Since the beginning of time, man has used story-telling as way to capture attention and communicate important messages. From rock art to epic poetry, the story form has taken many shapes throughout the ages.
And although the channels through which we tell stories today may differ quite dramatically, the ancient art form hasn’t lost any of its power to captivate and engage an audience.
This is undoubtedly why storytelling has become so popular in today’s marketing industry. With so many different media channels competing for customer attention, it’s become increasingly harder to deliver content that makes a memorable and meaningful impact.
Digital storytelling, however, gives marketers the opportunity to create content that has a lasting impression. Whether it be through blogs, campaigns or social media posts, stories help companies connect with their target audience in a truly unique way.
But what exactly is it that makes storytelling so captivating and how do marketers use it as tool to inspire customer action?
Let’s take a look at the three most basic elements of a story to get a better understanding.
Every Story Needs These 3 Basic Elements
Choose your protagonist
The protagonist is the main character or ‘hero’ of your story. Writers often use protagonists to give their stories focus and to help their readers become personally invested in their stories. Just think of the last time you read a book that you just couldn’t put down. Is it possible that you were so attached to the main character that you couldn’t wait to see what happened to them next?
Protagonists help the reader personally connect with your story, and help them process it on a deeper level. And that’s why creating a protagonist is so important to your story’s success.
How to inspire customer action: As a marketer, it’s best to ensure that your protagonist is as interesting and relatable as possible. Companies often make the mistake of positioning themselves as the ‘hero’ because they want to be the character in the story that their audience looks up to and admires. But this strategy isn’t effective in winning over the customer, as they are often unable to relate to a company on a personal level.
A better strategy would be to position the customer as the ‘hero’ or protagonist. Telling your story through the ‘lens’ of a customer will immediately make it more relatable and show that you see them as people rather than tools to earn profit. Which, in turn, will make them more likely to buy your products or make use of your services.
Create interest through conflict
Conflict can take the form of a struggle or challenge that your main character is faced with. It is common to all great stories. And writers use this element to give their stories direction and to engage readers’ emotions.
Just imagine a story in which the main character has an ambitious goal of becoming a famous singer. She performs at a local concert, is spotted by a talent scout who helps her get a recording contract with an established record label, and soon achieves her dream. End of story. Would you find this story interesting? Probably not.
But if your main character had severe stage fright, which prevented her from performing in front of a live audience. Would you not be interested to see how she overcomes her stage fright in order to reach her goal of being a famous singer?
Conflict is integral to your digital storytelling efforts as it sparks readers’ curiosity and makes them interested to see how your character will respond to the struggle in their life. Furthermore, conflict engages with readers’ emotions and helps them empathise with your character.
How to inspire customer action: To create conflict that convinces the customer to choose your brand, you need to put yourself in their ‘shoes’ and get to know their struggle or their ‘pain’. This is your opportunity to show your customers that you understand what they are going through and that you sympathise with them. Whatever challenge or struggle your story conveys, make sure that the way you present it motivates the customer to find a solution (this will lead them to look for your product or service).
Give your readers resolution
Every story needs some sort of resolution to give the reader closure. Have you ever reached the ending of a book and felt dissatisfied with the number of unanswered questions it has left you with? Writers need to show their readers that their time spent following the storyline was worthwhile if they want to build a strong and loyal fan base.
A good resolution rewards the reader by resolving the protagonist’s conflict – it leaves the reader with no doubt as to how they overcame their struggle or challenge.
How to inspire customer action: In terms of your marketing story, the resolution cannot be underestimated. Here’s your chance to show HOW the product or service that your company sells can directly resolve your customer’s conflict. Rather than just listing features and benefits, you can use digital storytelling to show how these feature and benefits will make your customer’s life better or how they will help them achieve their goals and dreams.
Although there are many more factors to consider when crafting your story, these three basic elements of storytelling will certainly get you off to a good start and help you understand what it takes to inspire customer action.