Combining a marketing campaign for a brand with story-telling is not a new concept. It’s been used on TV for years from the Taster’s Choice coffee romance to the humorous adventures of the Wendy’s hamburger lady or the Allstate Insurance “mayhem” man. While true, small businesses will quickly respond that they can’t easily afford multi-thousand dollar commercials on TV. However, an inability to be on TV doesn’t mean a small business can’t take advantage of the same story-telling tool for brand awareness.
With the capability of putting up free videos on YouTube and then marketing them on social media, a small business can easily generate the same popular effect via the Internet versus a regular TV broadcast. In fact, social media today may reach even more consumers than a TV commercial slot. That said, crafting the storytelling is the tricky part. Top copywriters will agree that good storytelling in marketing has at least five elements that should always be included. These elements are:
Don’t Make False Promises – People can usually tell over time when someone is fibbing. This is because the promises don’t line up with reality. Further, there are just too many people with time on their hands who will do serious fact-checking. Being caught in a lie is the worst thing a business can do to itself, so don’t take the risk.
Got Personality? – Story-telling often focuses around a memorable character. Whether it’s a chihuahua selling tacos or a car dealer with an odd variety of animals named “Spot,” successful marketing stories have a character people remember. In fact, some characters become so engrained in U.S. culture they develop their own fan base and T-shirts when done right.
Your Character Should be Supportable – People want to root for the main character of the story, not be repulsed by him. Make sure the main face being seen in an ad is likable and someone people will mentally root for.
Tell a Complete Story – People can’t stand fragments. It’s why TV shows ended in mid-season have fan clubs that go crazy demanding an ending. Instead, make sure the marketing campaign has a beginning, middle and a final closing. A complete story will be far more memorable among consumers.
Keep them Wanting More – Don’t give away the story in the first five seconds. Stories can be stretched out over multiple episodes, commercials, or ads, as long as the storyline follows the complete storyline arc. Each crisis point should focus on the brand being the solution to a problem, but the story can be stretched out through multiple challenges or cliffhangers until the end.
So if your small business needs a good kick for the holidays, think up an entertaining story line to weave into advertisements or YouTube videos. This doesn’t have to be Oscar material; it just needs to be funny and memorable. Then put it together and launch the story one piece at a time with the elements above.
Tom L is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.