Storytelling is one of the founding concepts of marketing. Rather than just throwing products or prices at consumers, telling an impactful story is one of the best possible ways to truly make an impact. Not every brand is good at this practice, but it’s an integral skill and an element of any successful marketing campaign.
Let’s use the example of a recent Budweiser ad starring NBA player Dwayne Wade. Sure, the commercial is meant to advertise Budweiser, with a play on their time-tested slogan “This Bud’s for you”. However, this commercial told a story, going down in the books as yet another success story for the beer juggernaut.
The ad tells the story of the impact Wade has had on different people throughout his career. From his mother, whom he supported when he made it big in the NBA, to a girl who memorialized her brother whose life was taken in the Parkland school shooting, Wade was presented with mementos as a gesture of thanks.
The impact was felt far and wide as the video quickly went viral, reaching millions within hours. This form of storytelling could easily have been perceived as gratuitous or self-serving. But when done correctly, it has the opposite effect as it stirs an emotional response in the viewer. Telling a story in marketing serves many purposes. First, it gives consumers the opportunity to consume content that isn’t just all about sales. Second, the story helps align consumers with the core values of the brand.
In Budweiser’s instance, they wanted to drive home the far-reaching impact that public figures can have, and how much others look up to them. This story makes far more sense than simply an ad showing a variety of beer which isn’t nearly as interesting nor as captivating.
So, then, how does a brand conceptualize a story that will make a lasting impact on consumers? Bearing in mind that the concept must be done in taste and with tact, it’s beneficial to do some digging into concepts that will resonate and that also align with the brand’s core values.
Developing a story can be simple, though. Fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A recently used a campaign that featured small, simple stories from customers who had a positive experience with an employee who went above and beyond their job description. This marketing campaign resulted in a simple yet impactful series of short stories that showed how much employees cared about making their customers’ experiences meaningful.
So it may not take too much guesswork to land on a story that will be a springboard for an impactful marketing campaign. If nothing else, finding a way to tell the story of why a business exists is often a successful choice. Perhaps the company’s founder saw a pain point in the market based on personal experiences. Telling this story brings the founder and, as a result, the company onto a more relatable field from the consumer’s perspective.
Finding a way to tell a story is a skill that most marketing professionals are constantly working to improve. After all, marketing isn’t just about making sales and telling people to purchase a product or service. Of course, that is one of the main goals, but the path to achieve this goal is often different. Get creative, think outside the box, and use past examples as precedent for great, impactful storytelling.