Legendary marketing campaigns create miracles for businesses by connecting with the hearts and minds of their targeted audience. Consumers aren’t swayed to brand loyalty through corporate messaging and statistics; it’s always a story that creates a connection. As Philip Pullman said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
While marketing has evolved to integrate elements like social media and various content methodologies, storytelling has remained timeless and ever-powerful. It’s irrelevant if your company has a years-long legacy or a just-born feel. There’s a story behind who you are, why you were unearthed, and what mission you’re here to accomplish. In those details lies a million different ways to connect with your audience.
The Integrated Elements of Storytelling and Content Marketing
Before you determine what and how to tell your story through marketing, there are a few core fundamentals you’ll want to encapsulate into your campaigns. Keep in mind these key points as you craft your strategy:
- Be true to your company’s history and past.
- Write down your core company goals, if you don’t already have them solidified. This can be in the form of a mission statement, or just a bulleted list of what’s important, aside from generating revenues.
- Similarly, clearly articulate your company’s values and ethics, and ensure your marketing language and materials consistently reflect these.
- Finally, know your audience. Really know your audience. Be crystal clear about exactly who you are marketing to, and their specific wants and needs.
Once you get to know all of the above intimately, it’s story time.
5 Genius Ways to Market Your Company’s Story
Here are five creative methods that will help you best engage with your audience.
1. Recount your humble beginnings. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak never hid the fact that they started Apple from the confines of a garage. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, tells a similar rags-to-riches story in much of his marketing. People love an underdog story, so if this is intrinsic in the formation of your business, weave this fascinating tale into your marketing language.
2. Develop a character or spokesperson. Would you really care about supplemental insurance if the Aflac duck didn’t quack the particulars to you? According to a company press release, the duck has expanded brand recognition from 13% to 90% of consumers. It’s tricky business creating a memorable and relatable character, but if creativity is a strong suit for your team, character recognition is absolutely golden.
It’s essential, however, that your brand adopt the tone and presence of that character throughout all communications. Community Manager Deidre Woollard reminds us that once we have a story, we need to stick to it:
Once you’re crafted your brand persona, it’s important to continue to deliver on that promise. Even when you are replying to people you are doing this not just as a representative of the brand, but as the brand itself with all its traits. Customer service disasters can happen when the people behind the scenes forget that they aren’t writing as themselves but as the brand.
3. Make it personal. People don’t love buying from corporate entities, they love buying from other people. When a brand is daring enough to share honest accounts of who they really are, it can strongly resonate. Brands like IBM that share the story of their employees, and the surrounding culture, make what they do feel intrinsically human. By sharing these insights, you give credibility to your ethics and values, through the lens of the people who represent your company.
4. Stay honest and consistent. Forbes contributor Susan Gunelius wisely reminds us that even though we are generating stories about our brand, it’s important to do so with an element of truth, and a strict adherence to consistency. She writes:
[E]ven brand stories must adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. If your brand stories are inconsistent, they’ll confuse consumers who will turn away from the brand in search of another that meets their expectations for it in every interaction. Be creative but don’t stray too far from your brand promise. Confusion is the number one brand killer.
5. Don’t be afraid to express dedication to your values. Ben & Jerry’s embraces every last tip on this list, with heavy emphasis on values. They never hid their adherence to environmental and liberal ethics, and it helped them sell a heck of a lot of ice cream. If your company strongly stands for certain ideals, share those; your customers will be all the more loyal. Make sure these are truly indoctrinated into your culture, however; if your brand doesn’t reflect what you say you value, it can be a marketing suicide.
Remember that brand storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be engaging and unique. Find what makes your brand special, and craft your marketing campaigns around these elements. Whether you create a character or just adopt a policy of bare honesty, your willingness to be something other than a sterile corporate entity will greatly elevate your marketing efforts.
Image by Jill Clardy.