Storytelling is nothing new. In fact, storytelling dates back to very ancient times and predates the emergence of writing.
Today, storytelling continues to thrive and has been incorporated into companies’ marketing strategies to humanise their sales messages and form closer relationships between the brand and its audience.
But how does sales storytelling work? How is it possible to create a narrative in which your customer is the protagonist and your product or service is the solution that will save them from their problems? Let’s find out.
What is sales storytelling?
In the corporate world, storytelling refers to the practice of developing a narrative around a product with the intention of adding more value to both it and the brand. In storytelling, it’s necessary to transcend the characteristics of the product or service. The best storytellers go further and reach more subjective levels in their audience to create an emotional bond between them and the brand.
Sales storytelling seeks to create connections with potential customers by making them the protagonists in the story.
The goal is to arouse emotions through convincing and relevant stories. This enables the brand to retain the attention of the target audience and positively impact it.
Three examples of good storytelling
Coca-Cola’s campaigns are some of the greatest examples of corporate storytelling. If you look carefully, the brand’s commercials and other advertising always tell a story related to friendship, family, togetherness, and love.
The product, a carbonated soft drink, appears in the background. The focus is almost never on the characteristics of the drink, but on the values and feelings, the brand wants to pass on to its consumers.
Huggies manufactures diapers, and its main competitor is Pampers. In Canada, the latter held all hospital contracts, and until 2016 was the market leader.
That year, to compete with Pampers, Canadian Huggies launched a campaign using storytelling. They created a narrative that convinced mothers to choose Huggies instead of products from their biggest competitor.
“Hugs” means “hugs”. Therefore, the sales narrative was based on a series of scientific studies that show how hugging improves several aspects of babies’ health, such as:
- vital signs in newborns;
- the immune system; and
- brain activity.
As a result, sales of Huggies diapers increased by 30 per cent that year.
Check out the video:
In a very short time, Airbnb has shaken up the hospitality market – and storytelling is one of the main factors that made it the multi-billion-dollar company it is today.
The company’s narrative is almost always focused on hospitality, the feeling of community, and local experience.
To tell its stories, the company makes use of its users’ data intelligently. Its intricate understanding of its audience and creative use of consumer data has made it one of today’s most iconic brands.
In one campaign, the company produced several videos in which users of the platform shared their stories and addressed some specific aspect of their local cultures.
The stories told by Airbnb resonated with audiences worldwide because they generated identification with the narrative and emotional involvement. Viewers felt encouraged to learn more about the local culture presented in the video they watched.
As you can see, knowing how to tell a good story can help you engage your audience and make them identify with your brand. And that makes all the difference in sales results.
How to create your brand story
The protagonist is the audience. Anyone who thinks the hero of a brand’s storytelling is the brand is wrong. To tell a good story, you need to understand that its protagonist is your audience. That’s where to start. The best stories are about people, not brands.
Therefore, you need to understand that storytelling is a tool your brand can use to connect emotionally with people, not to pester them with something that doesn’t interest them.
People consume and share storytelling for the same reason that they recommend a movie or TV series: because they enjoyed the story! People enjoy stories that include characters they identify with.
That’s why the protagonists of your stories must align with what your audience wants to hear.
Stories such as the one about the homemade cake-maker who lost her job and recovered by using her talent to bake delicious cakes – and sell them – tend to generate empathy and be successful.
This article was first published on e27, on Aug. 5, 2020.