© Digital Storyteller 2020
© Digital Storyteller 2020
Who can resist a good story? Character development and relationships, drama, adventure, and suspense all contribute to a reader’s desire to have a vested interest in a story. In fact, it’s a scientific reality that stories light up the human brain in a unique way that draws us in and mirrors the neurological activity of the storyteller. We are not just sociologically wired for story, it’s neurological as well.
In the world of marketing, isn’t creating connections the very thing we aim to do? The high-level goal of marketing is to draw your audience in and hold their attention long enough to share your product or service. This is significantly easier to do when their brain is already responding to the communication style that you’re using.
Beyond the scientific positives of storytelling, there are a variety of additional advantages. For example, effective storytelling helps your brand attract the RIGHT audience. In the case of brand storytelling, you can think of your audience as the main character of your story. How does your product or service help them overcome the hurdles and challenges that they’re facing to reach their goals?
In addition to attracting the right clients. brand storytelling also helps support customer retention. Once a prospect becomes a customer, their journey continues. The relationship continues to develop as you continue writing their story with them.
Given these clear benefits of brand storytelling, it’s interesting to see that this doesn’t always come across as marketers would like it to. A study found that although 92% of marketers believe most or all of the content they create resonates as authentic with consumers, 51% of consumers say less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world” – Robert McKee
So how do we as marketers utilize the power of storytelling in a way that is understood by our consumers? Here are some tips to take your brand storytelling beyond the basics.
All too often when we ask clients “what do you do?” we’re met with a rehearsed elevator pitch that details the full-service offering menu of the company. But when you’re getting started preparing to write your story, you’re best off starting in its simplest form.
Think about the Harry Potter series. What are the books about? Well, they’re about a boy that finds out he’s a wizard and he goes to a magical school and makes new friends and over the course of his years in school he attempts to defeat a dark evil wizard.
But what did J.K. Rowling start with before all of that? In the beginning, all she knew was that she was going to write a story about a wizard. That was all.
Sometimes the hardest thing about talking about your brand is removing all of the details that surround it. But when you really want to get down into the weeds and talk about your brand from the most basic level, this is where you have to start.
The benefit of starting from the ground up is that it focuses on the why instead of the ‘what’. The ‘what’ can come later. Start, as Simon Sinek so aptly states, with the why. Doing so helps get down to the basic level of what problem your brand solves.
One of the most important steps to accomplish before jumping into a full marketing plan is to identify who you’re talking to. Identifying your audience is the difference between trying to sell your juicy cheeseburgers to a team of hungry football players or a group of organic vegans.
We find that one of the best ways to identify your target audience is to develop a character. Think of a real person or make one up that you think would buy your product or service. Give them a name, an occupation, hobbies, interests, goals, and identify their daily challenges.
Take this example: Erin is the CEO of a small startup company. She’s been growing her company for the past year and has grown significantly both in team size and number of clients. She’s been handling all of the payroll, interviewing, onboarding, and other HR duties on her own but with her CEO duties ramping up, she doesn’t have much time for these tasks anymore.
Being a small business, Erin’s company doesn’t have the need for a full in-house HR team, but she knows she needs something.
Erin sounds like an ideal client for an outsourced HR company. A company like this would benefit from an outsourced partner because they don’t have the money or the need for something much more. By identifying who Erin is, what her company structure is, and what her needs are, we’ve identified a perfect client for an HR company. Now all they have to do is get out there and find the Erins of the world.
While it might sound challenging to think about searching the world to find the “Erin’s” of the world, think about how much more difficult it would be if you didn’t even know who you were searching for. Imagine Where is Waldo without knowing what Waldo looks like … sounds d*mn near impossible.
Brand voice is critical to determine how you speak to your “hero,” as identified above. Think of it this way: you’d probably talk to your grandmother a little bit differently than your boss, right? Same works for how different brands speak.
At Digital Storyteller, we identify brand voice by uncovering your brand archetype.
The 12 archetypes we reference in our Brand Storytelling process originate from archetypes as old as Greek tragedy and reinforced by Freud and Jung. At Digital Storyteller, we begin each of our client partnerships with our Brand Storytelling session. In this meeting, we identify the basic goals and motivations of our clients’ businesses and relay them back to the 12 archetypes.
We believe that each brand is a combination of two archetypes. One dominant archetype represents 90% of your brand, while the second is a highlight, 10% addition that makes your brand unique. For example, Digital Storyteller is 90% sage, sharing knowledge (we like to refer to it as “the secret sauce”) and 10% is jester, which aims to bring joy and laughter (if you’re not sure where this comes in … check out some of our latest Instagram posts).
Once you’ve identified your brand archetype, you’re on your way to speaking to your audience in a consistent way that they relate to. It’s important to note that your brand archetype might not always be exactly what you want or what you think it *should* be. Think about your archetype in a way that relates to who you’re talking to, what they need, and what they’re going to understand.
So what’s your brand’s archetype? Check out all 12 archetypes below!
Once you’ve determined what your business does in its simplest form and therefore who it serves, it’s important to do your due diligence and identify what other brands already exist to serve this unique market.
Let’s rewind back to the example with Erin. Her company is in need of an outsourced HR team. How many other outsourced HR teams already exist in the market? Identifying competitors can help determine what your unique business attributes are and how your brand is diversified.
Identifying the key differentiators that set your brand apart from competitors is key to developing a competitive marketing strategy. Playing to your strengths and amplifying your unique offerings will be what makes consumers choose your brand over a competitor’s.
Doing competitive research can also help you gauge the saturation of the market. Entering an already saturated market isn’t impossible but it may be significantly more challenging to gain a competitive market share. That being said, entering a market with a significant competitive advantage such as a unique differentiator will help you penetrate the market.
Overall, brand storytelling is a great way to connect with your audience in an authentic way. While it’s often one of the most effective ways to communicate with your audience, it can be challenging to do so effectively.
These 4 steps are a core starting point for you to establish as you begin to develop your customer’s journey.
At Digital Storyteller we start all of our partnerships with a Brand Storytelling Session to answer these questions and more. We believe that we can’t accurately represent your brand until we truly understand who you are, who your audience is, and what you’re aiming to achieve. Our Brand Storytelling Sessions help answer just that.
For more information or to schedule a Brand Storytelling Session, contact us today! We’re so confident in our ability to surprise and delight you that our initial session and deliverable are free. What do you have to lose? Give us a call!
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