Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

Brand Storytelling: Winning Business by Making Your Customer the Hero

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

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These days, you can find any information you could want online. Thanks to Google, instant gratification has become a daily feature in our lives. What has become more rare, however, is human connection.

That’s why connecting with consumers more deeply as human beings has become more effective. It’s not enough anymore to simply share the logical reasons why your brand has something special to offer. To cut through the noise of today’s oversaturated markets, you also need to weave emotion and empathy into a narrative that captures and holds their attention.

Why a narrative?

  • Storytelling has been shown to increase oxytocin production in the brain, which encourages people to feel more empathetic and willing to participate in a shared, cooperative experience.
  • Audiences naturally engage more with emotions, ideas, and values over products and services.
  • A memorable brand story gives consumers a stronger impression of who you are and what you stand for, ideals that are more likely to inspire loyalty.

Storytelling is always at the core of what we do for our clients, and we’re passionate about helping organizations realize the power of its impact. Below, you’ll learn more about the neurological impact of storytelling on the human brain, the basics of brand storytelling structure, and how positioning your customer as the hero positions you to win more business.

Why Our Brains Love Brand Storytelling

Recent scientific studies show that storytelling has a measurable impact on the brain, particularly the synthesis of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” as it can be released by things like touch, music, and exercise, which produce feelings of well-being.

“Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others,” says Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and a professor of economics, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University. “We found that character-driven stories do consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Further, the amount released by the brain predicted how much people were willing to help others.”

Zak’s team has also gotten insight into what makes stories effective at spurring oxytocin production, finding that a story must first grab and hold the audience’s attention by creating tension. When the characters experience tension, the audience’s ability to empathize and get transported into the story increases. If you’ve ever felt like working out or taking a karate class after watching an action flick, this is why. This may be because our attention to the story at hand sharpens as more tension arises. Our senses heighten as we get swept more and more into the story, imagining ourselves in the hero’s place.

If you can present your consumers with a story that places them in the center of the narrative as the hero triumphing over daunting obstacles to achieve their goals, you can capture their attention and empathy. You’ll have the opportunity to show them (not tell them) how you can help them defeat their villains and change their lives for the better.

Brand Storytelling Structure

Another reason storytelling is so effective is that it helps our brains organize information in a way that’s easy to understand. Stories put everything in order to prevent the audience from getting confused and tuning us out.

Because effective storytelling has been studied and practiced for thousands of years, it can be distilled down into a definable and repeatable structure. This structure is highly effective at helping brands simplify their message and use their opportunity to communicate with the audience to its fullest potential.

In Building A StoryBrand, Donald Miller identifies seven essential parts to storytelling:

“A character who wants something encounters a problem before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a guide steps into their lives, gives them a plan, and calls them to action. That action helps them avoid failure and ends in a success.”

Miller says that customers are most interested in how your brand will help them to survive and thrive. Once you understand their needs, desires, problems, fears, and goals, you can place them in the center of this storytelling structure as the hero conquering their foes with you by their side as a trusted expert and guide. Just remember — they are the hero, not your brand!

Using Brand Storytelling To Win Business

People want to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, and helping them do that is a vital way to cut through the noise and differentiate your brand. By focusing on their goals rather than your own, you position your brand as a wise guide that can help them overcome their challenges and thrive.

Once you’ve identified your ideal customer/main character, you need to define the problems they need your help solving. Focus on internal problems, the kind that keep your audience up at night — the primary villain, the dragon they need to slay. In what concrete ways do these problems present themselves in daily life? How does it nag at them mentally throughout the day?

As their empathetic and authoritative guide, you should be able to articulate how your brand can help them vanquish their villain. That means you’ll need to present yourself as wise, showing your expertise through case studies and testimonials to demonstrate how you’ve helped others. You’ll also need to show empathy and that you thoroughly understand their challenges.

Now that they’ve got a trusted guide on their side, they need a plan of attack. That’s where calls to action come into play. Don’t be coy — tell your audience exactly what they should do to fight their villain and come out on top. Articulate how this action will help them to achieve success and avoid failure, transforming them from the striving hero to the ultimate champion.

Unleash Your Inner Yoda

Do you want to unleash your brand’s inner Yoda, guiding customers toward their Luke Skywalker moment? Learn more about storytelling in our free guide to narrative marketing, where you’ll find a full breakdown of each step from StoryBrand.

About the Author

Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content. 

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

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How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders for Your Content Marketing Strategy

&Marketing, and marketing, outsourced marketing strategy

Written By

Your content marketing strategy is vital to your organization’s overall success, so getting buy-in from stakeholders outside the marketing department is crucial to keep everyone aligned toward business goals. When everyone puts their heads together to provide input into the new plan, fresh perspectives and ideas are uncovered to make the strategy work better for each department.

We’ve spent years discovering the most effective approaches to get buy-in from stakeholders, so we combined our knowledge to create this guide. Keep reading to discover our 3-step process to winning your entire organization over to your brilliant new content marketing strategy.

Why Does Getting Buy-In From Stakeholders Matter?

There are many reasons why getting buy-in from stakeholders for your content marketing strategy is a step that should always be remembered. It may take hard work and patience, but it’s worth it — when everyone is aligned on a strategy:

  • Non-marketing employees feel more invested and engaged in the marketing department’s activities and are often more willing to contribute to efforts as subject matter experts.
  • It becomes easier for your business to develop its brand identity and present a strong, clear impression of it to the market.
  • The long-term success of the strategy improves with greater internal support.
  • Project planning becomes easier because everyone is aligned on priorities.

How To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders in 3 Steps

Marketing is constantly evolving, so you must be strategic about getting buy-in when you propose changes to your strategy. Leadership especially wants to be reassured that any changes are highly likely to deliver results, so you’ll need to come prepared with plenty of data — but that’s not all:

1. Determine who your stakeholders are. Focus on their concerns and priorities.

Map out how various departments interact with or may be impacted by your strategy. Examples may include outside sales, customer service, IT, and others. Start thinking about their responsibilities, needs, and possible objections. What will you need from them, and how can you ease the burden on them to provide that?

Depending on your organization’s size, it might be worthwhile to have a different session with each department. This can help you avoid bogging anyone down with extra information irrelevant to them, tailor your presentation more closely to your audience, and provide them with individual attention.

When it comes to getting leadership buy-in, ensure you understand what metrics leaders are most interested in improving and can demonstrate how your plan will help move the needle toward the company’s goals.

2. Lead with transparency: be clear about what you want.

Make sure everyone knows the purpose of each meeting beforehand, so stakeholders know what to expect. Don’t wait until the end of the session to finally get to the ask — tell stakeholders what you want from them at the beginning, then provide a clear explanation of why they should agree.

Set a baseline by explaining how things are currently done and where there’s room for improvement. This is an excellent opportunity to incorporate data showing where your current strategy could improve.

Pro tip: don’t just rattle off facts. Storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool — don’t just use it in your content marketing strategy. Use it to create an engaging and impactful presentation that pulls your stakeholders in just as you would a customer.

3. Prove your claims and call on them to act.

Once you’ve captured your audience’s attention and imagination, appeal to their logical side by providing data to give your proposal more legitimacy. Make sure it’s easy to understand and leads to a clear conclusion. Share examples of other organizations that have seen success with similar strategies. Most stakeholders don’t want to be the first to try a new tactic, but if they can see that others have succeeded, they’ll feel more comfortable giving it a try.

Clearly describe the benefits of your plan. A strong content marketing strategy makes customers feel more comfortable interacting with you because they’ve come to you. It also often costs significantly less than outbound marketing strategies while netting higher quality leads and improving visibility online. Make sure your audience also clearly understands any benefits specific to their department or goals, and make a clear and concise ask for exactly what you want them to do next to support your plan.

Overcoming Obstacles To Get Buy-In From Stakeholders

Sometimes there are factors beyond your control influencing stakeholder decisions. For example, if you’ve just joined the company, your peers and leadership might not have had enough time to get to know and trust your expertise. While it can be frustrating, it is understandable, and there are ways to help stakeholders warm up to your ideas even if they haven’t yet warmed up to you. For example, consulting with an outside expert, someone likely to be trusted and respected, can be valuable in helping to reinforce your claims.

If your plan requires marketing skills you don’t currently have and you aren’t ready to make a significant investment in headcount, you can outsource key roles. It’s common to do this for tactical roles like website design or content creation, but you can also hire part-time executive-level content marketing help in the form of a Fractional Content Marketing Officer, or fCMO. An fCMO can lead your team in both strategy and execution of your content marketing strategy without the high overhead of adding another full-time member to your C-suite.

How To Measure the Short-Term Success of Your Content Marketing

Content marketing is ultimately a long-term strategy, but stakeholders are often interested in hearing about short-term results whenever possible. At the outset of your plan, establish your baseline to measure against. Short-term goals to track include social media interactions (likes, shares, mentions, followers), backlinks, and leads and conversions. Search engine traffic will take longer to rise, but with a baseline, you’ll be able to see any quick bumps if they do happen.

Get Help Telling Your Story

Whether you need help creating an impactful story for stakeholders or customers, we’ve got a roadmap for you. To help you successfully lead your hero down the path to their own happily ever after, &Marketing has broken down Donald Miller’s StoryBrand roadmap into easily digestible bites. Download our free guide to narrative marketing for a simple breakdown of each step.

About the Author

Content Specialist Kim Steinmetz helps brands and thought leaders discover and develop their unique voice and tone while establishing authority on a topic through compelling messaging and copywriting. An accomplished writer and marketer with over a decade of experience, Kim is well-versed in both B2C and B2B content. 

About &Marketing

&Marketing provides the robust outsourced marketing department growing companies need without the high overhead costs of big agencies or full-time employees. Our variable model empowers businesses to reach their growth goals through access to the guidance and expertise of senior level strategists and a flexible execution team.

Are you facing challenges of your own in generating leads and meeting your business’ growth goals?

We’d love to learn more about your challenges and how a coordinated marketing approach might help take your organization to the next level.

Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Insights

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You know the numbers—roughly 50% of businesses don’t make it past five years and only 20% make it to 20 years. In today’s competitive business landscape, a strong brand and a clear message are crucial for success. In a business landscape where strategic marketing is a...

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In April, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Conference—an experience I'm deeply grateful for. Attending such an event is a rarity for me, and I was eager to absorb as much knowledge as possible to bring back to my...

Innovative Marketing Strategies Benefit Startups & SMEs

Today’s competitive landscape requires startups and small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to think beyond traditional marketing tactics. Innovative marketing strategies are the key to breaking through the noise and reaching audiences in fresh, impactful ways. Let’s...