Friday 01, Oct 2021

Why storytelling for business actually works

What do you remember from school? Long division? Algebra? What about your periodic table? Can you remember the difference between a conjunction and a preposition? Unless you work in a specific industry that requires you to use this knowledge daily, you’ve probably forgotten it.

But you remember Little Red Riding Hood, right?

That’s because it was told to you in narrative form. Narratives can activate the parts of the brain that are primed to recall and receive information. Stories, while arguably more enjoyable than mathematics, can also act as mnemonic devices. This is when abstract material is organised into a memorable structure.

But what does storytelling have to do with your business?

Storytelling is an art and art causes emotional reactions and responses. It is emotions that outweigh rational thinking when it comes to purchasing decisions and as you know, sales are rather good for business. We all like to believe we make rational decisions with our spending. We don’t. We are human and our emotions are the primary driver behind most of our purchases.

Remember, if you tug on their heartstrings, you pull on their purse strings.

That may read as cold-blooded sales talk, but this is a marketing article after all. Now, while this is all good in theory, how do you apply the concept of storytelling without a big advertising budget?

Genuinely useful storytelling examples

If you look up ‘brand storytelling’ online, you’ll find plenty of examples from big brands with buckets o’ cash. Here’s a couple of smaller examples for small businesses.

Example # 1

An accessories brand needs to move the last of their pink wallets with a low-stock themed social post. While low-stock messages commonly use FOMO tactics, there’s always time to tell a story.

Post WITHOUT story

Our baby pink wallets are low in stock! Don’t miss out. Shop online to get yours now.

Post WITH story

When you’re this pretty, you’re pretty popular. Shop the last of baby pink before she sells out!

In the second version, we’ve ascribed a personality to the product that will resonate with a subset of younger customers and retained our FOMO tactic. The lesson here? Be creative wherever you can.

Example # 2

At the other end of the spectrum, an industrial coatings business needs a blog heading that summarises the advantage of recoating fleet vehicles for asset lifespan extension.

Blog heading WITHOUT story

Extending fleet vehicle usage with industrial coatings

Blog heading WITH story

How we added an extra 10 years to the life of this fleet

This second heading incentivises with the promise of a story and a value-based insight.

In what kinds of channels are stories best distributed?

That is something only you can answer as a business owner. If you know who your target customers are, then you know where they hang out, what they watch, what they follow and what social platforms they are using. Use this intel to be strategic about where best to place those stories for maximum engagement from your intended audience.

What’s the point of good storytelling?

Good stories get shared. That is how you generate new traffic and onboard new customers. If people enjoy a story or know someone who will, it is retold. This could be through word-of-mouth, digital resharing or user-generated content.

Super hot final tip

Video video video. It is a way to reach consumers with minimal effort on their part, and they will reward you for it. Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined. They don’t have to be super high-quality productions that cost a bomb. Anyone with a smartphone can make a decent video story.

Need more? There’s plenty of expert marketers right here in Geelong who would love to help you tell your story.

With thanks to our guest author:

Abbey Jane
Lead Copywriter & Brand Strategist