Why Interactive Storytelling is the Future of Marketing
Content marketing is more than storytelling – it’s also interactive. This is the future of marketing, and you need these tips in order to be ready to sell.
Once upon a time, all it took to tell a good story was your marketing materials and a good “hook.” But in today’s interactive marketplace, the audience demands more. They demand interactive storytelling.
In short, it’s no longer enough to tell your story. You need to involve your customers and engage them to become a part of it.
You can do more than just handing them some text to read. You can use sights, sounds and even touch with our new technology.
Why Stories Matter to Your Business
Stories are powerful. They can make the difference between two similar products on a shelf or services for sale.
For decades, traditional advertisers used stories to promote their products.
Ads promoted the idea that you could be successful and respected by buying a certain car. Other ads asked you to picture yourself as “hip” and “edgy” by drinking their soda.
Many examples of this type of one-way storytelling exist.
Stories pull people in and stimulate the imagination. In some cases, they can build a sense of familiarity or kinship with a business.
An old Native American proverb says, “Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
In other words, don’t bore people with facts and figures about your business. Use a story that inspires them to action, and that “sticks.”
Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, explains how stories are important:
- Stories can change how people perceive you.
- Stories can be powerful tools for harnessing the attention of your audience.
- Stories are persuasive. They elicit a response.
Taking the Next Step – Interactive Storytelling
You want the audience to not only digest your story. You want them to picture themselves in it.
A mental image of themselves using your product or service motivates them to buy it.
Your options for telling your story are many. Examples include images, videos, games, quizzes, and contests.
At the same time, so many options can be overwhelming. Where do you start?
Start with the story. Just as we all learned in elementary school English class, a good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Who’s the hero of your story? What’s the conflict? What’s the resolution?
And how does it involve your customer? How does it interact with them? What action does it inspire?
A good story is something that people want to share. It should evolve with each telling.
Do You Throw #LikeaGirl?
There are many wonderful examples of compelling interactive storytelling. P&G’s “Like a Girl” ad from 2014. The ad features interviews with a variety of people about the phrase “like a girl.”
In their estimation, “like a girl” had a negative connotation.
Then several young girls were asked the same question. The young women displayed confidence and pride in themselves.
The ad concluded with the hashtag #likeagirl. It called on the audience to express their thoughts.
The response on social media was huge. The ad received over 85,000 views on YouTube. The #likeagirl hashtag exploded on social media.
It didn’t take much to inspire action with this story. It resonated with women worldwide with a simple emotional video.
Home for Hope – Storytelling Inspiring Action
Ikea is a company that has excelled with interactive storytelling with many marketing campaigns. Their Home for Hope campaign is a great example of the power of the interactive story.
In several cities, local Ikea stores made life-size cut-outs of actual dogs and cats. These animals were all waiting to find homes at the local shelter.
Ikea staff placed the cut-outs around the store. They put them on couches, in kitchen displays, and in bedroom models. They were displayed “as if” they were living in the home.
Customers interested in the animals learn more about them by scanning a code on the cut-outs. They could then go to the local shelter to adopt that specific dog or cat (or perhaps another!)
By placing the animals in the showcase of actual home displays and goods, Ikea told a compelling story.
The story itself was different for each person and how they saw themselves with the dog or cat
Yet the common thread was seeing that animal in their home. And of course, in their home with the furniture they purchased from Ikea.
Interactive Storytelling and Your Business
In his blog, “23 Reasons Interactive Storytelling is the Future of Marketing,” Matthew Turner delves into the benefits of this new attitude to marketing.
Interactive storytelling focuses the story on the consumer. It’s not all about you – it’s about everyone you need to engage.
Like the best stories, it continues to change as it’s told. Once this happened because stories were passed down orally to each generation and changed over time.
Stories are now evolving because they are consumed and shared digitally. Readers can comment on your story in real time. They can engage in conversations about the meaning with you and other customers.
Stories are not only evolving digitally but they are evolving quickly.
Your customers can share stories on Facebook pages and in 140 character Tweets. They can create visual responses with Pinterest boards and on Instagram.
They can post selfies with your product or service. Can you think of a more powerful way to promote your business than having your consumers do it themselves to their circle of friends?
All they need is the hook – the spark – that your story inspires in them.
Turner points out that the strength of interactive storytelling is “overall, it involves people.” You can no longer think in terms of you and them, but in “us.”
Interactive storytelling is the future of marketing because it involves bringing people together. This is a critical component to marketing in an increasingly connected social and digital world.
By bringing your customers into your story, you become authentic and “real.” In Professor Aaker’s talk, she notes that stories are a tool to achieve power. She adds that the power goes both ways. Stories allow the storyteller to listen to the feedback from the audience.
Interactive storytelling gives your audience a chance to be part of your journey. It also gives you valuable insight into their wants and needs.
Knowing your customer’s story involving your business is equally as vital as telling the story.
This sort of knowledge can only help your business to become better. In effect, your story will evolve each time you tell it.