Who Are You?
Using Storytelling in Marketing to Capture Attention
It’s not enough anymore to just advertise facts; you have to tell a story.
In the past, marketing was simple – print ads, press releases, and price discounts were all you needed to capture attention.
But our methods for communication have changed (think search engines and social media) and how we communicate to our audience has evolved as well.
Today, marketing is more personal than it ever was – you need to convey personality to engage people. For large organizations, this means telling the story behind their corporate culture and historical roots, or maybe, how they overcame adversity to solve problems and the lessons they learned along the way.
It’s similar for individuals and small businesses. Are you an author trying to market your books? Then start marketing yourself. Every good story has characters and you are the character of your story. Who are you? Why did you write your book? What adversities have you faced?
To be successful, marketing must be emotional. It must be personal, individual and real. If you really want to catch people’s attention, you have to reveal who you are. And remember, authenticity creates trust, so make sure that you are always genuine and transparent.
Looking for an example of storytelling in marketing? Here’s an article I wrote about how Dreamers got its name.
Every good story has a plot.
You can’t just convey boring everyday mundaneness and expect people to stay interested. What’s your journey? What obstacles have you faced? Tell them about the half-finished book that sat in your desk drawer for years; or about the story that percolated in your brain that you never had time to write until you quit your corporate job; or how your book was rejected over and over again until one day someone saw its worth.
It sounds simple – even cliché, until you add YOUR name to it, YOUR details. Human challenges are universal and often repetitive, but we never tire of hearing them. We are one large tribe and a heartfelt life story rarely fails to move people.
1. Catch attention in the first paragraph.
2. Use strong action verbs and avoid weak “to be” verbs.
3. Limit your use of adjectives and adverbs.
4. Focus on character(s) with human qualities.
5. You need a plot; think journey, adversity or challenge.
6. Offer a clear solution or conclusion and a lesson or moral.
7. Show, don’t tell.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind about storytelling in marketing…
- Be clear, be simple, and be visual:
State your message as simply as possible removing any redundancies and repetition. Remember that powerful story lines are rarely complicated. A trick is to think about how you would tell your story if you were telling it to a 10 year old – be mindful of length, of the energy your story conveys, and remember the visuals. Visual appeal is essential!
- Be accurate, be authentic:
Don’t get caught up in fancy language and too much embellishment. Make sure you have something of substance to say and say it accurately. People will recognize in-authenticity. Promoting yourself is challenging but people want to know the REAL you. If it feels forced and you find yourself filling your writing with adverbs and adjectives, stop. Don’t brag – it’s a fine line, but do your best to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You can avoid sounding braggy by being grateful, funny, and by conveying a sense of awe in yourself and what you’ve accomplished.
- Be passionate:
In order to write a compelling story, you have to answer the “why” of it. Why is this important to you? Why did you do it? And, why should your audience care? Don’t focus so much on the what and how. It’s the why that makes it a story worth telling.
*This article was published on July 28, 2018.
About the Author – Kat McNichol
Kat McNichol is the Editor-in-Chief of Dreamers Creative Writing and the Co-Editor for the Journal of Integrated Studies. She is also a Director of Marketing-Communications in Waterloo and has spent the past 15 years writing marketing copy for the high-tech industry. She holds a B.A. in English Literature, and an MAIS in Writing and New Media, and Literary Studies, and she is working on a PhD in Career Writing at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands.
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