Why Storytelling should be part of your marketing strategy
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
Unpopular opinion: marketing is an art form.
Okay, okay, I know I sound like a total bohemian ‘freedom, beauty, truth and love’ fruitcake here, but hear me out. Like painting or writing, it’s a medium to elicit thoughts, feelings and ideas in an effort to truly speak to people. To get them to tap into their emotions and decide whether or not your product or service fits into their own story. See where I’m going with this?
The fact is, there’s obviously a stark difference between being able to inspire people, and just simply trying to sell to them a product or service. But it’s a difference not many businesses recognise. As Simon Sinek said in his TED Talk on ‘The Golden Circle’, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
The Golden Circle
First, tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Then, how this will help your audience.
And finally, tell them what you’re offering.
Everyone knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few people and organisations know why. And before you say it, try to think a little deeper than ‘to make a profit’. What’s your purpose, cause, or belief? Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone else care?
Not everyone cares about your marketing goals, but everyone loves a good story. — Shane Snow, HubSpot
Inspired organisations think, act, and communicate starting from the inside out in a storytelling way. Sure, you can start with how you’ve got the biggest, best product in the whole entire world. But let’s be honest, it’s pretty uninspiring. That’s why great stories sell. We respond to the ‘why’ more, because that’s what resonates most in our minds. Seriously.
*Puts on lab coat and specs* The limbic part of the brain is the system which controls behaviour. For example, the Amygdala is the emotion center of the brain, and the Hippocampus helps form new memories about past experiences. Features, benefits, facts and figures are easy to understand, but it doesn’t drive behaviour. So, your marketing efforts should be talking to the limbic part of the brain that not only drives behaviour, but questions the ‘why’ of that behaviour. That is what evokes emotion and response in people.
Take Apple, for example. Their whole ‘thing’ is that they believe in thinking differently. And the way they do this is inspiring creative, meaningful ideas via beautifully designed, simple, user friendly technology. See what they did there? The ‘why’ always comes first, and then the product.
Let’s take a look at the video above. The question posed by Apple here is “What will your verse be?” Using the voice over of one of Robin Williams’ speeches in the film Dead Poet’s Society (great film, by the way), Apple makes viewers stop thinking about the geeky technicalities of Apple products for a moment, and instead about how they’ll contribute their own verse, their own story, to the world. Poetically, this advertisement asks ‘what are you going to do with your life? What will you contribute to the world?’ But they’ve been very clever, you see. Because you walk away considering how an iPad might help you do just that.
So, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that really makes things stick in our minds. Next time you want to spruce up your website copy or write a blog post, have a go at storytelling instead. You might be surprised at the positive results it can bring.