Storytelling: A Tale Of Creating Customer Loyalty

Editor’s Note:  The following step-by-step guide to crafting your brand’s message into an epic tale to captivate readers and your target consumer comes from contributor Christina Shepherd McGuire,  a freelance brand strategist and copywriter, who helps companies formulate compelling brand messages. Learn more about McGuire in her bio at the bottom of the page. 

Stellar stories drive emotion. You know the ones. You’re riding up the lift, side by side with strangers, eavesdropping on conversations about big backcountry drops, epic storm cycles and ballsey resort legends. Then you slide off the lift full of a stoke that fuels your top to bottom run.  Storytelling has always been a part of cultural history. While the first oral stories were recited in dark caves around a flickering fire, modern storytellers now use the digital medium to translate narratives poised for social engagement. Storytelling has become an artful way to participate in industry hearsay by promoting brands, businesses, products and services.

What’s in a story?

A story, different from a mere recital of facts, unveils its layers in the form of a plot. The plot often contains an identifiable protagonist, or main character. The reader empathizes with this character as they draw into the narrative, brace the edge of their seat through the climax and work out their emotions as the story resolves. It’s participating in this ride that helps define their values and desires as well as their prejudices and hatreds.  Aligning your story with your audience’s beliefs, needs, makes for a powerful marketing tool. Memorable stories, especially those where the product plays a pivotal role, evoke emotions that translate into sales.

Christina Shepherd McGuire

How does storytelling differ from other marketing strategies?

Typical marketing tactics recite the facts. If you buy product “x” then you’ll get “y”. This pushy, one-dimensional approach leaves no room for inspiration. Companies convey a message over and over again, hoping the concept will stick. However, without meaningful dialogue, readers often forget about the brand with a turn of the page.  Storytelling empowers companies by putting them in the drivers seat. This selfless marketing tactic builds equity in your brand’s image. Relaying athletes’ tales, company tribulations, “a day in the life” anecdotes and underdog accomplishments allows the reader to form a layered connection with the brand. This lasting impression translates into an emotional tie, making storytelling stick.

Understanding the Medium

Your company website is the perfect vehicle for storytelling. It is here that your audience seeks inspiration. But storytelling doesn’t have to consist of lengthy narratives relaying epic adventures. You can tell your stories via captivating images, action-packed videos, short blog posts or social media campaigns.  A blog page, in particular, allows space for your company’s personality to unfold. Incorporate monthly messaging themes that align with your brand essence. Integrate video, art, and photos. Include tips specific to the needs and desires of your target audience. And give shoutouts to other companies, stores, or business that support your manifesto. Anything goes here, so get creative. Then shout your posts from your homepage, encouraging engagement and roping in visitors looking to buy.

The Emotional Connection and Customer Loyalty

Customers scan websites, blogs and social pages looking for brands they can relate to. Subconsciously, it’s an exercise in self-exploration. By forming a connection with your reader, you generate a sharing impulse, further promoting your story. This visitor becomes part of the brand experience as he or she forms an emotional bond with the company. Soon, you have faithful voices relaying your brand message for you. And if they don’t get it exactly right, who cares –the ancient art of storytelling leaves room for details to get lost in translation. But when the basic concept sticks, it starts affecting your bottom line, as buyers plug your message on Facebook, in lift lines and on retail shop floors.

Bio: McGuire specializes in in-bound digital marketing tactics that enhance SEO, drive consumer emotion, encourage sharing, and motivate buying. When she’s not designing brand concepts or crafting styly prose, you can find her snowboarding, mountain biking, wakeboarding or practicing yoga. Check out her online portfolio and blogsite at www.skirtingseason.com or email her at csurfsnow@gmail.com.