Everyone loves a good story, especially one that begins with “once upon a time " and ends with “happily ever after.” We remember these tales fondly because they tug at our heartstrings, while the twists and turns throughout the story make us feel a range of emotions like no other.
But is there any way you can present the magic of storytelling in our marketing campaigns? 🤔
Great brands like Nike and Apple weave storytelling in their marketing communication and have won the hearts of millions while boosting their sales by millions, too!
Whether you’re building a B2B or a B2C business, storytelling can help you step up your marketing game in unimaginable ways.
In this blog, we explore the concept of storytelling in marketing and share five stellar examples that prove how storytelling can take marketing to the next level.
What is Storytelling in Marketing?
Storytelling in marketing is the process of building a narrative, character, and plot to convey a message that indirectly markets your product or services.
Today, B2B marketing typically involves facts and figures. Your job is to spin a story out of this.
The most important thing to remember is that people connect with stories, empathize with characters, and react to compelling narratives, whether they’re little kids or C-suite executives.
Here’s an example of how Dove’s real beauty campaign in 2004 empowered women to believe that everyone is beautiful and that your physical appearance should be a source of confidence.
The Real Beauty campaign won two ad awards, and Dove’s sales boosted from $2.5 billion to $4 billion in its opening campaign year.
The Components of an Effective Brand Story
The most common myth amongst marketers is that you must have an “interesting product” to tell an impactful story.
But the reality is this: the nature of your business or the type of products bears no relevance when creating your brand story.
Whether or not you can trigger a positive response from your audience depends entirely on how you portray your story to your target audience.
Keep in mind that composing a brand story is much more than simply presenting a basic "about us" page on the website.
There are 2 reasons why tech companies struggle to use storytelling in their marketing efforts:
- They don’t have a unique point of view
- They heavily focus on what the product can do instead of how the users can benefit from using the product
If you want to overcome those hurdles, here’s a list of points to remember when creating your brand story:
- Keep Your Buyer at the Center of the Story
“Every story has a hero and a villain; but that hero is the prospect, not your product.” - Jake Link, Director of Brand and Content at Goodtime.io
You must take your buyers on a journey that makes them feel a range of emotions from “Do I really need this product?” to “I must have this product now!” and you can only do this when you put the buyer at the center of the story.
Huggies’ Canadian branch does a great job by launching a campaign that showed mums using Huggies as heroes while also playing on their name with the word “hugs.”
They conducted a survey and highlighted the importance of skin-to-skin bonding, which boosts an infant’s immune system and stabilizes their vitals. They used the data and created awareness about the same by posting aw-so-cute videos that showed parents as hugging heroes!
- Make it relatable
The universal truth is that humans relate to humans. If you want to build relatability as a brand, you need complete clarity on their pain points.
Therefore, ensure you spend time researching your ideal buyer persona - their likes, dislikes, motivations, aspirations, and problems so you can condense all the relevant attributes into your story’s protagonist and create one your target audience instantly connects with.
Let’s look at how Zendesk pulls it off. Zendesk is a customer support platform used by sales agents and customer support teams.
They launched a video called “Sh*t support agents say,” where they target the relatable emotions of their end users: customer support agents
The video garnered a whopping 155K views, with support agents in the comments sharing their opinions in the comments section.
Here’s another example of using relatable content in marketing:
The post by American Eagle’s social media team garnered over 2 million views on Facebook.
By taking a stance and weaving it into your brand messaging, you’ll create a lasting impact and urge your audience to care truly.
- Make it Memorable
Would you buy a bicycle if you saw the line “Revolutionize your cycling experience with a hi-tech peddling mechanism”? Of course not! 👀
Buyers don’t want the jargon; they want the solution to their problem. Similarly, buyers cannot relate to complex narratives with a long list of features. Storytelling in marketing doesn’t mean forced random plug-ins in the middle of the plot.
“People don’t remember a number; they remember the story”
- Andrew Hatfield, Founder and Growth Strategist at Deepstar Strategic
Nike’s “Just Do it” campaign stays in our minds because it’s simple and has a catchy tagline. Would it have the same impact if they went on and on about the type of fabric they use in their shoes or how they can “supercharge” the way you run?
- Make it Interactive
Online, especially on SaaS websites, people are no longer wooed by static websites, however nice the website looks. In a sea of competitor websites that your prospects are currently browsing through, why not stand out? Make your prospects interact with your product right when they’re browsing. This conveys to them that you mean business.
Here’s where interactive product demos come into play. A key aspect of product-led storytelling is showcasing how your product delivers value to your users and how all their troubles will disappear when they invest in your product. Rather than telling what you do, show them.
Here’s an example of how Gong has set up an interactive product tour on its website to allow users to explore the platform before making the purchase.
Top 3 Storytelling Techniques
There are many storytelling techniques that writers use to charm the reader and engage with them. Let’s look at the top 3 storytelling techniques you can start using:
Pixar’s Storytelling Formula
Pixar movies have made a lasting impression in our minds and heart, all because of:
➡️Show, Not Tell ⬅️
For example, In the movie Up, there was no dialogue in the first ten minutes of the film. It was a montage of images backed by music. The pictures were memories of Carl Fredricksen and his wife, Ellie’s, life together - not a word was said, but many emotions were felt!
Marketers can recreate the magic by using interactive demos, attractive visuals, colors, texts, and images.
Here’s a glimpse of Pixar’s storytelling framework and how their movies generate billions:
If you want to use the same formula in SaaS marketing, here are the steps you can follow:
- Create a character that the audience cares about - like a brand mascot.
- Show the audience what the world regularly looks like - through social media posts.
- An unexpected problem throws the main character’s world out of balance - Highlighting pain points through TOFU, MOFU and BOFU blogs, interactive demos.
- The main character begins the pursuit of their goal to achieve a better future. But obstacles and conflicts stand in their way. - Problem solving webinars, and demos on landing pages of main product features.
- Your main character achieves their significant milestone. - Use customer success stories and case studies.
A great story like this stays in the minds of your audience and also creates a memorable buying experience when they finally decide to invest in your solution.
The BAB (Before-After-Bridge) technique is one of the most famous methods used by copywriters and is used everywhere, from landing pages to long-form content. It guides readers by starting with a sticky situation and telling them how to use a product to reach a positive outcome.
Set the stage for a problem your target audience will likely experience — ideally, a problem your company solves. Display a world where that problem didn’t exist and explain how to get there by presenting the solution (i.e., your product or service).
Here’s an example of how Fi Money would use this style of copywriting in their ad campaign:
Alt text: A screenshot of Fi’s LinkedIn Ad
There are many Ps in marketing, but for storytelling, you only need to remember these 4:
Promise - Grab your audience’s attention by making a promise and explaining what is in for customers and keeping it real throughout the text. This can be done when writing headlines for all your TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content. In B2B SaaS marketing, we call it, “Hooks.” In journalism, we call it, “Ledes.”
Picture - The next stage requires turning your creative copywriting skills on and painting a picture with descriptive and engaging words. Inspire people to walk in the shoes of others who appreciate the benefits you provide. Use visual storytelling when writing copies for your product pages, your content, on demos and your email campaigns.
Proof - only with mastery of writing, you won't get far! Proof-data storytelling is the missing detail that will turn your text into excellent material. Only this way do you achieve authority and trustworthiness. Use stats and infographics, cite other reliable sources, etc. And use your customer stories to highlight what your product or service can achieve for prospects.
Push - Every persuasive writing keeps the goal and ending in mind. Again, you've produced a perfect copy and ticked all the boxes. But if you forget your call to action, all your efforts will be wasted. Add CTAs to any marketing campaign you put out unless it’s not relevant to do so.
Here’s an example of Slack using all four Ps of Storytelling in a product tour they’ve included within their landing page:
5 Examples of Storytelling in Marketing
Now that you know how you can use storytelling in marketing, let’s have a look at some examples of successful marketing ideas powered by storytelling:
Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” has probably been one of the most successful marketing campaigns, instantly becoming a globally popular strategy after its launch. The campaign aimed at bonding with the consumers at a personalized level, where the company labels were replaced with the most common names from around a specific country where the bottles were distributed.
While the campaign became a massive hit, they introduced more customizations to the label, going from generic relationships, i.e., Share a Coke with Friend, BFF, Mom, etc., thereby creating a more personalized experience and connecting with each other using the brand’s taglines.
Clari presents revenue leaks as a cautionary tale throughout their website and even includes a revenue leak assessment so you know what your world looks like after you adopt their platform.
The copy uses language that relates to the ICP, and their interactive demo also highlights the importance of hitting the numbers and reducing revenue risk.
Clari uses the oldest formula of storytelling of showing and not telling with their, “This is where you’re losing money” and “This is how we can help you.”
Humor is one of the best aspects of storytelling because nothing grabs attention like a funny video. Ikea Singapore aces this by launching a video campaign that stars a ‘Shelf Help Guru,’ who takes IKEA customers on a journey of ‘shelf discovery’ to improve their private lives in their most private areas: their bedrooms and bathrooms.
The brands with the best and most authentic tone of voice, in addition to the most humorous brands, are the ones that deeply know who they are and what makes them unique. These brands also profoundly understand how their customers perceive them, plus their needs, wants, and wishes. The ‘secret sauce’ comes from translating these insights, values, and critical differentiators into a clever communications style that banishes boring in favor of personality.
Every marketer knows Mailchimp and its immense power to simplify email marketing. While they create great content through blogs, podcasts, and case studies - they do it with a twist.
All the stories include customers who have achieved excellent results using Mailchimp. This builds curiosity about the product and drives prospects to check out the platform.
Another way they created a lasting impression in users’ minds is by releasing a video with multiple plays on its name. Given their unique name, there can be a lot of variations like “Mailshrimp.”
The video is a humorous take on product storytelling and appeals to the human side instead of simply selling the product.
All SaaS landing pages have the same jargon like “revolutionize”, “revamp” or “accelerate”. But Docsend keeps it different. They explain their product by introducing a character named “Jessica,” who likes to keep her business documents organized.
They clearly explain how Jessica’s life improves by using Docsend and highlight each product feature and how she can use it instead of listing out the feature plainly.
Giving your audience a step-by-step breakdown of how they can best use your product means you are showing exactly how the product benefits them.
Incorporating storytelling in marketing campaigns is a win-win for brands and customers. Your audience gets one step closer to making their buying decision, and you increase your win rate while shortening your sales cycle. Prospects today don’t decide to buy based on what you’re selling but rather why you’re selling it, and storytelling helps you convey the "why" in an engaging way.
It can be in the form of videos, case studies, or interactive demos, too - and that’s where we come in.
If you want to take a “show, don’t tell” approach and wow your buyers with an interactive product demo - book a call to learn how we can help you boost conversions and close deals quickly!