Are you telling the right stories?
I'll show you great examples of storytelling that yielded great results. We have been told over and over that storytelling is a vital ingredient for the success of your content marketing recipe.
However, try explaining a marketing manager why your new campaign has ducks as mascots or why you want to hire Tricia Brock (director of Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead & Orange Is the New Black) for a short YouTube Series and why you want to make a documentary when all you sell is shampoo, sanitary napkins, detergent, diapers etc. and all you will get is blank stares.
Unless, of course you have the making of great brands like Nike, P&G and Aflac, the three brands that have taken the art of storytelling to a whole new level. Today, we will see 3 awesome examples of storytelling by these 3 awesome companies.
Nike is no longer a company that sells shoes. It is a company that inspires people all over the world to become healthy and make better choices. It’s latest ‘Better for It’ video series called Margot V/s Lily has been appreciated for its relativity and refreshing honesty.
You should watch the series to understand fully what follows now (if you haven’t already) but picture this:
A fitness and sports apparel brand weaves a story around a girl called Margot, a fitness enthusiast, so obsessed with fitness that she has zero friends and social interaction.
It also brings to light the mania of social media amongst fitness gurus as Margot goes on and on about her 900,000 followers on her YouTube channel in one episode.
Now wait, isn’t this negative? Isn’t it like showing the ugly mirror of truth to your faithful audience who has been and unconsciously promoting your product?
That’s refreshing honesty for you. That’s not all, though.
Lily is the exact opposite of Margot and though she gears up with Nike apparel for her challenge, the clothes look unflattering on her.
So, whether it's with display advertising, internet TV advertising, super bowl advertising, or at the exhibition stand, you can tell a story that excites and nudges the customer into action.
Looking at the Lily story, you'll agree with me that it's relative. You realize that you are not perfect when you see others at the gym and instantly you think of Lily and that’s relativity for you.
Nike has been breaking ground at so many levels here that we can’t help but get inspired. Here are some takeaways from this content marketing campaign.
A story doesn’t have to be only about your products or services, try to create a good story that doesn’t revolve around your products but resonates with your audience. And then find a way to show your products just like Nike did.
Your product / service is not the perfect lifesaver or the best one you make them out to be. Show them in the real light. Tell them that your products can’t solve all your problems, but can solve those important pain points and can make your life easier.
P&G – Tell True Stories that Inspires
While Nike chose YouTube to tell its short-stories, P&G chose to make a mini website called P&Geveryday to showcase its real stories.
P&Geveryday has all sorts of resources like recipes, health tips, relationship advice and communities for black women, empty nesters, new movers, etc. in this website. Some of these stories are brought to you by P&G but a lot of them are user-generated.
In fact, they created a full-fledged documentary featuring the struggles of a black teenager who is coping with low self-esteem and body image issues.
P&G has always made ads that revolve around women. Over the years, their tone and formats have changed a lot. However, this idea stands out amongst all others because of the following reasons:
It is a confluence of true stories, inspiration and corporate responsibility which elevates the status of the brand to new heights.
No stories are in any way promotional. What’s more, they created another website altogether so that it doesn’t come across as promotional. This as an important lesson for marketers as people might not readily share or give backlinks to your e-commerce websites, but will surely share good stories. Take cue from P&G and create separate websites for your main e-commerce or business website and content portal, as shown in these links.
Aflac – Create a Hero, The Story Will Unfold Itself
When Aflac’s CEO chose a duck as the face of its new campaign in 2000, a lot of people quacked, sorry spoke, about it and not all of it was good. However, Aflac’s brand recognition soared in from 11 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2014, all thanks to the duck.
Now the story goes that the New York–based Kaplan Thaler Group suggested the duck campaign because the name Aflac rhymed a lot of with quack.
Someone in the agency kept forgetting the name of Aflac and kept asking his colleagues. One of the replied, “Aflac—Aflac—Aflac—Aflac” which sounded like a duck, and the idea was born. – source
However, as is common in agencies to be afraid to pitch something unconventional, or worse something that might offend the client, Kaplan Thaler had his reservations. Nevertheless, he did pitch this unconventional idea to an unconventional CEO and as a result an unconventional hero was born!
And when you have a strong character, like a Spiderman or let’s say James Bond, your story tells itself as it does here in the cute and clever video ad.
The best part is that the idea is so strong, even today they are able to use it to create a strong social media campaign around it. People are literally doting over the duck on social media.
They even sent the duck to Grammy’s and there was so much anticipation and excitement around it that people were even voting for Aflac duck’s bow!
Every story needs a hero, sometimes it is the product, sometimes it is the customer, sometimes it is the CEO and sometimes it is a gecko. Let’s say you are an invoice software company, so ideally who should be your hero – the accounts guy, the IT guy or even a talking computer, think beyond the conventional and you will have a hero.
Once you have the hero, make so many stories around it that it becomes like a real person and this is what the Aflac duck looks to me, a real person (or a duck person)!
Now the most important part – can you convince your marketing boss (and if you are the boss – convince yourself) why you need to incorporate storytelling into your content marketing campaign by looking at these examples?
If not, here are 5 more reasons to go over before you call it a day.
1. It’s tried and tested: You must have come across some brilliant pieces of vintage ads that told stories of all kinds. Even if you were not born around then, a lot of advertisers and marketers share vintage ads often.
The point is storytelling has been around for a while, in fact, it has been around since the time of cave drawings and so it is one of the most tried and tested method to create great content.
2. It has a great recall value: Why do we forget taking medicines, the name of a website that we saw just a week ago and important birthdays but still remember this epic dialog?
That is the recall value of great storytelling. If you want to become a brand that resonates with the audience, there is no better choice than storytelling.
3. It triggers actions and emotions: Even now we come across some powerful ads that tell a story through visuals and not in as many words, but good stories nevertheless.
These ads or stories leave a distinct impression on us, cutting through the clutter as they bring out varied emotions in us. In a time when information overload has become the bitter truth of our generation, do you think anything lesser than a great story will work the magic on your audience?
4. It can be used in every industry: We often come across B2B clients who tell us that storytelling is not meant for their industry.
However have a look at the software tutorials and presentations these days on YouTube and SlideShare and you will know that storytelling can be imbibed in each and every industry. Here’s a definite guide on content marketing for B2B businesses and it lists storytelling as one of the next-level tactics.
5. It can fit your budget: Unlike the examples provided above, storytelling can be done in less grand and budget-friendly ways as well. In fact, small businesses and startups can benefit best through storytelling.
For instance, everybody likes stories of companies’ history, customer success, and even struggles, so write about them in your website. What does it cost? Nothing except a few hours of writing and editing!
Storytelling can be weaved into any form of your content, be it website, blogs or videos. All you need is a master storyteller and a person with imagination and the ability to think out of the box.
Author Bio: Avinash Nair is a Digital Marketer at E2M, one of India’s fastest growing Digital Agency committed to meeting the highest ethical standards of digital marketing strategies and drive sustainable business growth. He is responsible for SEO and Link Building tactics. You can find him on Twitter: @AviNair52