Seth Godin, an American author, blogger and entrepreneur, with great success in the business and marketing sectors, shared that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”. Rather than simply capturing the attention of customers, he states products need stories, as products stories can help a brand to stand out, enabling it to connect to target consumers with appealing content.
Stories can be shaped into different forms. In the digital era where advanced technologies offer multiple sophisticated communication sources, many companies use methods including digital narrative marketing, mini-clip advertisements, data-driven storytelling and consumer-led storytelling videos.
Content marketing with storytelling stimulates emotions
The traditional marketing approach of focusing a brands’ messaging on a product’s features and functions is one that these days fails to excite customers – as many companies now offer products and services with similar features and express this through similar content marketing means. An effective way for a brand to distinguish itself in the clustered content marketing scene is through the use of stories; they act as a great communication and content creator tool for customers to intake information.
Storytelling is important as it can influence stakeholders in an emotion sense. Evoked emotion can increase holistic attitudes and cooperative and authentic feelings towards others. Renowned speaker and presentation expert David JP Phillips, details how stories can evoke a similar feeling to falling in love, in which same hormones and neurotransmitters are released inside bodies, such as dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. Therefore, when combining stories into content, marketing messages can be absorbed more easily and embed in customers’ minds.
Storytelling and its implications on brands
Stories that a company tells can contribute largely to its brand equity. Storytelling can be considered one of the most effective communication methods, one representing the characteristics and value of a brand, strengthening brand depth. It can provide a story behind a company with realistic and appealing product service descriptions, generate positive emotional impacts and cognitions, and provide interpretation for the brand, influencing both rational and emotional sides of the Customer-Based-Brand-Equity (CBBE). When utilising persona-based storytelling in marketing, techniques should take into consideration familiar archetypes and personalities of the brands’ audience. Disney is a leading example of a company who express their brand’s personality of creativity, innovation and premier entertainment through their storytelling. Disney’s persona-based storytelling was shown through its original cartoons and up to date live-action movies.
Controversial storytelling techniques
Millennial customers are often more skeptical about stories, due to wariness of being manipulated. By way of illustration, in the fragrance industry, younger consumers are now seeking authenticity rather than celebrities and overt sexiness. Additionally, with false and ‘fake news’ becoming increasingly prevalent, customers are now even more cautious, as they balance decisions between emotions and rationality.
Fake news can spread across social media rapidly, despite a lack of any source of confirmation, as it has been shown that when users surf social media, they often do so in a hedonic state. A hedonic state infers that once positive or negative emotions are triggered, users are more likely to be more sensitive, less critical and tend to react more strongly and impulsively to news stories. Hence how users can often share false and misleading stories without rationally considering its authenticity – which can have profound effects on advertising. These cases go some way to explaining why customers can be more cautious and more selective on news and stories released to avoid market manipulation. Therefore, the importance of a brand communicating authenticity alongside the features of its products cannot be underestimated.
It is fair to conclude that storytelling is an art rather than formula. There is no formula for successful storytelling or content marketing, as human beings are different individuals, whose interpretation abilities, perceptions and perspectives differ.
We can consolidate that storytelling is an effective tool in evoking emotions when marketers wish to create meaningful and emotional marketing content. However, the brand should not only depend on evoking consumers’ emotions, because emotion is not the only stimulation in marketing that will make a brand’s campaign successful. As is commonly said: ‘Content is the King’, so companies should not neglect a product’s features to avoid any misleading messages that are assumed by emotional storytelling marketing.
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