Sure, it’s probably stating the obvious to marketers and content creators that storytelling can be powerful in business. But what separates the decent stories from the earth-shattering ones, and why does it even matter? And with such high volumes of content being produced today, how can storytelling in marketing be used to make content stand out? 

When it comes to storytelling in marketing, there’s a wide range of ways that marketers can execute this process. 

When stories are memorable, your audience wakes up the next day thinking about them. 

They tell their friends, their coworkers, and their kids. 

They think about them before they go to sleep and when they’re at the gym. 

Maybe most importantly, they reach for their credit cards, punch in the numbers, and happily continue subscribing for your SaaS company. 

On the other hand, when stories don’t stand out, they end up like yesterday’s newspaper: on the bottom of birdcages, doomed to be forgotten. And your audience’s attention drifts to a brand with a more memorable story. 

Storytelling in marketing has truly explosive potential for brands, moreso today than ever before. Content can go viral in seconds, instantly reaching hundreds of thousands of people. It can disrupt Google’s listing, landing brands on Page 1 in front of all of their competitors. 

It’s never been easier to control your own narrative and write your own history. These storytelling techniques will level-up any branding or marketing strategy.

Aren’t Narratives Just for Storybooks?

It’s not quite ancient history: in his 1987 book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, psychologist Jerome Bruner found that people are about 22 times more likely to remember facts when they’re part of a story. 

As anyone who has sat in on a particularly dull university lecture can attest to, we know it’s true. Especially if you think back to a class where the teacher was memorable. Sure – maybe it was their energy, or their overall “vibe.” But more likely than not, they also probably used storytelling techniques.

Here’s the thing about storytelling in marketing today: when it’s being done well, your audience might not even realize they’re being sold to.

That’s one of the main reasons why narrative is necessary from a marketing standpoint. Yes, we’ve heard that storytelling can make customers far more likely to buy a product,  and even that storytelling releases feel-good chemicals in our brains (like cortisol, dopamine, and oxytocin), which helps stories stick. 

But it’s also the case that your brand’s narrative can be so good that it makes your customer forget they’re being sold to, and brings them to a place where they’re simply along for the ride, emotionally invested in the story. 

Writing with the buyer’s journey in mind

Storytelling in marketing for today’s digital-first audience is not like the storytelling of years past. 

It needs to not only be relevant for the product, the brand, the audience, and the platform of consumption. It also needs to be created with the buyer’s journey in mind.

For example, let’s look at a common three-step buyer’s journey:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

When storytelling in marketing is designed with the buyer’s journey in mind, it looks different for customers at different stages. 

The story you’re telling for a buyer in the “awareness” stage might be very different from a story you’re telling for a buyer in the “decision stage.”   

In order to successfully deploy storytelling in marketing, it’s important to realize that even within one brand, one product, and one target audience, storytelling is hardly ever “one size fits all.” 

Why do we need to tell a story?

What’s the deal with storytelling in marketing anyway, and with the speed and volume of content available today, why isn’t storytelling ancient history? That’s just it: storytelling is the “secret weapon” that positions a brand ahead of its competitors, in the seas of content and competition.

Think about it like this: us humans create several quintillion bytes of data every single day. Sure, a lot of that data can probably be credited to long-winded Reddit threads, indie music blogs with five readers per month, and 24/7 Twitch video game streamers, but that still leaves tons of content that is being produced that has to do with brands in your space. In order for brands to attract an audience, be memorable, and be more appealing than their competition, storytelling is absolutely vital. 

What brands tell great stories?

Don’t just take our word for it: the proof is in the stories. Here are some examples of brands telling excellent stories to create a narrative as part of their selling strategy. 

If we asked you today: “Which car manufacturer sold the most electric cars last year?” you’d probably say Tesla, known today as the top dog when it comes to electric vehicles. This is the correct answer. In 2021, Tesla was the only car manufacturer to sell more than 1 million units of an electric vehicle (it sold 1.3 million of its Tesla Model 3).

Now, if we asked you that same question in 2018, you might also give the same answer: Tesla. But in this instance, you’d be wrong. In 2018, Nissan sold more units of its Nissan Leaf than any other electric car on the market. 

Would anyone guess that the Nissan Leaf was outselling Elon Musk’s behemoth Tesla, even in 2018? Probably not, at least at first glance. That’s because the simple, engaging, and even tantalizing stories that Tesla was telling were enough to make consumers feel like it was onto something new, and that it was doing what no one else was doing. Elon Musk’s storytelling with his brands has been hailed as one of the reasons for their success.

We were all there: during the pandemic, there was an abrupt shift to working from home, with little-to-no notice. And to suddenly support remote work, there was a massive need for video, and Zoom suddenly came out on top.

In hindsight, this might make sense. But at the time, Zoom’s success wasn’t as obvious. 

There were (and still are) a lot of competitors in this space, and some seemed better positioned to come out on top. So how did Zoom do it? Sure, its usability and features were part of it. 

But Zoom rode the wave of its popularity and positioned itself as the “one and only” resource for video communications during the pandemic. Zoom used storytelling in marketing to show users that Zoom was there to support you during the pandemic. And this story is almost more valuable than the video chatting features themselves. 

Will Reed has a very unique product for sale, that isn’t an SaaS product, but that also doesn’t sit on store shelves: they’re in the business of executive recruiting. And with just a quick scan of Will Reed’s homepage, you can see exactly how they’re harnessing the power of storytelling in their strategy.

Not only does Will Reed’s homepage pop, but they use highly engaging text to weave a powerful story together: we’re in a new startup era, you’re expected to do more with less, and you need great leaders now more than ever before.

For a business who is looking to hire new executives, this memorable narrative can be a far more powerful hook than a simple list of services. 

This SaaS performance management platform helps measure, diagnose and improve business performance using proven behavioral science. 

While their platform is strong on its own accord, they also use powerful storytelling as part of their selling strategy. If you take a look at RallyBright’s homepage, you see that instead of simply listing features and uses, they paint a picture, showing how data can help “leaders quickly identify and tackle the top challenges keeping their teams from achieving success.”

Can storytelling work alongside SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is nothing new, and it’s just as effective as ever before. In fact, it has the highest potential ROI of any marketing channel. But what is new is how it’s being used, and what techniques work best with SEO. What’s also new is how it ties into storytelling in marketing. 

What’s “out” when it comes to SEO? Keyword stuffing, keyword strings that make little sense IRL, and going after keywords with the toughest competition on the internet. 

What’s “in” when it comes to SEO? 

Telling engaging narratives and stories with content, and seamlessly weaving in SEO practices, in order to ensure that content is actually discovered. 

That’s why here at RevenueZen, when we create blog and website content, we don’t only focus on industry-leading SEO strategies that are built on a brand-by-brand basis. We also focus on how storytelling techniques can elevate content into something that is engaging, valuable, and memorable.

Storytelling and SEO go hand-in-hand. When both are executed flawlessly, brands are left with top-tier marketing content that hooks audiences and converts potential buyers into lifelong clients. 

What Makes A Good Story? Aka How To Use Storytelling In Marketing

When it comes to creating a “good” story as far as your brand is concerned, it’s easier now than ever to control your own narrative and write your own history. 

This is especially true if you’re the founder of a startup or growing business. Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn and modern-day digital distribution channels, it’s never been simpler (or more important) to tell your story. 

The best stories are the ones that are personal, emotional, and authentic. At they’re very core, these stories might convey: 

  • What your company’s mission is
  • What your personal goals are
  • How and when to use your voice
  • How your voice reflects your company’s culture

Once story goals are identified, the next step is to create content that aligns with these stories. Write blog posts and web copy that stays true to these values, and make sure that it informs everything you do, from your marketing materials to your sales scripts.

Storytelling in marketing is a critical component to making potential buyers feel a part of your company right from the beginning

Storytelling today isn’t something that’s best left for children’s authors and grandmothers, because storytelling in marketing has the power to transform content, and to propel a brand to new heights. 

It is a critical part of making your buyers feel like they’re part of your company right from the beginning, and is central for making your brand memorable.

If you’re interested in elevating your brand’s content using storytelling, we’re here to help. Contact us today to find out how storytelling can transform your content.

Jake is the Growth Manager at RevenueZen. He works with a number of entrepreneurial clients to help them tell their personal stories as it relates to their professional brands. He has three cats, loves bread, and is a pop singer under the name Jame Doe.