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Wuraola Ademola-Shanu: 5 Storytelling Techniques to Help Create Better Brand Messaging

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Every brand has a story to tell (whether about its existence, the rationale behind creating a product… It could be anything). The only difference is that some brands are better at telling theirs than others. Learning to tell yours well can better position your brand in its industry and make you outrank your competitors.

Here are five storytelling techniques that can help you craft the story your audience needs to hear:

Put Your Audience First

Basically, your audience is the story. They’re the celebrities in your business; you’re just a supporting player. So, before you do anything else, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they need?
  • How can I help them?

You have to dig deeper and go beyond the surface to unravel the authentic answers to the questions above. For example, if you’re in real estate, don’t just say you’re targeting first-time home-buyers who need an agent – and then you happen to be an agent. That’s obvious!

Rather, bring your audience to life by developing buyer personas. Consider who the buyer is, both at work and at home. Think about their daily struggles. Then, identify the particular pain points that your products and services can remedy. Once you understand your audience, it’s much easier to identify the role you will play in their story.

Here’s an example: Say you’re targeting Adejoke, a millennial. She’s finished her degree, got her first real job and is ready to move out on her own. She’d love to buy, but she’s understandably hesitant because she’s just got a job and there are other expenses by the side. To her, a home is an investment, and she’s willing to wait for the right opportunity. Right now, she just needs someone to help her find it.

Give Your Story a Beginning, Middle and an End

When crafting a story, think of it as a three-scene play. Act One introduces the hero, Act Two introduces the conflict, and Act Three resolves it. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

Here’s a quick example:

Scene One — We meet Bella. She runs a virtual assistant business. Business is good, but it could be better. Bella doesn’t know much about email marketing, but she decides to purchase an email list so she can reach new prospects.

Scene Two — Bella’s in trouble. Sending to her purchased list violated her email service provider’s terms of service, so her account has been suspended. Not only has she lost money on a list she can’t use, but now she can’t even email her permission-based clients.

Scene Three — Bella hires a reputable marketing automation firm to handle lead generation for her. While it takes a few months, Bella begins to see an increase in return customers, thanks to her new email newsletter strategy, and she’s noticed people sharing her content on Instagram.

Though this example speaks directly to those in the virtual assistance industry, it’s a similar situation in other service industries as well. Many small business owners can’t quite get a handle on email marketing, so they can relate to Bella’s struggle and feel good about the eventual resolution.

Keep It Real and Simple

Remember that you’re telling a story, and not delivering a sales pitch. If all you do is discuss how badass you and your products/services are, you’ll end up irritating your audience and turning them away in droves.

An alluring story is conversational and engaging. It can bring people together, but only when it’s genuine. To capture the imagination of your audience and lay the groundwork for long-term relationships, keep your message authentic. Honesty is always appreciated.

Learn to Speak the Lingo

Good storytelling means zilch if your audience doesn’t get it. And what works for Adejoke – the Millennial won’t necessarily work for Madam Kofo – the Boomer.

If you want to grab your audience’s attention and keep them stuck to your page, you have to speak their language. This means finding the most appropriate voice, tone and style to suit your demographic’s expectations.

Don’t Be Afraid to Change the Narrative

A compelling story should evolve over time. Whether that means updating a few minor details, writing a new chapter or overhauling it totally, you have to do what’s best for your story, your brand and — most importantly — your audience. Remember that your business isn’t about you.

Storytelling is the perfect tool for engaging your audience, nurturing relationships and creating brand advocates. However, it can be a lot of work. Using the above storytelling techniques will help your business to focus on its marketing efforts and tell a consistent, compelling story.

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