What is Storytelling Marketing: Exposing Common Misconceptions

Dollar Shave Club

There seems to be a lot of misconception around storytelling marketing.

You often hear people talk about it as incorporating traditional story elements such as characters, plot, conflict, and resolution.

But what does that even mean?

Storytelling is one of the oldest artforms in the world, and as humans we have evolved to tell and hear stories for entertainment, conveying information, for inspiration or morale building, and so on.

When used in the context of marketing or brand building, it serves some important functions:

  1. It makes people invested. Simon Sinek says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Story helps convey your company’s ‘why’. Why should someone care about you or your brand? In a world where features on a product are similar across category leaders, what is often a key differentiator is story, or brand. Have people fall in love with your story, and in turn they will become loyal customers and advocates.

    This also happens on a micro level as well. A video, for instance, that tells a story will often hook people because they naturally want to see it through to the end.

  2. It helps people remember your brand. Brand recall is valuable when consumers are presented with options. Whether needing a new car or a drink at a bar, you want consumers to think of your brand first.

  3. It gives people a shorthand to communicate to the world (and their friends) as to why they love your brand, and what it means to be using your product. I wrote a whole piece about this called ‘The T-Shirt Theory of Branding‘.

Storytelling Marketing in Action

Here are some examples of brands who accel at storytelling marketing:

1. Louis Vuitton – they tell their story about a humble boy from a village in France who showed an aptitude for craftsmanship at a young age and began working as an apprentice in the box-making and packing industry.

Misconceptions about Storytelling Marketing

2. UFC – they use the Ultimate Fighter and Embedded Series to go behind the scenes showcasing the backstories and training of their fighters. The two best fighters on the planet could be fighting, but if you don’t know anything about them, you become less invested and less interested in watching. Part of the promotion of big fights is the build up, which heightens the emotions and intensity for the fans. Talent shows such as X Factor and America’s Got Talent always tell the backstory of contestants for this same reason – make you more invested.

Rose Namajunas

3. Dollar Shave Club – you all know the famous commercial. Besides it being funny, it was telling a story. Here’s a problem with traditional razors, here’s how we solve it.

Dollar Shave Club

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