Storytelling is one of the most critical skills that a marketer can have. This is because it contextualises a product and allows them to give consumers an insight into what their life could look like with that product in it. Whereas a salesperson can sell a consumer a house, a marketer can give them a home.

But, as marketers now also operate in the digital sphere, they are challenged with altering their narrative style accordingly. This is because consumers have outgrown the traditional methods that marketers have come to know.

So, if you are a marketer who is wondering how to rewrite your narrative, media update’s Lara Smit is here to help you ace storytelling in the digital space.

1. Be an authentic narrator

Victoria Oakes, Microsoft UK's storytelling and digital destinations, states that digital marketing tends to place too much focus on commercial objectives. In fact, Oakes adds that 71% of readers find content resembling a sales pitch off-putting. Why, you ask?

Well, when content is too salesy, it reveals an agenda to readers, which makes them feel somewhat targeted and manipulated into buying a brand’s product. (This leaves a bad taste in the mouths of modern consumers who seek more meaning with their purchases.)

Speaking of feeling targeted, another off-putting aspect of digital marketing is that its tactics often rely on data gathered about target audiences that are based on their online activities. Although technology like HTTP cookies helps brands to find the right audiences for their products and services, tactics like this make many consumers feel as though their privacy has been invaded (being watched is not at all as romantic here as that song by The Police makes it out to be).

Besides the product pushing that we see online, the spread of false information using digital mediums has also created a general distrust in what people read on the Internet. So, more often than not, digital marketing is seen in a negative light.

But how do you become a digital storyteller that can get into the good books of audiences?

The key to authentic online storytelling is to place less focus on your brand’s product or service. Instead, use your digital marketing campaigns to communicate your brand’s values to audiences using a clear voice. Essentially, you have to show consumers that your brand is more than just its products.

Additionally, as a storyteller, you are tasked with creating meaning behind a product and telling consumers how investing in it will add value to their lives. This can be done by creating anecdotes that will allow your audiences to relate and, consequently, connect with your business (before they’ve even looked at the product). Therefore, you give them a story that is worth buying into without explicitly telling them about your product. Ingenious, right?

2. Immerse consumers into your stories

As with any story, you need a hero. But, a misconception that many marketers have is that their brand should be the hero of the narrative. Contrary to what they believe, the real hero in the story should always be the consumer. Your brand is simply a tool that the hero can use to solve a problem.

By making your stories customer-centric, they will always involve the consumer, making them more accessible and engageable for your audience. Therefore, when using this approach, you need to:

  • become attuned to the needs of the consumer
  • create a story that addresses these needs, and
  • then give them the tools to meet them.

A unique way that digital marketers can get audiences involved in their brand story is by physically immersing them in this narrative using VR. This allows your brand’s story to come to life in the eyes of the consumer while placing it in their control through self-directed experiences.

By using VR in this way, consumers are directly engaged in experiences that are linked to the brand — connecting them in deeper and more authentic ways. This is because consumers don’t just get to learn about the brand or offering; they create emotional ties with it through what they feel are genuine encounters.

Additionally, VR experiences allow consumers to make their own choices in a gamified context. This, in turn, gives them a sense of control and takes away any feelings of manipulation when it comes to purchasing a brand’s product.

3. Make it slim and trim

The introduction of digital mediums has definitely created a lot of communication shortcuts. Messages can be typed, recorded, uploaded, sent and downloaded in a matter of minutes — sometimes even seconds.

This fast-paced manner of communicating has directly affected the communication methods of a digital society — one that prefers its messages clean-cut (yessiree, fluff-free).

So, although consumers want the meaning behind a brand or a product to be a bit meatier, they want digital storytellers to slice off the fatty bits (while still retaining all the flavour). Essentially, this means that digital marketers are challenged with creating content that is short but still sweet enough to intrigue their audience.

So, how can digital storytellers become titans of these tiny little tales?

Ask yourself what you would like to achieve with your story and, once you have a clear goal in mind, stick to it.

Another trick to keeping your content short and sweet is by making sure your anecdote is understandable and clear enough so that it does not require further explanation. Therefore, once you have given your anecdote, you don’t need to use more time or character space to make consumers get it. If further explanation is necessary, your anecdote simply isn’t relatable enough.

How do you think marketers can become ideal digital storytellers? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Do you want to find out more about becoming the ultimate marketer? Then be sure to read our article about how All great marketers are excellent storytellers.
*Image courtesy of Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels