Storytelling has been a part of the human experience for centuries. And, as the marketing world sheds it’s hard-selling habit, the age-old tradition is being used more and more to capture the interest of consumers. Unlike heavily promotional marketing, story-based content has the power to make an audience really feel something. It forms an emotional bond between brand and consumer, reinforcing brand awareness and compelling viewers to take action.
Video marketing is especially suited to storytelling. Video is easy to digest and appeals to both auditory and visual senses, providing plenty of opportunities to invoke emotion.
Four Key Elements of a Compelling Story
Believe it or not, most stories follow the same basic structure. Include these four elements in your video to really engage your audience:
Every good story has a hero. Think: Cinderella, Frodo Baggins or even Buster the Boxer. Put a character at the centre of your story who your audience will relate to and empathise with. This could be a completely fictional character, or it could even be one of your previous customers.
To get your audience to invest emotionally in your hero, you need to give them a goal. This is the element that will really drive your story. Cinderella, for example, is desperate to go to the ball; Frodo is on a mission to destroy the Ring; and Buster the Boxer wants nothing more than to jump around on that trampoline with his animal friends.
Allowing your hero to achieve their mission with minimal effort doesn’t make for a very interesting story — or a strong emotional payoff. You need to place an obstacle between your character and their goal. For Frodo, that was the evil Sauron, his black riders and a hoard of orcs; for Buster the Boxer, it was a simple patio door.
Reward your audience by allowing your hero to overcome any obstacles and achieve their goals. Everyone loves a success story. More often than not, the emotional payoff is what will make your story truly memorable. No one could possibly forget Buster the Boxer bouncing around on that trampoline.
Four Ways to Use Storytelling for a More Engaging Video
So, how can you apply these storytelling elements to your video marketing campaign? Here a handful of examples to get you started:
When produced to a high standard, fictional marketing videos can be very effective. The John Lewis Christmas ads have, for example, been very well received over the last few years. Whether you choose animation or live-action, make sure that the story is contextual; it needs to be relevant to your target audience and encapsulate your brand’s overall message.
Give your leading role to one or more of your previous customers. Allow them to tell their story — how your product allowed them to overcome a problem and achieve their goals. Putting your customers front and centre will add a personal touch to your video marketing campaign and build your audience’s trust.
Take your audience behind the scenes and share the story of your brand’s conception or the development of a particular product. Showing the people behind the products adds a human element to the business and helps to build the relationship between brand and customer.
Interviewing industry thought leaders, employees, customers and partners is an easy and effective way to generate stories organically. Create a series of interesting interview videos, using the storytelling elements to guide your questioning.
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