I took a little break to spend time with family and work on a few projects, but I missed being part of the Level343 team, so I’m back!
As I do every year, I spent Christmas with my family in Toronto. Last year I complained that we didn’t have much snow. We made up for it this year! I loved the snow, I went for walks in the snow, took pictures and even got out there to help my Dad shovel (he has a snow blower but I insisted we shovel like we used to when I was younger!).
I was captivated by the snowflakes twirling through the air and felt like I was transported back to my youth. Then out of nowhere, the ice storm hit us.
I wasn’t prepared for such beautiful destruction.
A layer of ice coated everything and everything sparkled. It was beautiful – almost magical. The sun reflected off the ice. If you were silent, you could hear the crackling of the ice on the trees. Amazing.
Then I got in the car and as we drove along, I noticed all the destruction. Trees were down all over the place. Trees I had watched grow, as I grew up were now destroyed.
So many people were without power and it was right before Christmas.
Such destruction caused by that beautiful ice. Because my brain isn’t ever really turned off, I started to think there must be a marketing lesson in this somewhere.
I pondered it for a while, determined to come up with a connection because I really just wanted to write about the ice storm and share a couple pics.
Suddenly it hit me! Storytelling is a great way to get a message across. It paints a vivid picture that people can connect to. It also personalizes you and allows people to know the person behind the Brand.
So I decided to start my post about storytelling – with a story! Pretty clever, eh?
Now in most cases, the story would illustrate an outcome of using the product or service that you were promoting. Mine doesn’t follow the rules of storytelling for marketing, but that’s OK. My goal here is to teach you something and not to sell, so I don’t have to follow the rules.
Stories are compelling, they draw people in and they invite the reader to use their imagination. That is way more engaging than just spitting facts out. It causes the reader to be active and participate. You will always get a better response when your reader is engaged.
Stories can also evoke emotions. If you hit the right tone and evoke the right feelings, you are also more likely to get the outcome you want (the sale, the lead or whatever your goal is for that piece).
Storytelling allows you to bypass some of the cynicism that readers often have for marketing messages. Instead you just tape into their desire to be entertained and they are distracted by the story and are more likely to believe the marketing message hidden in there.
As powerful as storytelling is, it can also go wrong if you don’t get it right.
You want the story to be clearly and obviously connected and you want it to be very clear what the reader is supposed to do after they read the story.
If you are writing just to entertain, that’s cool. However if you have a goal, your story needs to support that goal. It needs to be relevant and people have to clearly see the parallel between the story and them or the story and the action you want them to take.
If you have to work too hard to tie it all together and explain it, then you probably don’t have it quite right and it needs a little more work or maybe a new story.
A few other things to remember….
This isn’t a bedtime story, you don’t want your writers to fall asleep. Make sure you keep it interesting and make sure it actually IS a story. Set the background, introduce the characters, explain the conflict or main event, build anticipation and tie it all together with a solid ending that has a resolution.
Avoid too much detail and going off on tangents or rants.
Like most copywriting, don’t make it too long or too short. It’s gotta be just right. You need enough to inspire emotions but not so much that you drown the reader in detail. Learn what is important and what is just filler and cut what you can. Determine what is filler by asking yourself:
“Does this contribute to the message? Does this help me achieve my goal?”
If the answer is yes, keep it in there. But if the answer is no, it has to go!
Another good tip: Keep it real! Use real situations and real results. People will respond to authenticity.
Maybe in the past you could sit down and list some benefits of your product or service and be all set. Not so much anymore. These days with so much competing for the attention of your audience, you need a message that is strong and one that is memorable.
Think about the lines you remember from movies – sometimes you remember a line because it’s just so funny or shocking that you couldn’t forget it. But often you remember lines because you remember the story and something about that line resonated with you. You want your story to do the same.
Consider what tense you write in. To create something people may connect with in the now, write in present tense. For a more true-sounding story, write in the past tense.
It make take some playing around before you are able to craft a story that works. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the process.
I’ll end with what I feel is the most important tip: know your audience and make sure they can see themselves in your story.