In the heydays of marketing product placement in popular TV-shows worked wonders, but long gone are the days where one could advertise with a pack shot of the product and expect the audience to go wild.

In our day and age advertisers who still focus on their products and less on the reasons why they are selling have a tough time in convincing their online customers. Many brands opt for promoted content, and with a wide range of advertising on social media, it is becoming an increasingly more crowded and noisy environment to reach social users. Old-school marketers who have matured with the motto: “Go Out and Tell Them.” don’t stand a change in the digital era.

Start with the why

Simon Sinek, author of the book ‘Start with Why’, convincingly explains: “Inspired organisations (…) act and communicate from the inside out. “Why are you in the market? What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?”And although a small fraction of marketers still believe that visual marketing is the most important form of content for their businesses, second to blogging, a compelling story forms the core part of any content marketing success.

The Big Idea

It may cost significantly more to get bang for your buck while trying to reach social users. The ‘Big Idea’ behind your story has to come up, to emerge, since your product, how good it may be, simply doesn’t constitute one in its own right. Your first step is to go deep and analyse your brand’s DNA. Start with defining the brand values embedded within your proprietary, as seen through the eyes of your customers. Then take it from there. This approach should lead to both brand equity as well as millage in your storytelling since content marketing is a long-term game. All of the efforts need to add up to a general increase in awareness, and more important, authority, over time.

Emotionally compelling content

We have seen that great video and visuals together with an interesting, emotional, shocking or interesting first hook sentence is a must on Instagram to get users to stop scrolling. Nevertheless, the main idea behind your storytelling is that it is emotionally compelling and intellectually interesting. If you want to create a loyal tribe of dedicated followers, people need to buy in on the number one belief they must to have before you present your superior offer to them. What do you say in the first 350 – 500 words of your marketing campaign (read: story) so that you hook prospects emotionally? Emotional content can either be historically emotional, personal emotional or topically emotion (current affairs).

Storytelling takeaways

— Try to create a story that doesn’t revolve around your products, but resonates with your audience. Then find the best way to embed your product.

— Your brand is elevated to new heights by the confluence of true stories, inspiration and corporate responsibility.

— Your stories should not be promotional in any way, since people will surely share a good story. However, they might not be ready to share or give backlinks to your e-commerce websites. Because of this, you need to post on YouTube, use Instagram or create another website altogether, so that you do not come across as overly promotional – something which forms a difficult lesson for marketers.

— Show your product in a real light. It may simply not be the perfect lifesaver or the one you make it out to be. Explain to your audience that your product cannot solve all of their problems, but that it can solve most of the painstaking issues and make life a lot easier.

— Every story needs to have a hero. It may be the product (see above), it can be the customer, the CEO or even a flapping bird! Let’s say you are a language translation company, so ideally who should be your hero – the teacher, the IT guy or even a talking computer? Think beyond the conventional and you will find your story’s hero.

— Once you have created the hero produce so many stories around this entity that it appears like a real person. This is why an example as the Aflac Duck or Nike’s ‘Winner Stays’ hero looks convincing to me.