Once Upon a Bottom Line: The Importance of Storytelling in Marketing
Once upon a bottom line, a marketer tapped his red pen and wondered how he could reach a wider audience of interested prospects. His organization had important products and services that could improve lives, yet his marketing team struggled to get the recognition his Wally’s Widgets brand needed for success. Exasperated and already late for a dinner date, Wally closed down his accounting software and closed up shop for the night.
The burden of sagging sales weighed heavily on his mind, Wally found his friend Margie Marketer already seated at the local diner.
“What’s wrong, Wally? You look lower than Kevin Costner’s profits from Waterworld.” Margie smiled up at her friend.
“My company can single-handedly fix the global widget shortage, yet nobody seems to know about my brand. I have a website, publish white papers on my blog, and regularly publish my contact information in no-nonsense social media posts. I don’t know what my organization is doing wrong. I feel invisible.” Wally looked around for a waiter, but they all seemed busy.
“Have you tried storytelling? It’s considered one of the most important elements of a successful marketing campaign.”
“I’ve never heard of storytelling in marketing before. Is it new?” Wally waved his hand at a passing waiter, who continued without stopping.
“Humans have been storytellers for thousands of years,” said Margie. “Storytelling has evolved on its journey from simple figures painted on cave walls to social media posts on digital screens. Now we’ve got Super Bowl ads that are more like 30-second mini-movies and companies, like Airbnb, selling goods and services by uploading storytelling videos to the internet.
“What is storytelling?” Wally’s soft voice barely made it above the roar of the crowded restaurant.
“Storytelling is when a person conveys useful information in a narrative style, rather than in a list of boring statistics and talking points. The narrative tells people about your company’s motivations, rather than discussing your production numbers and sales goals. Proper storytelling has an engaging beginning, a gripping crisis and a fulfilling resolution. This approach to communication creates an opportunity for interaction between Wally’s Widgets and the customers you want to reach.”
“So what story do I tell?” Wally waved his menu, but the waiter ignored him.
“Well, you would want to tell a story that explains what your brand stands for. The story should share a real experience. It should tell the audience how you are different from all of the other widget tycoons out there. Story telling should also add a human element to your content and awaken empathy from those hurt by the recent widget crisis.”
“Where would I engage in storytelling? The fire chief made me remove the campfire pit from the employee lounge since the s’mores incident.” The waiter walked by again, pretending to overlook the couple.
“You can tell your story in blog posts, eBooks, websites, recipes, whitepapers and tutorials. You can even make videos about widgets. Start with the About page on your website. Most companies have a boring About Us page, which means they miss a great opportunity for storytelling.”
“I don’t know, Margie. Is storytelling really that important?” Wally tried valiantly to attract the attention of the waiter who was now leaning against the wall, texting.
“A case study by Harvard Business Review found that making an emotional connection is more important than customer satisfaction. The company in the case study was able to increase its number of active customers by 15 percent and boost same-store-sales growth by 50 percent simply by using a customer experience strategy based on emotional connection. This suggests that your customers care more about how emotionally connected Wally’s Widgets is than they care about their own satisfaction.”
“Well, I am passionate about my widgets. My family has been in the widget industry for four generations, but my predecessors had always put profits over people. One day, when I was a child, I saw one of my classmates working in the widget mine, his little face smudged in the widget smog that hung heavy in the air. That day, I swore I would free my friend and all the children of the world through innovative widget technology.
“Putting my name on the world’s first environmentally friendly, biodegradable widget was the proudest day of my life. I want to build a world where my children and other people’s children never struggle with crippling widget shortages, a world where the air is free from toxic widget waste.”
“That’s the most beautiful story I’ve ever heard in my life,” sobbed Margie as she wiped a tear from her eye. In that moment, Margie and Wally realized that everyone in the restaurant was listening to the story. Almost as if on cue, everyone began to applaud as they rushed to get Wally’s business card. The waiter ran up to the table to get not only Wally’s order, but his autograph too.
“You did it, Wally!” Margie exclaimed. “You learned the importance of storytelling in marketing! Now just bring those stories to the Wally’s Widgets website page, blogs and social media, and you can save the world AND your company’s bottom line!”
Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. She writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.