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The Art of Digital Story-Telling In Online Marketing

Story-telling in online marketing videos is becoming such an art form, digital executives suggested the organiser of the Sundance Film Festival dedicate a special slot for the media.
And the organisers agreed! Video is having such a phenomenal impact with online consumers the format is now recognised as a creative field in its own right.

The online landscape provides ample opportunities to publish content across multi-channel platforms. But there is little point pursuing a content marketing strategy if you are not publishing material that connects with your audience.

Telling stories has become a trend in advertising. The powerful mediums of video, blogging and a host of social networks build a bridge between company and consumer.

And internet users are devouring content at a phenomenal rate. Studies show that people are spending on average around eight hours a day consuming online content.

On the other hand, there is so much content being published across the internet, what guarantees do you have that end-users will be interested in the stuff you are publishing?

After all, online businesses are essentially faceless corporations. If a consumer does not know who you are, or what you do, why should they care about your brand or products?

The answer is they won’t. You, therefore, have to give your brand a voice, personality, and authority. Introduce yourself to your audience. You do this through the art of story-telling.

Connecting with the audience

The modern online audience is not interested in bland, ordinary content packed with marketing clichés. Everybody is writing the same rubbish and consumers have grown tired of the drivel.

Not only are web users tired, but they have also lost trust in online advertising. Consumers are not interested in another static website, drab social media accounts, or toothless copy.

The modern consumer wants to be entertained, they want to be assured, they want to have confidence when they buy from online businesses. They want content that offers real value.

If you don’t publish content that connects the audience with your brand, you will not earn the trust of your prospects and your online business will fail. This is a common story.

When content is done well however, you stand a better chance of winning over the affections of your audience and building their trust.

The more a consumer knows about the values of your company, how you create solutions and benefit your customers, the more likely they are to purchase from you and remain a loyal customer.

How to create a story in advertising content

Last year, I attended a digital marketing workshop which focused on the art of storytelling in advertising. The room was full of digital marketers – and not one of them knew how to tell a story.

We were asked, “What do you need to tell a good story?”

The answers given by the ensemble were things such as, “a compelling plot, interesting characters, a cohesive storyline.”

As a published fiction writer I knew all of these answers are correct – if you are writing fiction. But marketers do not write fiction. They write facts.

To answer the question of the speaker, I said, “A beginning, middle and an end.” Everybody in the room looked around at me.

“Correct. You need a beginning, a middle and an end.”

A beginning, middle and end create a coherent timeline your audience can easily follow and digest. It’s a cognitive thing.

Professional writers are trained to tell stories. And every story has to include the 5 magic W’s.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why

When you explain something to somebody, the human brain only has the capacity to retain a small amount of information. Typically, we only remember two or three points.

But when you tell a story, the human brain creates imagery that brings the details to life. We then retain more information. The five W’s contain all the small details you need your audience to remember.

Story-telling in videos

Story-telling is one of the oldest art forms on the planet. Ancient civilisations used stories in mythology to help children learn and understand moral codes and the qualities of character you need in life to be a hero.

Thousands of years later, nothing has changed. The human mind still relies on story-telling to learn and understand.

And now we have the visual aid of video, the cognitive function of our brain is able to gather 90% more information.

Video is a powerful medium that enables marketers to engage their audience and increase brand awareness. All you need to do is create video ads that tell compelling stories.

So what makes a great story?

Most companies have a story to tell and you are probably asked about your business adventures all the time. Get a feel for the points that most interest people and include them in your video scripts.

The great advantage of storytelling, is that to make great content, your video ad does not have to feel like an ad. It can take on the appearance of a film trailer.

Before creating content for video, you should first ask yourself what TV shows people mostly watch. The answer is reality TV shows and soap operas. People like watching the lives of other people.

In essence, viewers are interested in things they can relate to. So tell their story. Use your clients, get them to explain what their problems were and how your company found the solution.

There are no barriers to being creative when you have a story to tell with a beginning, middle and end. If you have a strong marketing message and brush in the finer details, you’re almost there.

Remember, connecting with your audience means appealing to their sensibilities, and nothing does that better than a good story. And visual aids of course.

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