How to convert stories into sales
It’s a casual weekday. You are checking the statistics of a recently launched campaign. And wow!!! It is sold out! You couldn’t imagine this result one month before when you didn’t use the power of storytelling in your marketing strategy. Do you want to be this successful entrepreneur?
That’s the power of storytelling. To hook your curiosity, I’ve just used the formula called “future pacing”. The key point of this method is to put the potential outcome as if it has already happened. Increasing sales using a special technique sounds attractive, doesn’t it? And there are a lot of other storytelling techniques to connect the audience. Stay tuned as I will share more on converting the stories into sales.
How storytelling saves marketing budget
We are constantly bombarded with thousands of offers, sponsored posts, banners, and emails. Try to remember how many ads you clicked today or marketing emails you’ve read. It’s most likely your answer is around very few to zero interactions. It’s beyond logic, but it’s true, companies spend enormous budgets to annoy you. Of course, the goal is to sell, but it is what it is.
To make the difference, you need to understand that the world rolls around the customer, he is the central figure of the story. It’s not about how good your product is, it’s about the quality it brings to someone’s life. Imagine, a guy who comes to a party and tells everyone that he is the best dancer in the world. You will take it as boasting. And now let’s put it differently. The guy at the party says he knows how to make you the best dancer in the world.
The mission statement
What your company does is the first in the list of FAQs of any company.
Do you remember any of these long mission statements about consistency, tech innovations, and providing high-end solutions some companies put on their websites? Honestly, I don’t. It’s not clear why I need their services and how they are going to make my life easier.
There is an engaging way to explain the mission statement. For example, Harley Davidson believed that freedom is exhilarating. He doesn’t sell motorcycles; he offers people to have a more exciting life. Same as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz doesn’t sell coffee, he sells “third place” between work and home. No matter your attitude towards coffee and motorcycles, I believe you know these brands.
We want the audience to feel the mission and to connect on an emotional level. Explaining how your product makes people strive and why you do what you do helps to build a strong connection and trust.
How to structure a brand story
According to Aristotle, a story must have a set up, build and pay off. The three-part story structure is as old as time and applies to everything from movies to social media copy. Let’s take a closer look at how it is implemented as a brand content strategy.
The beginning. Explain the problem that you set out to solve. The audience easily relates when it goes about the experiences they face personally.
The middle. Describe how you solved the question with your products and services. It should be as clear as possible. Make the story easy to follow. Don’t overcharge the audience with long tricky explanations and complex terminology. “People don’t buy the best products; they buy the products they can understand the fastest.” claims storytelling expert Donald Miller. The human brain works the way it tries to save as much energy as possible. That’s why we are so easily dragged into consuming useless TikTok videos, while complex scientific content is much harder to follow.
The end. This part is about how you want your customer to feel. Tell about the success your solution produced. Storytelling experts also call it “happily ever after”.
We are not selling goods; we are selling experiences and emotions
That’s why the communication strategy is set to reach emotions rather than reason and logic. I used to work with a judge of a popular culinary show on the launch of his culinary school. He had a strong personal brand and was known for being a passionate chef, unapologetic about any imperfection. I remember spending an hour choosing the proper ribbon for a present to the winner of the giveaway. That was in the heat of launching the project when we worked non-stop. That’s what I mean by talking about perfectionism. His impeccable image worked perfectly for the show. His sharp and ironic way to speak won him a lot of fans. But how would you feel about being his student? In addition, the masterclasses were on haute cuisine, which is scary to approach itself.
“Culinary arts is not for amateurs”, that was the belief we were to destroy. The campaign copy started with the recognition that it seemed impossible to prepare restaurant dishes at home. The solution we offered was master-classes from the best industry experts. “Haute cuisine at your kitchen” – the success our customers celebrated. We turned the not-for-all skills set into an approachable and fun experience. The outcome of the campaign looked like a long waiting list of culinary lovers hungry to learn with us.
There is no story without conflict
We got personally connected to people who tell impactful stories and tend to memorize them twenty times better than the general information. A great story is a roller coaster. It takes us through the ups and downs of the hero’s journey. And it has a conflict. In brand storytelling, it can be an experience of overcoming an obstacle with the help of your service, for example.
Recently I’ve had to present myself at an event for entrepreneurs. To connect with the other participants I’ve shared how I was constantly doing the job of art director for photographer’s rate. Being underpaid is a personal conflict many can relate to. The release came up as an idea of the launching of a visual storytelling company. This way my expertise comes in handy and helps companies to improve their communication.
Call to action
The pitch is perfect when it’s finished with the invitation to join the experience. In fact, the entire story was created to turn the audience into customers. The call to action should be clear and easy to follow. You don’t want the client to give up on the final step simply because the purchase process is a mess. It happened to me a few days ago. I’ve been using a free version of one fitness app for years. After completing their challenge, I was so happy about the results that I wanted to continue with their coach. I still haven’t joined simply because I gave up on finding the price for this service.
The images that stand out create the change.
Coming back to the culinary school experience, we wanted to stay away from this popular image of a smiling chef carrying the plate. We built our campaign around the playful approach to food. Samurai-like chef armed with the whisks, cook breaking baguette as if it was a wooden block, chef juggling muffins – these were the posters of the school. Along with the copy, it hit the target. We didn’t have to boost any post of the campaign as organic reach was enormous.
Show, don’t tell
The first rule of visual storytelling says “show, don’t tell”. Narrative built around the action is universal and some marvelous stories are told with no word. Ideally, you should be able to understand the context even if you don’t speak the language or the sound is muted. This rule that came from moviemaking applies to any visual form, from corporate video to Instagram story.
Type of the content varies for different platforms, but in general, moving images attract more interaction than stills. The editing style for social platforms is very dynamic and there are many tricks for catching attention. However, it doesn’t substitute the story. As an active Instagram user, I watch a lot of sponsored posts during the day. If you ask me to tell you what they are about, my memory stays blank. The flaw of many Instagram videos is they are created with no message in mind.
Use visuals to show what is special about the brand, the backstage of the process, and the team behind the service. Giving this sense of being approachable helps to create a stronger connection. In social media, users prefer to see natural lifestyle images over polished commercials.
As an outstanding example, I’d like to tell you about an independent fragrance brand that I fell in love with. Selling perfumes online is a challenging task, especially when you have a shop in a particular city while selling internationally. What is so special about this brand? They build very strong imagery showing what is in the bottle. They hit my heart with the promotion showing how a few hundred roses that grow in a certain region of France are picked to become one gram of the perfume. I saved this simply shot commercial to my favorites and can’t wait to purchase the entire set of their fragrances.
That’s what I mean by saying that powerful storytelling converts into sales.