Base Your Brand Storytelling on Perceived Benefits

by: | October 7, 2011

There’s an old adage in marketing circles, “facts tell, stories sell.” Keep this in mind when you’re creating your online content. Create an experience for your customers by painting them a word picture, a compelling story, for how your product will look, feel or taste in their life, and it will pay back in spades.

The simple truth is numbers, features, facts, and figures don’t entice people to buy your products. When was the last time a list of hops or grain a beer company used, or the calorie count enticed you to buy a type of beer? I’ll venture to guess it doesn’t happen often. There are plenty of “island” style lagers, but drinking a Corona makes you think of the beach. There’s no shortage of stouts you could buy, but if you salivate over watching the head form on a perfectly poured pint of Guinness, you know firsthand how stories can effect how you buy a product.

People can relate to stories that lend personality and offer additional identifiers for the product. Stories connect with people’s emotions, and people buy on emotions. Use this to your advantage. Facts and features don’t elicit any sort of emotional connection. Stories and benefits, though, help the customer to picture themselves using the product or service and help them to “feel” in their minds how it can improve their lives, their happiness, their hobbies, or, of course, their businesses.

Paint a picture with your website copy, email newsletters, and online videos for your customer that illustrates how using your product can (and will) benefit them. Don’t expect them to read about the features and imagine on their own what it will do for them; make that leap for them, paint it clearly, and it will endear them to you as a customer, and oftentimes, a loyal customer. Facts communicate to the conscious mind, but stories sell to the unconscious mind that pushes people to make a decision, not based on need so much as based on their emotions.

Types of stories that sell

Paint a portrait of using the product

Put your customer in the middle of experiencing your product with your storyteling. Describe for them the feelings they’ll experience, the time they’ll save, how they’ll be more beautiful, whatever benefit your product has.

A great example of a company doing this brilliantly is Disney. Their website, videos, and emails paint a story of how Disney is the happiest place on Earth, filled with smiles and happiness. Parents who’ve been there with their kids know that’s not always the truth for them, but Disney’s true customers are kids, and they do a fantastic job of telling kids a compelling story of getting to meet all their favorite princesses and characters, living out their cartoon fantasies.

Testimonial stories

Don’t take it from me, just look at the results of other companies who’ve used testimonial stories to succeed in their businesses. Third-party emotional validation is powerful. Your customers will say, “If it works for them, it could work for me too!”

Proactiv is a fantastic example of using third-party validation. They show before and after pictures of people who have had success with their systems, immediately putting their customers in the mindset of, “I want to experience that ‘after’ result! If other people are seeing these kinds of results, I want to try it, too!” They also successfully use celebrity endorsements, another type of powerful testimonial, if you can get it.

If you have a B2B product, get testimonials from business clients who are having success with your products to demonstrate the results from a real-world perspective.

Branding origin story 

Sometimes the story of how a product came to be can speak volumes to a customer. When you meet a couple you admire, at some point you’ll probably ask them how they met. That’s their origin story, inspiring fondness and identification, and your business origin story can be just as powerful. Oftentimes, customers will root for a company when they hear a company started from humble beginnings.

Think of Google when they first started their meteoric growth. It was started by two guys as an experiment in their bedrooms and became one of the best known and beloved search engines. Besides being a better technology, people grasped onto the story of these two guys having an epiphany and building a product around it. Of course we were rooting for them! We wanted them to succeed so they could make other great products, which they have.

How are you using stories in your online marketing to sell to customers?Marketing Zeus

Posted in: B2B, B2C, Branding, Campaign Development, Content, E-Commerce, Facebook, Public Relations, Social Networks, Twitter, Video

About the Writer:

Born in England and raised in the U.S., Charles Forster is the marketing director and partner at Vine & Grain, a company that creates management technologies for bars and restaurants. Prior to that position, he ran a graphic design company, Call Me Chaz, in Philadelphia, PA and Orlando, FL. He focused on branding, websites, print, video and marketing for small business clients up and down the east coast. He's a self-prescribed car nut and foodie. He's also the curator for This Is Visceral, a site devoted to poster art.

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