Is storytelling the missing link between brands, engagement and conversion?

By Barb Mosher Zinck November 26, 2019

I’ve written a lot about storytelling lately, looking for a way to take this buzzword and put substance behind it. My latest conversation helps, but also opens the door for more questions around what storytelling can do for customer experience beyond marketing.

I spoke with Ryan Taft, CEO of the startup, STORYSOFT, a digital storytelling platform. Taft has spent the last fifteen years in marketing, a lot of that on the agency side, but also in the startup world.

Not only does he understand marketing, but he also understands technology, and as the founder of a marketing technology company, it’s critical to be able to speak to both sides of the house.

We discussed everything from how to do storytelling the right way to how stories support Sales and Customer Service as much as they support marketing. And, of course, we talked about his new startup and how his company wants to bring storytelling to every channel (the podcast is embedded below).

On storytelling in marketing

You can’t have a conversation with a marketer without discussing storytelling. As Taft says:

I think as marketers, we’ve been telling stories since the beginning of marketing. It’s just taken a different form over the years. And, so why I think it’s coming back is because stories are the most powerful form of content.

In the last ten years, everybody’s been riding the content marketing wave. But a lot of that content now has become saturated, right? Reach has been commoditized with tools like mobile and social media, and we’re inundating consumers with content, but that content is historically focused on the what – what my product does, what features it offers, what it costs.

Taft said that consumers now want to understand the how and the why – why should I buy from you? How are you different? How does using your product make me feel? This is where storytelling can help. Like everything, though, there is a scale of effectiveness.

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A lot of people are talking about telling stories, but they’re doing it utilizing traditional media, and they’re not going deep on the emotion side of it. I think that’s where you get the real value, when you’re able to evoke emotion, create empathy with your audience so that they can see themselves within your story.

Taft makes a good point, so I asked if there was a strategy or a series of steps that a brand would take to put themselves in that right mindset.

There is a proven storytelling framework, and it’s very similar to the storytelling framework when you are writing fiction. In marketing, we talk about the hero’s journey all the time. The first thing you have to do, said Taft, is to resonate, create empathy.

You have to identify with your audience and understand what challenges are they going through, what are their core values, and which ones which of those core values align to your brand’s core values. You need to manifest that at the beginning of the story so that you get people to say, this brand’s like me, or this character is going through a similar challenge that I’m going through, I’ll give them my attention for just a little bit longer.

Taft said to think in terms of conversion rates at each point in the story. You have to think about how your story is moving a customer forward all the time.

There’s a great book. It’s called Storynomics. And it talks about the open mind moment. It’s that “aha” moment when everything within a story kind of comes together. And at that instant, there’s actually been studies done on the brain where the mind is open to any messages that are planted at that time for about; I think it’s five to eight seconds.

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On marketing in the healthcare industry

Much of Taft’s experience is with healthcare and financial services, and I asked him how different it is to do marketing in these industries compared to technology and other similar industries.

Healthcare, financial services, industries like that, they’re highly regulated. If you are an innovator and you want to bring new ideas, new technologies to the space, it takes a very different effort, working with different stakeholders from the regulatory side of the house to their marketing team to the agencies that they work with. You have to make sure that everybody’s on the same page and understands how we can bring about innovation while reducing our exposure, our risk.

Taft said that healthcare has typically been ten to fifteen years behind, but things are changing. He pointed to Novartis bringing in a Head of Digital from outside healthcare, something that would never have happened a few years ago. There are signs they are leveraging consumer insights and bringing that thinking into the healthcare space, Taft said.

I think one of the big things that we see across all industries, but specifically health and healthcare is how to use data in a compliant way to create these frictionless customer experiences, whether that’s for a patient, whether that’s for a healthcare provider, a representative. They’re trying to find ways to leverage the right tools to do what everybody’s trying to do right now, which is to break through the noise, break through the clutter and help their brand stand out.

Read More Here: https://diginomica.com/storytelling-missing-link-between-brands-engagement-and-conversion-storysoft-thinks-so

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