What do an animation studio, a car company, and a retail store have in common? All use the power of storytelling to promote their brand and connect with consumers. Marketing guru and popular author of 17 books, Seth Godin, once said: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
But what does an engaging story looks like? Let’s explore the keen insights from Seth Godin together.
- A great story is rarely aimed at everyone; instead, it focuses on a niche segment.
If you want to create a story to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. This is because there are so much variety, there is no “average” target to reach a general population. The most engaging stories match the view of a tiny audience—and then that tiny audience spreads the story.
- A great story must be real.
This doesn’t mean a story must be based on fact or a real event, it means a story needs consistency and authenticity. Consumers are good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a brand to get away with a story that’s just slapped on.
- A great story is trusted.
Consumers typically don’t trust the spokespeople and celebrities on commercials, because the brands were paying them to say so. As a result, no marketer succeeds in telling a story unless he/her has earned the credibility to tell that story. Therefore, some brands choose to tell a story through the lens of the average person for the sake of being more relatable to customers.
- A great story is subtle.
Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful and convincing the story becomes. The marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusion is far more effective than announcing “buy our stuff!” as the punch line.
SK-II, an international skincare brand originated from Japan, recently took over the Internet and social media in Asia Pacific with its ad campaign aiming at the so-called “leftover woman” phenomenon. The terminology of “leftover woman” refers to women who aren’t married and are treated shamefully by their families, after age 25. The film shows the pressure and self-denial these women face from their parents and society. Then, they decided to stand up for themselves and change their own destinies.
The campaign was a huge success because it incorporates the key elements of compelling storytelling:
- It targets a niche audience – women who are under pressure because they are still single after age 25.
- The film includes real women and their parents, showing raw emotion and real conversations between them, so viewers perceived it as genuine.
- By collecting a variety of opinions on this topic, the film earns trust by showing more than one side to the story..
- Lastly, SK-II did not sell its products directly in this ad, instead, the brand resonates to potential customers by sharing the philosophy behind the brand.