The role of storytelling in marketing and brand building

Since the advent of humankind, storytelling has been a part of the way we communicate with one another, make connections, and pass on knowledge. People have used stories to explore their beliefs, share their experiences, and make cultural connections for millennia. Though much has changed over the years, one thing remains constant: storytelling is a part of how we communicate as humans.

Business is no exception to the rule. In marketing, it doesn’t matter who you’re marketing to; storytelling is an important part of the process. Business-to-business, or B2B marketing, business-to-government, or B2G marketing, and business-to-consumer, or B2C marketing all share a distinct commonality that can be easy to overlook in today’s world: all parties are human, and being able to tell an effective story can be crucial to your success in marketing.

Why Stories Are Compelling

Things are always going on around us. Each day is a continuum of unfolding events. It’s when we begin to perceive a narrative that events turn into stories. We can find meaning in the way events unfold around us, identify patterns, and even guess what the future might hold. We use stories not only to make sense and the meaning of life but to break it into meaningful sections that we can share with others.

But what is it that makes stories so impactful, and why are we drawn to them—both taking them in and sharing our own? The short answer is that stories are evocative. Stories can give rise to powerful emotions within us. We can become immersed in a narrative and compelled by the events that we’re following—whether they’re real or imagined.

Science has shown us that stories have the power to affect our mental state and give rise to strong emotions and experiences. Simply reading a part of a story can active parts of our brain that are typically associated with social cognition, and telling our own story has been shown to be effective in helping us regulate negative emotions such as anger.

What is the moral of this particular story? Stories feel natural to us—probably because storytelling has been an important cornerstone in our history as a species. And they’re powerful. They can influence us and captivate us, and immerse us in a narrative. Understanding the power of storytelling is often crucial to the success of marketing teams. Stories aren’t always fiction.

For marketers, storytelling can be the difference between simply telling a potential client or customer why your services or goods can fit their needs and immersing them in a narrative where it becomes clear that what you have to offer can meet their needs.

How Storytelling Works in Marketing

Storytelling is a vast and broadly encompassing term that can mean a lot of things. In fact, most marketing efforts can be thought of as storytelling—so what does the value in better understand how leveraging storytelling can be an effective way to connect your brand with the right individuals and organizations?

It’s important because the way you approach your marketing strategy can impact the outcomes of your marketing efforts. In other words—you’re probably already telling a story—so by being aware of it, you can more effectively make it a good one. Understanding the story that you’re creating can even help with early engagement, meaning understanding that story can also be key to understanding your brand’s reputation. Learning and understanding the skill of storytelling is a way you can approach marketing with the right goals in mind that can help you forge a path forward.

What About B2G Marketing?

Government procurement professionals often operate within well-defined boundaries. While B2B and B2C customers often need only worry about whether a good or service is a good fit for their needs, government procurement professionals must contend with other considerations, and B2G marketers must often contend with the complex hierarchy of government organizations.

But—the importance of storytelling in a B2G strategy is no less important. At the end of the day, though you may be marketing to government organizations, decisions will be made by humans who are compelled by storytelling, just like everyone else.

Importantly, a B2G sales strategy that takes into account the importance of storytelling can be effective, as a B2G marketing strategy that’s designed with good storytelling in mind can be optimized for the right goals.

Good Storytelling Makes People Care

Whether or not you do so intentionally, the information that you put out with your marketing efforts can form a narrative that can be thought of as a story. What kind of story are you telling with your brand? Is it compelling? Are you using techniques that storytellers have used for centuries to captivate audiences? Some of the elements in a good story can be highly important in marketing:

  • Creating a captivating introduction: whether you’re running a new ad campaign on social media or you’re reaching out to potential new contacts, it’s important to think about how your introduction is going to capture their attention. Maybe you capture their attention by talking about a pain point they regularly face. You could also discuss previous ways of addressing the pain point that now fall short. It is always best to make your story interesting from the first few sentences to keep your reader engaged.
  • Making it relatable: Stories have the wonderful power of connecting people. They make us feel immersed in a story and relate to the people in them. Understand the common elements among your audience that make us feel connected with one another—common struggles, common goals, and common beliefs.
  • Keeping it understandable: Sometimes, our favorite stories are the ones that are the easiest to follow and remember. These can be the stories that we remember for a lifetime. Storytelling is no different in marketing. It’s best to keep it simple. If things start to get a bit hard to follow, try to think of it as telling one story at a time. Think of different parts of the story, and focus on one at a time.

The Moral of The Story

The bottom line is that storytelling is not just an important part of how we communicate as humans—it’s also important to understand for marketers who are engaging in this rich tradition. We’re always creating stories and crafting narratives. It’s when we begin to examine the ways storytelling works that we can begin to leverage the true power of storytelling in our marketing efforts.

If you’re interested in changing the way you approach your digital marketing efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Cadence Marketing, we have over 39 years of experience supporting buyers and suppliers in the private sector and public sectors. To learn more, be sure to reach out and contact us today.

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