By Sandra D’Souza

Take your content marketing initiatives to the next level by accompanying them with a compelling story.  A well-planned tale can win your clients’ hearts and make them come back for more.

Get started on story-telling that works

“If you build it, they will come.”

This line, from the movie Field of Dreams, has been used to describe trends that have gained widespread attention. The quote used to refer to the baseball diamond that gave people a second chance in life. Now it applies to virtually any development that improves the old way of doing things. Similarly, this can also depict the role of stories in the field of content marketing. A well-crafted narrative can lead people to interact with a certain brand of product or service. In turn, companies can reap better returns when they use stories to build up their content marketing strategy.

Essentially, the purpose of content marketing is to provide value for customers and guide them in making the purchase of a product or service that solves their need. This type of marketing puts less onus on the product or services of the company, and more on providing helpful information for people.  Through stories, you can show how your products or services offer information, or help customers resolve problems in their everyday life.

Start the process off by defining your potential customers, then brainstorm on the best possible way to create a story that would capture their attention. Infuse your narrative with the values and philosophy of your company to engage your client. Exercise honesty and transparency when crafting your tale, to earn their trust. Better yet, walk a mile in their shoes and use the language that they can understand and easily relate to.

Put a personality behind your story to foster interaction. Some companies use mascots to establish a persona behind their brand. To make financial data more attractive, investing firms in Japan turned to anime characters. They used these characters in their promotions to invite younger people to invest and become their customers. Meanwhile, the health care industry in the U.S. made mascots out of the body’s organs and hospital materials to raise awareness on health and disease prevention. Companies can also go beyond mascots and establish a real personabehind their brand. To do so, you need to extend your philosophy in all facets of your business. It also helps to include yourself and your employees in ads.

The Australian Associated Motor Insurers Limited created a personality for its company with a series of commercials starring a typical car owner who works full-time, Rhonda. The ads show the leading lady’s journey through the seaside paradise of Bali, Indonesia and her whirlwind romance with Ketut who she met during the vacation, all thanks to her car insurance savings. The ads use humour to engage the audience in a relatable albeit outlandish story that continues with Rhonda’s return to Australia, daydreaming about Ketut, only to bump into a watermelon truck. Thankfully, the reporting of the accident to the insurance company can be done in a snap.

Aside from putting a face behind your business, involving your employees in story-telling can be a win-win solution because it provides them with motivation.. You can also make your narrative more personal by sharing it from the perspective of your prospects. What are their interests? Play to their emotions, and you will engage your audience. What things do they find funny? What dreams do they hold? For instance, a video presentation made by Coca-Cola promotes the relationship of a happy nuclear family. A family that spends time together is something held dear by most.

Story-telling does not end once you’ve got a captivated audience. You should remain steadfast in the process and keep the communication lines open with your prospects. Remember that you are relating to them as a personality.  To further sustain your story, you should extend it in-storefor a hands-on experience for your clients. This will ramp up their engagement with your brand, and it can turn them into loyal advocates for you.You can even go further by putting your narrative on the mobile platform. Make it easy to digest on mobile devices by condensing your story in a six-word sentence. Use catchy words in these statements to engender excitement about your brand. Think of them as teasers that would encourage your clients to learn more about you.


Brands that have told their stories, and found success

Several companies have come to understand the significance of story-telling to ramp up content marketing. For instance, short films released by automobile maker BMW drove the engagement of customers with the brand. Thanks to these eight short films, the company experienced a 12% increase in sales. In crafting a series of short films for your company, you should ensure that you have a cohesive plot that would resonate with your brand to ensure it takes off.

Other notable companies that have made strides in the narrative landscape include Coca-Cola, La Roche-Posay, Land O’ Lakes and Whole Foods. In one way or another, they have played to the interests and emotions of the audiences to catch their attention. Land O’Lakes also espouses the idea of a traditional family to engage prospects, while Whole Foods emphasizes consumption of organic foods for healthy living.

On the other hand, Jack Daniels makes use of real bar stories from the U.S. to stir up attention for its brand. Microsoft, Apple, Nike, and LinkedIn also takes up different approaches to cater to the emotion of their audiences. Microsoft delves on the profile of its employees to put a face behind its stories. Meanwhile, Apple rolls out anecdotes on how its products helped customers in special moments. Nike inspires its audience to go for their goals, while LinkedIn shows that childhood dreams can come true in the “If you can dream it, you can accomplish it” campaign. To up the ante of their stories’ impact, Cadbury and Aldi stores extend the experience in-store, to the delight of their customers.

Several brands are finding out about the impact of story-telling on their content marketing. It only goes to show that this can be easily done. Mix in knowledge about your brand and your customers and a dash of creativity; and you’re good to go!

So what are you waiting for? Grab your notebook, sketch-book or drawing board and start drafting your story. It may just turn out to be the next viral thing on the Internet.

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