Narratives are one of the most influential and persuasive approaches to marketing. It is all about selling yourself, your business or your product through a story. As years go by, marketing strategies change, yet the impact of this age-old method continues to work across industries large and small.
Why is that?
As human’s we think in terms of narratives and metaphors. Professor of Marketing at Stanford University, Jennifer Aaker, disclosed a recent study in a video called Persuasion and the Power of Story where students had to win their class over with a one-minute marketing pitch. Ninety percent of students used an average of two-and-a-half statistics where only ten percent used an emotionally provocative story to convince their audience.
Ten minutes later, the researcher asked students to pull out both pen and paper and write down everything they remembered. The results were outstanding.
- 63% of students recalled the story
- 5% recalled the statistics
We’re assuming the remaining 32% slept through the presentation and didn’t remember anything. However, this study just goes to show how powerful narratives are. As humans we are wired to think in terms of stories and metaphors. From legend and lore to non-profits and crowdfunding, our decisions and perspectives are heavily influenced by the sway of a good story.
The key to a narrative is to evoke an emotional response that leads to a decisive action. There are several ways to go about this, but there are a few common formulas that have proven to be successful time, and time again.
Everybody loves an underdog. When a man or woman rises against improbable odds to achieve something great, we feel connected to their success and it charges us to support that person while believing that we have it within ourselves to do the same.
A great examples is Jan Koum, the founder and creator of WhatsApp. A Ukraine native, Koum escaped his home country and moved with his mother to America where they faced the hardships of poverty in attempt to carve out a better life. Forbes describes his story as a “Rags-to-Riches Tale,” which hit the masses when he signed a $19 billion dollar deal with Facebook.
The story spread like a wildfire, gaining interest in the application as people learned of its founder’s origins. Within a year WhatsApp became the most popular global messaging application in the world as it exceeded 600 million active users.
Rallying for a Cause
People are willing to pay extra if they believe in what you’re doing. The non-profit To Write Love On Her Arms is an excellent example. It began with a story printed on the back of t-shirts in an effort to raise money to pay for one young woman’s rehabilitation, yet as its story spread via MySpace and a word of mouth movement within the music scene, it grew into a non-profit dedicated to providing hope and help for those struggling with addiction, self-injury and suicide.
Humor spreads faster than you can type the word “trend.” With today’s ability to like, share and send, a good punchline can go a long way in profit and exposure. Just ask “Potato Salad Guy,” Zach Brown.
Brown started a crowdfunding project on Kickstarter where he aimed to raise ten dollars to make his very first potato salad. The campaign resulted in over $61,000 from more than 6,000 backers, all in the name of a good ol’ bowl of potato salad.
Amazing, isn’t it?
Then there’s the shock factor. Tell a story that will get people talking and you’ll get your message trending fast. The latest (devastating) example is the separation of America’s beloved muppets, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. The awful news struck the media on August 4, 2015 when an announcement was made on Kermit and Piggy’s Facebook accounts. The news swept across the media within minutes, rocking the nation as their story was featured across major news outlets such as CNN.
This story, although clearly orchestrated by a clever team of writers, gained the attention of an entire nation just in time for The Muppets’ debut on ABC the following Tuesday. Can you guess how many people will be tuning in? With over 50,000 shares on social media alone, you can safely guess the audience will be substantial.
So what’s your story? How will you tell it? You may not be a Muppet or have a taste for potato salad, but here at iPartnerMedia we know that everyone has a story worth sharing. We specialize in every form of marketing, including content development. So if you’re looking for help, why not contact us?