You will be hard-pressed to read a blog about marketing trends that doesn't include a mention of storytelling. And while we obviously believe that storytelling is a fantastic way to connect with your audience (hey, it's in our name), we've had a hard time finding blogs that give real examples, tactics and digital storytelling ideas that will help you incorporate it with the ever-growing list of things that you should focus on as a marketer. So who better to fill the void than a StoryTeller?
We know that in the world of modern, digital marketing, there are endless blogs, guides, tip sheets and more, so here is a straight-forward list of 6 ideas that will help you get add digital storytelling to your marketing mix.
1. Find Real, Interesting Stories
(Hint: They probably won't be from your C-Suite)
We've all seen them, the "about us" videos with 5-minutes of executives in suits, talking about why Company X is superior to all other companies out there. These videos have been the go-to "stories" for companies to tell over the last several years and there is nothing inherently wrong with them, but most of them aren't particularly compelling either.
Done well, digital storytelling allows us to connect with our audience on an emotional level, to create stories that are inspiring, memorable and captivating. Take this video below as an example — watch the story of Jim Chalmers. Jim is amazing man, who has done inspirational work for both The Special Olympics and at his job, working as a janitor at Red Wing Shoe Company.
As marketers, it's important that we take a step back and remember that the most interesting stories are not the elusive, brilliant marketing campaign, but the stories of real people that are right in front of us every day.
2. Change the World
As consumers we are fed up with companies who exist solely to keep growing and make more money. We realize that each organization has a chance to make an impact on the world and a lot of companies are doing that every single day, but many of them fail to tell that story, to invite their customers to share in that process with them and give buyers a chance to join in with a cause that's bigger than themselves.
While there are almost endless examples of companies that give back, think about ways that your company can foster community, grow your brand AND give back. Here are a few examples:
- Create a video with awareness to a specific need or cause, donate a dollar to a charity for every like, share or comment on the video.
- Create a give back program: Ask customers to submit ideas of families in need of your product or service and select an individual or family to win.
- Take a group of workers from your organization and volunteer at a homeless shelter, doing community service projects or supporting a local charity and invite your customers and prospects to serve with you.
- Get creative! What is your company's unique take on how to give back to your community?
3. Tell Lots of Small Stories
Companies often feel like their story is too hard to tell. If you offer a variety of products and services, distilling down your message into digestible bites can seem like a daunting task. So start small. What's one thing you do really well? Can you tell that story?
I love this commercial campaign from Ace Hardware. Obviously a hardware store carries tons of products and offers expertise on lots of different kinds of projects. Telling the total story of everything you could go to Ace Hardware for (in under 30 seconds) would be impossible. So they didn't even try. They made a whole series of videos that play on the vast variety of things that you can find and learn in their stores.
4. Simplify Your Story
Something that we hear a lot when doing video production for companies is "my story is too complicated, people won't understand what we do if we create a short video story." Your right, they probably won't understand ever nuance of your company, or every piece of the process, but our goal with stories is not that your clients and prospects will understand the Board Meeting Quarterly Report version of what your company does.
Digital storytelling is a great way for your customers and community to understand pieces and parts of what drives your company, to engage with them enough that you motivate them to take the next action step. Try to focus on one key message.
5. Align Your Stories with the Buyer Journey
We talk a lot about the buyer journey here at StoryTeller. We believe that understanding what your customers steps are from discovery to research to final sale is essential, but companies don't often think about how to align stories with the buyer journey.
Imagine you are looking to buy a product for your company, you are looking through the website and see lots of information about pricing, specs, ease of use, etc. However, you are left wondering: "That's all great, but I wonder how real companies are using this for their business?"
And just like that, you scroll down and find a video titled "See How Acme Company Uses This Product to Save Money." Not only is this story going to answer a lot of questions and negate pushback, but it shows that you understand what pain points and questions your customer has.
6. Skip the Promotion, Appeal to Emotions
As marketers, we excel at promotion, but we often miss on opportunities to appeal to emotions. We recently worked with Catholic Charities to create an awareness campaign for their need to build a new shelter. Promoting the need for a new shelter is easy, we can send emails, host fundraisers, plan galas, send fliers, schedule social posts until we are blue in the face. Those things won't help donors see the people behind the need.
We helped Catholic Charities create a series of three stories that paint a comprehensive picture and reinforces that anybody can fall into the pitfalls of poverty. If you want to watch all three of the videos, check out this recent blog post.
Storytelling is an important part of being human, we love to share our experiences, share our pains, joys, loves, losses. We love to feel the emotions of others around us, to laugh and cry with the people around us. When we as marketers allow ourselves a chance to step back from all the promotion, tactics and statements, we can start harnessing the power of digital storytelling to connect with our customers and prospects on a deeper level.