing data can improve your content marketing strategy substantially.
Data provides a better understanding of your audience. It also has the power to enhance the authority and credibility of your brand. Data-based stories lend themselves easily to cross-marketing campaigns. Brand stories become more powerful when they are complemented by data. Together they appeal to us both emotionally and intellectually.
Before creating your data-driven content, you must ask yourself: what kind of data is your audience interested in? Even with data, your audience always comes first. Use data to complement stories that resonate with people.
Keep in mind that data can come in many formats. It’s not necessary to only stick to charts and graph. Other formats such as reports, videos and webinars are also good ways to convey information to consumers.
Similar to other forms of narrative, your brand stories should follow a certain structure. This structure includes a beginning, a middle and an end.
In the beginning, you establish the setting and characters of your story. The middle presents a problem that your character is facing and trying to solve until a solution is revealed at the end. This is the universal story arc that your audience also expects. Your job is to make it engaging and captivating so that your audience wants to hear the whole story and share it with others, too.
I hope that these tips can help you implement storytelling techniques in your brand strategy. Effective communication with customers is crucial for any successful business. Learning how to communicate with customers through storytelling can help your brand become more memorable to consumers.
If you want to read more about brand communication, you might want to check out this earlier post about how to write A+ content to build your brand.
Originally published on December 5, 2018, updated January 17, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.