From the beginning of human history, storytelling has been used to amuse, engage, inspire, and educate the hearer. Great stories are compelling because they share an inner truth that resonates with us on an emotional level and reinforces our values. That connection actually inserts us “into” the story.
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Movies are one example of compelling storytelling. It’s why we laugh, cry, or yell at the TV when one of our values is violated. If you think about it, much of our everyday communications are in the form of a story: blogs, newspaper articles, reality shows, and even a casual conversation with a friend over coffee.
In its purest form, a story contains three essential elements: 1. a character 2. overcoming an obstacle 3. to reaching a goal. The same factors apply when building a story for your brand.
When it comes to messaging, most marketing strategies focus on the features and benefits of the product or service rather than being experiential. Here’s an example.
“Tom needs a new barbecue grill, and he chose the Montana XL800 charcoal grill with 800 square inches of cooking area, adjustable cooking grates, and an easy-start igniter. He loves how easy it is to use, and the food is great. Buy a Montana grill today!”
The story conveys the features and a call to action, but it doesn’t create a connection between the brand and the consumer.
Now let’s create a personal connection.
“To the backyard barbecuer who sees outdoor cooking as a uniquely satisfying experience. Who considers their backyard a place to relax and escape the fast pace of life. To the outdoor chef who finds cooking over a wood fire to be curiously instinctive. To the weekend griller who considers cooking and sharing a delicious meal with family and friends as time well spent. Move up to a Montana Grill.”
The difference between the two stories is dramatic. The first one has no personal connection. The second one inserts the consumer into the story by connecting with what the consumer believes and values.