By Suzy Buglewicz, Senior Writer
News that consumers have a shorter attention span than a goldfish¹ may have you scrambling to up your game with strategies that keep customers and prospects engaged — for longer than 8.25 seconds. The inside secret to making it happen? You have to think like a storyteller.
A good story has the power to increase engagement and much more. By humanizing your brand and making it more relatable, a good story lets consumers experience your product or brand before they buy. A story can build trust, and change the way people think, feel and act. It can increase the odds that your message will be shared with others. And, ultimately, it can increase sales.
Turn Your Retail Marketing Message into a Compelling Story
So, what’s the secret to thinking like a storyteller? A successful storytelling marketing strategy is planned and purposeful, incorporating both creativity and strategy. A good story is authentic and, for retail marketers, answers the “what’s in it for me” question, which can bridge the gap between a product’s features and benefits — and the emotional reasons people buy. Below, we share our secrets and a few storytelling marketing examples to help illustrate this retail marketing strategy and help you connect with your audience, grow your brand and turn engagement into sales.
Start with an Original Story
To create memorable, persuasive stories that will keep your audience hooked, try these ideas for generating story topics:
- Consider origin or heritage stories, such as how your brand got started
- Share anecdotes about how your company worked to solve a problem
- Spin a tale about your business mission and vision (for example, see how TOMS Shoes’ founder turned his passion into a movement)
- Explain the motivation behind your latest product line or service
- Tell a story about how your brand takes care of employees
- Share your company culture, including what motivates your team
- Turn compelling company data into a narrative to make it more personal and interesting
Key Takeaway: You have unique insights into the “why” of your products and services that other retailers don’t. Leverage these differentiators to tell your own story.
Include Essential Storytelling Elements to Increase Engagement
Conflict and resolution are key storytelling elements that capture an audience’s attention, and keep them interested and wanting more. For retail marketers, the conflict should be your customer’s pain point, and the resolution should address how you solve that problem. See how WarbyParker used a simple problem/solution story to grow its brand and build trust.
In addition, storytelling in marketing should incorporate these six timeless elements:
- Make your customer or target audience the hero
- Include specific examples rather than vague terms
- Keep your stories clear and concise
- Images speak louder than words — use them throughout your story
- Use a conversational voice and tone
- Include humor, fear, or other emotions like the ones used in this video for Dove Men’s Care
Key Takeaway: It’s your story to tell, but always keep in mind that it’s not about you — every tale you tell is ultimately about your customer.
End Stories with a Relevant CTA
A good story has the power to influence and validate potential purchase decisions when it evokes the right emotion. So, think about the message you want to leave your audience with after they hear your story. What will compel them to take the next step in their buyer journey? Make sure your story includes a strong call to action (CTA) that drives your customers and prospects to take the desired action. Storytelling, customer journey and compelling CTAs are critical to modern-day content marketing efforts.
Key Takeaway: The better you know your audience and their pain points, the more likely your CTA will resonate and bring about your desired outcome.
Incorporate Storytelling Marketing Strategies into Your Content Marketing Plan
Once you’ve created your marketing stories it’s time to share them. Stories can be included in all content formats and channels: videos, websites, social media channels, even email and case studies — wherever your customers and prospects are. Blogs are an ideal format for stories since subscribers expect updated blog content on a regular basis. Consider using storytelling in other aspects of your business, as well. For example, train sales and customer service folks to tell the story of your company.
Further Reading: Mark Your Calendar with Content
Leverage Your Influencers, Brand Ambassadors and Followers
In this age of 24/7 real-time posting, following and sharing, customers are more often than not becoming the story. From promoting user testimonials to inviting brand ambassadors to share their stories through words, photographs or videos, more and more retailers are finding success by encouraging their customers to share and be a part of the story.
GoPro is a great example of elevating brand loyalty through customer generated content. Vintage clothing company ModCloth shares images provided by customers wearing the brand’s clothing. Both retailers have found a way to make their customers the story — simultaneously making customers feel special and involved with the brand, encouraging even more shares and posts about their company, and generating more positive brand exposure.
Along with customer generated content, customer shared content can help you measure the success of your storytelling marketing strategy. Watch your engagement metrics, including likes, shares, follows and comments. Listen to your audience as your stories unfold, gauging reactions so you can make adjustments as needed. Most importantly, ensure a seamless user experience by making it easy for others to engage with your stories — and share their own.
Further Reading: Retail Marketing Testing, Measurement and Optimization for Success
Rise Above the Noise with Storytelling Marketing
Stories are powerful tools for content marketers. A well told story can capture attention, lead to an action and drive sales. Once you learn to turn your marketing messaging into compelling stories, you’ll move prospects from leads to sales to loyal customers. Using these storytelling marketing tactics to create authentic stories about your brand can not only help your content stand out from a crowded playing field, but can also build brand recognition, trust and, ultimately, higher profits.
Our retail content marketing experts can take your customer engagement strategy to the next level with effective storytelling that hooks customers in and keeps them coming back for more. Check out our retail marketing services for all the ways we can increase engagement, loyalty and profits. For a complimentary one-on-one discussion, call us at 800.525.0313 or email us today.
¹ “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish,” by Kevin McSpadden, Time.com, posted May 13, 2015, https://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/, accessed April 14, 2017