Like it or not, storytelling has never been more important as a B2C marketing tool. You will have seen for yourself how brands have built a mass following based around their storytelling campaigns, and the success and reach of these stories has led brands to repeat this format again and again, in more and more creative ways.

It’s been said that UK Christmas campaigns are now equivalent to the Super Bowl in America, and where Coca Cola once dominated, our national brands have now followed suit. John Lewis’s annual Christmas television adverts have now become almost bigger than the brand itself. Originally starting back in 2007, the adverts have gone through somewhat of an evolution from being purely product based, to truly tugging at our heartstrings, and there’s no prizes for guessing which adverts have been the most successful.

John Lewis launched its YouTube channel in 2010 and the views on their Christmas adverts have been steadily building ever since, from 1 million for the not particularly emotive ‘A Tribute to Givers’, to over 20 million for their latest installment featuring Monty the Penguin, their most successful to date, which is already reported to have resulted in a year on year sales boost for the brand:

Another retail giant, Sainsbury’s, has also been buying into this Christmas storytelling trend in recent years, often with a focus on the military and being proud to be British. This year they retold a WWI story most of us already knew, but that didn’t stop it having over 15 million views on YouTube:

Obviously these examples focus on large, well established brands, but the same lessons can be applied to SMEs on a smaller scale.

Why is storytelling so useful for marketing?

Good content is always about engaging with the audience. Consumer expectations have changed in recent years, and there is now more of a demand for high quality, shareable content than ever before.  As we touched on in a previous blog – Images and Impact – How the Right Picture Can Increase Your Reach – the most successful advertising campaigns tend to provide an immersive experience. They speak to customers in a way which they can identify with, to create an emotional response and get their buy in – and once your have buy in, this is far more likely to lead to buying!

How to tell your story

Be valuable

Don’t be put off by the expensive looking videos from large brands – your story can be told in so many different ways and in many different formats. Your story can also be fictional or based on a real life, but fiction or not, it must be true to the values of your brand and reflect a type of reality for consumers. If your story fails to speak to consumers in a relevant way, your campaign will just end up entertaining rather than engaging, and will fail to address their needs. Consider what you’re trying to achieve by asking yourself who you’re targeting and what they value, and keep this in mind throughout your campaign.

Be provocative

Your message should be provocative, and trigger a response favourable to your brand goals and ambitions. Popular cultural references offer a good way to speak to a broad range of people and communicate ideas or emotions in a really efficient way – for example you only need to play a few bars from the shower scene in Hitchcock’s famous ‘Psycho’ to evoke a sense of horror, in the same way that showing a dove will elicit a feeling of peace and tranquility – your audience’s familiarity with these cultural references will allow you to get your message across quickly, and establish a clear tone and direction for your story.

Be memorable

You should aim to make your story memorable by creating an emotional connection –  it may not lead to a sale immediately, but when effective it will stay in the mind of your audience, and get you talked about. The wider the reach of your campaign, the more likely you are to see a return on your investment. If you are planning to do a sequence of campaigns, then there should be consistency across them – they should all have an identifiable style and message that make them clearly associated with your brand.

How Ricemedia can help

We provide integrated and flexible outreach services including content marketing and digital PR, to help you get the most from business. We can help you plan your strategy and execute your marketing campaign with confidence. Get in touch with us today to discover how we can add real value  to your brand.

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