The Art of Storytelling and How to Use it In Marketing
Marketers need to master the art of storytelling in order to make the most of their ad campaigns. I’m breaking down how to use classic tales to brand build.
I woke up this morning ready to write. I threw on a pair of shorts (okay so they were pajamas) and made myself some much-needed coffee.
As I noshed on my apple-buttered toast and pulled up the topic I had decided on for the day, I realized my brain felt fuzzy. But the topic on my screen was going to be a breeze: The Art of Storytelling. “Let’s get cracking,” I told myself.
As I put together my outline, read a few other blogs to get my brain juicing, and pulled a few quotes, my brain just wouldn’t produce actual words. It hit a curb and fell flat on its face.
I tried various excuses. “This topic is too meta, I need to find a different one.” “I didn’t get my coffee fix.”
Yet, the root of the problem lay in the fact I wasn’t actually taking my own advice: Tell a story.
1. The Art of Storytelling: Personal Storytelling
If your story is good enough, it flows. If it connects, you will find yourself in the naturally right place to create a polished article with real marketing potential.
In fact, I can back my statement up with science.
Say you read, “Jane threw the ball.” The part of your brain responsible for making your arm throw balls lights up like a Christmas parade.
But what does this have to do with marketing? I just want to grow my business!
Again, let’s look at science. A survey conducted by the Nielson Group found that consumers connect better to a product or business when the recommendations and reviews are personal. People crave that connection that impersonal TV and print media sources can’t give them.
What better way to connect with your audience than with a personal story?
As you might have noticed with my story above, people understand each other through common experiences.
Dr. Oatley concluded in his study that “[Narrative storytelling] is a particularly useful simulation because … Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories, and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”
You probably understand what it’s like to have “fuzzy brain” right when you wake up in the morning. Breakfast is a common experience among most humans. Even making excuses for why you feel incapable at any given moment is fairly common.
Your experience is more common and more relatable than you think. You’re probably reading this because you’re at a dead end and need a way out.
This is normal. And really, it’s so normal, it’s become an Archetype of modern storytelling.
2. The Art of Storytelling: Archetypes and You
First, let’s talk about what an Archetype is. If you think back to your high school English classes, you might barely remember something about this. Your teacher probably made you look at the archetypes of Romeo and Juliet and the star-crossed lover, or something classical.
Essentially, Archetype is the use of a common plot or theme we can relate to on a collective, subconscious level.
They can be used ironically like the themes of marriage and courtship in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or they can be fairly straightforward and literal like the theme of Good vs. Evil in Star Wars.
Now let’s bring a few examples to light and see how you can use them to relate to your audience.
- Insurmountable Odds:
How did you come to a dead end and start looking for an answer to your blogging woes? It might seem you’ve hit a wall you can’t climb. Time isn’t on your side and the clock is ticking. This all seems quite impossible.
See how you could quickly tell a story about a dire situation? Add in your own details, and you’re off and running telling your audience about that time things seemed impossible.
- Triumph Over Evil:
This is probably the most common theme in literature. Even the most basic cartoons for children tend to use this theme. We all have our adversaries. But they don’t always come cloaked in black and riding a skeleton horse.
The adversary may be time, or some overarching political evil with no face. Or even just your very own self.
- The Quest:
Sometimes this one is called The Hero’s Journey. And it always begins with some sort of instruction or goal or task to be completed and doesn’t end until the Hero accomplishes the main objective.
The Hero may not even come back from his journey.
Use this archetype when you accomplished something you set out to do, and you want your readers to do the same.
- There and Back Again:
If you’ve read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, then you know exactly what this Archetype is. It’s a tale of some adventurer who gets swept along by circumstance. He takes a trip and may not even be the hero of the story, but he learned something along the way and lives to tell the tale.
Roadtrip tales follow this Archetype quite often. Bill Bryson uses this Archetype in his famous book “A Walk in the Woods” about his experience hiking the Appalachian Trail and what he learned along the way.
Many real life experiences mirror literary Archetypes. Take a look at the above Archetypes, pick one that fits with the marketing approach you want to go with, think of a story in your life that fills that archetype, and run with it.
Conclusion: It’s Time to Tell Your Story
So, you’ve decided it’s worthwhile to keep going. You have plenty of life experiences to share, and suddenly the road to telling the story of your brand is paved with stories about you.
Now all you have to do is implement what you just read and watch your readers connect to your brand better than they ever have before.
If you need a little more help implementing stories in your marketing strategy, check out this free tool to get you started.