It’s becoming increasingly challenging to grab an audience’s attention. According to Forbes, on average, Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. So how can you get your brand to stand out from the crowd? One way is to use storytelling in content marketing. We’ll discuss why this is such a powerful strategy and give some examples of brands that use storytelling to their advantage.
Most of us have watched an episode of “Days of Our Lives” before. And even if you haven’t seen the show, you’ve probably heard of it, since it’s one of the world’s longest running scripted TV shows — or soap operas — and has aired every weekday since 1965.
But what few of us know is that the term “soap opera” originates from the fact that this kind of daytime television drama was originally sponsored by soap manufacturers. For example, Procter & Gamble produced its own shows “As the World Turns” and “The Edge of Night” as early as the 1950s.
And what’s so interesting to note is that those soap manufacturers were way ahead of their time in terms of content marketing. Because as TV became more influential in the 1960s, marketing focused more on ads and commercials that interrupted — for lack of a better word — the stories that magazines and TV shows were telling. And since the audience had no choice but to keep reading or watching if they wanted to know how the story ended, both ads and commercials were very effective. At the same time, brands were at the mercy of the publishers and producers that owned the media and only sold as much advertising space or time as they wanted to.
But then the Internet came along and changed everything.
Now, the audience can scroll, swipe or tap away from an ad that doesn’t interest them. So when you consider that according to Forbes, Americans are exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day, it’s more important than ever before for brands to make themselves memorable. Fortunately, they have a huge advantage — they don’t have to purchase space or airtime from publishers and producers anymore. They can simply create their own media.
Nevertheless, the question remains: How — in this world of digital noise — can you make your brand stand out from the crowd?
One way is to take a note from the soap manufacturers’ playbook — and tell stories.
Why Is Storytelling So Powerful?
Humans have been telling each other stories for thousands of years. Why? Storytelling is a deeply human experience that brings people together and drives strong, meaningful connections.
When used as a marketing strategy, it can draw people in and prevent them from scrolling, swiping or clicking away. Stories are easy to consume and easy to remember because they provide context — something that makes people understand the main message.
So how does storytelling relate to marketing?
In marketing, your objective is to sell a product or service that your audience needs. However, your audience’s objective is to solve a problem.
Of course, you can provide a list of your product’s features, compare it to your competitors’ products and advertise a low price — but this has two significant problems. First, you only have a matter of seconds to hook — and hold — your audience’s attention. And second, most people won’t remember all the attributes, facts and figures you list.
If, on the other hand, you tell a story about how your product or service helped someone solve a problem or meet a need, you’ll engage them. They’re far more likely to keep reading or watching — plus, they’re more likely to remember your brand.
Brands That Use Storytelling to Their Advantage
To better understand just how powerful storytelling is as a marketing tool, consider the following examples from the Content Marketing Institute:
Blendtec, a blender manufacturer, wasn’t having much success with its marketing strategy — until it started making videos of what the blender could do and posting them on YouTube. Have you ever seen what happens when you put an iPhone in a blender?
Now, the company’s videos rack up literally hundreds of thousands of views.
Red Bull, the energy-drink, taps into its audience’s passion for action sports and tells stories of great athletes doing wild and crazy thing. This video of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2019 had more than 70,000 views in April 2019 alone. And note: The energy drink isn’t the main focus of the story — the action is.
What do you do if you’re a world-class brand that engineers some of the most amazing machines in the world? Well, if you’re GE, you make a series of masterclasses, like this one that explains how a jet engine works. Total views? More than 682,500.
And last, but certainly not least, the hotel brand Marriott has started creating a range of digital, TV, film and animation content. Check out this super fun video titled “Two Bellmen,” winner of the hospitality category of the 8th Annual Shorty Awards and watched more than five million times on YouTube alone.
To Sell Your Product, Tell Your Story
The lesson is: If you want to sell your product, you first have to grab the public’s attention and create an emotional bond with them. And the best way to do that is by telling an engaging story that’s representative of your product and/or brand.
For more information and assistance in creating your story, please contact us today.