How To Tell Your Brand’s Story Even if You Don’t Think You Have One

by | Jul 15, 2016 | Content Marketing | 0 comments

The classic fairytale 1,001 Nights is a perfect example of the power of storytelling, and it goes a little like this: King Shahryar, an ancient Persian royal, after finding out that his wife had, well, cheated on him, made a vow to marry a different woman every day. In an effort to avoid what had happened before, he would have each new wife beheaded at the end of the day. (Not exactly a children’s fairytale.) So, anyways, wife number 1,001, Scheherazade, was apparently way smarter than the previous thousand wives, because she thought up a way to stay alive until the second day: tell a story. She didn’t tell just any story. She told one story that led into another, and then another, and then another and so on. The king was so captivated with the series of interlocking tales that he kept his wife alive night after night until the 1,001st night when the couple realized they had fallen in love.

It might be just fiction, but this fairytale demonstrates how powerful stories can be and what a profound effect they can have on people. In a way, your goal is the same as Scheherazade’s: Stay alive in the competitive business world using powerful elements of storytelling. Here’s how you can apply those elements to your content marketing.

1. Relate to Your Audience

Bastian from The Neverending Story, Harry Potter from the series of the same name, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy. These characters and the books they appear in were all wildly successful because they spoke directly to the young adults that were following their adventures. You can do the same thing in your content marketing. Know who your audience is (you will likely have more than one demographic) and create content that speaks to their pains, wants, wishes and needs. Lots of brands opt to let their customers tell the story of the products in a variety of different formats.

2. Create a Conflict, then a Resolution

Many great stories are satisfying because they have a clearly defined conflict and a resolution. A hero encounters an obstacle and solves it. A group of people uncovers a mystery and they figure it out. Use your knowledge of your audience to talk about problems they may face, but remember to also give them a solution.

3. Remember the Story Arc

Once upon a time, the end. No one would write or read a story that simple, right? That may be true for fiction, but plenty of content marketing takes this approach. Before an audience understands what’s being sold to them, they’re pushed to the finish line and pressured to buy, subscribe or schedule a call. Respect the story arc and lead your readers through the buying process from the point when they don’t even know that they have a problem to understanding that your product could be the solution and what to do next. Content marketing isn’t about hard selling tactics. It’s about capturing the intangible ideas and purpose behind what your company does and presenting that to your customers in a way they can understand.

What Kind of Stories Should You Write?

While you can inject these elements of good storytelling content in any kind of blog post or piece of content, there are a few stories you should absolutely be telling.

  • Case Studies: These are stories about how other people use and benefit from your products and services. They possess greater credibility because they come from an outside source.
  • Your History: There’s nothing like a compelling origin story. Chances are you (if you’re a small business owner) or the owner of your company got into business for a reason. That’s a story worth telling.
  • Your Culture: How does work get done at your company? Where does it get done? Who are the people doing it? Chances are each one of these questions can spawn at least several stories.
  • Your Passions: Companies are composed of people. Let your audience in on the lives of your employees and what drives them at work and outside of it.
  • Your Products in Action: The Lego Movie featured animated representations of an almost entirely lego-constructed world and is a genius example of branded storytelling. This blog post from The Sales Lion has more details on how Lego exemplifies key elements of brand storytelling.
  • Your Customers: These stories are case studies on a more personal level. How do people use your products in their daily lives? How does it improve your customers’ quality of life and make things easier, better, happier, or more exciting for them?

While your situation as a business isn’t as dire as Scheherazade’s, it should be important to you that you keep your audience coming back day after day, just as Scheherazade did with King Shahryar. With the tactics above, you’ll have no trouble captivating your customers, and turning them into devoted brand advocates.

Drew Allen
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