Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Once upon a time, we were great at telling stories. What happened?

These articles have been written by the latest cohort of the Practice Makes Unperfect programme – a course that helps women find and finesse their public voices.

By Aarti Suri, Senior Customer Success Manager, Permutive

The human mind is marvellous. We remember the poignant moments in our lives, funny, sad, shocking, exciting things that happen and retain them as stories in our mind that we share with friends, families and future generations.  

We’re all taught in school that each story should have a beginning, middle and end. But the best stories are the ones that make us feel; that solve something; that bring an idea to life; that make us think in a different way and make us believe in the impossible. 

Barack Obama allowed us to believe in hope and change. Amanda Gorman, reminded us to be brave enough to be the light. Nike reminds us to “Just do it.” L’Oreal allows us to believe “we’re worth it too” . They tap into our emotional motivators, the people we want to be, the places we want to go and the lives we want to lead.

Tech brands, B2B Enterprise businesses and retail brands can all benefit from telling better stories of their products and services by building that emotional connection with their customers. A Harvard Business Review study by Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leeman found that when a brand “implemented an emotional connection based strategy –  across the entire customer experience — including how it communicates with customers and attracts prospects a retailer was able to increase customer advocacy from 24-30% which resulted in a 15% increase in the number of active customers and more than a 50% increase in the rate of same store sales growth.” 

So why are we not leading with emotional connection in our stories if businesses will benefit? We see, on average 5000 ads a day, I rarely can remember one. 

We’re surrounded by proof that storytelling works. Let’s look at the growth of Influencer Marketing, which is set to grow into a  $15 Billion dollar industry by 2021. Every individual we follow has their own story; their own highs and lows and hurdles they have to overcome, which makes us root for them. 

TikTok was the top grossing app on the iOS App Store globally in Q2 2020 , in a year where we were all isolated, we learned dances, DIY, how to cook, the amazingness that is an airfryer. These stories on social media allowed us to stay connected to the world around us and brands benefitted from this too – “Kantar awarded TikTok with its highest global ad equity rank – a measurement of consumer attitudes toward advertising in different environments based on 11 variables”

There is a recipe to storytelling from a product point of view, and here are some of the ingredients: what is happening in the world right now that makes this product or service stand out more? How does my audience think? What pain or challenges do they have? Does my product or service solve these pains? How? What is the impact? and why now? And If they don’t buy this product what will they miss out on? 

Bring people in your world, show them a vision of what life could be with your product or service, how their lives are improved and made better and leave them wanting more. 

Our world is ever evolving, so the story of your brand you once had might not make sense next week or 6 months later, evolve. Listen to the stories of your consumers, or who you think your consumers should be, your competitors, your colleagues and people with diverse backgrounds. 

AirBnb did just that, they listened and created a compelling brand story. AirBnb were struggling to communicate this ‘sense of community’ that they had created in their brand messaging. They ran 500 interviews with people all over the world with both hosts and guests and discovered that “Belonging” was the word that kept coming up time and time again. This formulated their messaging “Belong Anywhere”. They even took this one step further and created ‘Belo’ a symbol that represented belonging and the AirBnb community. AirBnb acknowledges that their hosts and guests are the entities that keep this brand alive and so it is integral to share those stories. Their YouTube channel is filled with stories of belonging and full of emotion and the beautiful impact that opening up your home can have on the hosts and guests alike.

Listening is a key part of storytelling so you can adapt, evolve and share the most impactful stories. We can all learn to be better storytellers, we live in a world where we have limited time to grab user attention, a small MPU on the side of a page, a 15s PreRoll ad, scrolling through a TikTok feed. Make the most of those seconds by connecting with consumers with emotion in your story, it is not a weakness it’s your superpower.