(Originally posted in DailySEOBlog)
If there’s one secret to effective marketing, it’s that customers are drawn to powerful stories.
It makes sense. Compared to traditional sales tactics, storytelling is downright seductive. Where “selling” pushes the product on the consumer, storytelling pulls the consumer in with culture and a sense of belonging. Instead of spouting facts and features, storytelling provokes a positive emotional connection. And finally, where traditional selling pressures the customer to act, storytelling builds a need within the customer that the brand can fulfill.
As marketers find new ways to make these connections with buyers, creativity and storytelling become increasingly important. But it’s not enough for a brand to simply develop a personality; it has to translate into a story that truly resonates with customers.
If your brand wants to crack open the long-term benefits of building a fan base with storytelling, here are four steps you need to follow:
1. Research What Personally Influences Your Market
Your brand story is based on the unique personality of your brand and all the facets that have shaped it: its history, influences, and values, as well as the people behind it.
But even with an established brand story, the way you tell your target market this story depends on who those people are. To ensure the right message reaches the right people, you need to determine what personally influences your audience’s emotions.
First, you have to identify and target the right audience with segmentation. Pay attention to things like gender and demographics, as well as deeper segmentation, such as personality traits and your audience’s interests.
To see this strategy in action, just look at Red Bull. This brand has done a great job of telling a brand story that resonates with a certain segment of young males, including content focused on adventure sports, car racing, video games, and music.
Red Bull breaks out of its comfort zone with its content — just like its target customers strive to break out of their own comfort zones — and Red Bull’s branding and content reflects this message.
Jeep is another brand that successfully communicates its story with rugged, “part of the club” brand storytelling. This aligns with the values of freedom and adventure that are extremely relatable to its audience. Jeep has continued to connect to its audience throughout its long history of weathering the market, even as it introduces more luxury features to the brand with the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
2. Utilize Strategic SEO
Once you have a clear view of your brand story, you need to tell it strategically through digital marketing with content and SEO.
Content marketing creates a deeper connection with your audience by relating to them one-on-one or solving a persistent problem they face. This gets them so invested in your story that they can’t wait to share it with their own networks.
You need to reinforce this story with a backbone of strategic SEO, using keywords that relate to your product features and your brand story. Choose words that work as specific product descriptions and emphasize how your consumers want to feel.
For Jeep, imagine a customer searching “adventurous car to take on awesome road trips,” or “4-wheel drive, soft top, black.”
Keywords that speak to your company values and what your product can deliver will make SEO work for your search results and brand story.
3. Tell Your Story on the Right Platform
You may tell the right story to the right audience, but if it’s communicated on the wrong platform, your efforts are wasted. Tell your story on a platform that will resonate with your unique target audience.
Traditional platforms: While many trends are moving toward digital and live events, traditional marketing methods such as print and TV ads, billboards, letters, and direct mail remain important.
For example, Jeep still sends welcome letters to new Jeep owners with Jeep-branded leather keychains. It’s a traditional, simple touch that’s highly effective and continues to fuel its brand story of inclusiveness.
The brand also does an amazing job of telling emotional, inspirational brand stories, as evidenced by its latest Jeep Grand Cherokee campaign. This is a particularly powerful approach for high-volume viewing events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.
Digital advertising: Because it offers the largest number of platform options, digital advertising is a no-brainer. However, the sheer amount of engagement tends to create a lot of noise, making it more difficult to stand out.
Mix in your brand story throughout the digital landscape, starting with your company website and the social sites best suited for your brand story. Decide which platforms to focus on by researching each platform based on its merits and targeting the ones on which your customers are spending the most time.
Live events and promotions: Depending on the characteristics of your target customer and the brand story you’re telling, your brand might benefit from live events and promotions. Red Bull does this perfectly with campaigns that exemplify bravery and action, such as its Red Bull Stratos campaign. Ask yourself how your brand could create and promote similar events on a smaller scale to share your brand story.
4. Listen to the Playback
In the digital age, it’s easier than ever for consumers to contribute to a brand’s story. With so much conversation, it’s important for a brand to listen to its consumers’ version of the story and react accordingly. This is especially relevant on social media, where consumers are offering their own content and opinions about brands.
The most powerful part of storytelling happens after you’ve crafted your message, identified your audience, and released your story, so monitor conversations and respond to keep your story relevant.
Every brand has a powerful story behind it. It’s just a matter of untangling that story for the right audience and releasing it on the right platforms. When you take the time to appreciate storytelling and its impact on your customers, you open the floor for your brand fans to latch on to your story and start sharing it themselves.