With an ever increasing accent on marketing campaigns, customers are being bombarded every single day, with countless promotional messages from most media.
This poses a great challenge for marketing managers, who do not want their products to be among several ‘me-too’ ones.
In the last decade or so, marketing professionals have turned to the technique of storytelling, to create an emotional ‘connect’ with their audience; it takes just a short duration of time, and the impact of the message is fantastic.
Television ads employ storytelling more often to highlight the benefits of products or services; they do not test the patience of audience with mundane technicalities. As a natural extension of television ads, corporate videos go all out now to exploit the storytelling technique and win over their audiences.
Storytelling: a great marketing tool
Storytelling as an effective marketing tool is not a new idea. The silent movies of the 1900s and 1910s showed 1-minute ads in between portions of the movies, and these had a theme around selling a product such as a shampoo or soap. Storytelling has continued since then in various forms and in every medium of communication.
From the 70s and 80s onwards, with the advent of consumer electronics, technological effects came to be considered a big differentiator. Storytelling was gradually pushed to the background, as myriad technical details became the centrepiece of ads and marketing communication.
However, as technology has continued to invade every single aspect of our daily lives, technical excellence is taken for granted today; it has no exciting marketing prospects any more. Consequently, the wheel has turned full circle: marketers now rely upon the storytelling tool, in an attempt to increase memory recall for business prospects.
According to comScore, a global media measurement and analytics company, providing marketing data and analytics, about 45.4% of Internet users view currently at-least one video per month. While explainer videos have more utilitarian value, those which employ storytelling are more effective in creating a quick connect with and educating the viewer about the offering.
Basics of storytelling
Most storytelling videos have a similar structure and components as outlined below:
- A powerful introduction which sets the emotional tone for the rest of the video
- A protagonist (male/female, old/young) with an aim and message
- Creating some tension/conflict by showcasing real-world obstacles to the aim
- A crisis or incident that creates the climax and heightens anxiety or expectation
- A resolution to the hurdle, which reiterates the unique benefit [(unique selling point/proposition (USP)] of the product/service
In spite of the standard format, storytelling videos are very effective indeed; they have been exploited to the full by some of the global marquee companies. Marketers use various strategies to make the video powerful:
- Interviewing storytellers who offer subjective opinion on the product/service
- Offering subtle interpretations of that opinion through anchors to ensure that the marketing messages convert effectively the targeted group
- Using audio files which may not be as dramatic as in a movie, but succeed in creating a ‘mood’
Tips for powerful storytelling
- Tell the story through the eyes and perspective of a particular person as against multiple individuals.
- As a business owner, come in as the subject matter expert and provide little nuggets of emotional information.
- The interview must convey subjective opinion that adds to the passion and emotion.
- Ensure that interviews and sound bites are short, and allocate more time for the story to unfold.
- Ensure optimum duration for the video; say 60 to 90 seconds, to make it engaging.
- Pay attention to the aesthetics, and ensure that the story has visual appeal.
- Create multiple videos, and use the most powerful one first, followed by the rest.
‘Content’, ‘emotion’ and ‘video’ are the latest buzzwords in the field of marketing communication. Storytelling videos unify these three elements into an organic whole; they create a compelling case for a particular product or service.
You may think of Above-the-Line Marketing (ATL), which focuses on ad campaigns for widespread brand-building; or Below-the-Line Marketing (BTL) – for conversions through intensive direct marketing intended for targeted groups; or Through-the-Line Marketing (TTL), which integrates both the ATL and BTL approaches.
However, they are all expensive; try creating a few storytelling videos instead, and you are very likely to be pleasantly surprised by the positive results.