Storytelling is Key to your Long Term Growth
Ecommerce Strategy, Revenue Growth
How many times have you seen the iPod marketing phrase “10,000 songs in your pocket”?
If you have worked within an inch of marketing in your life, you’ve probably seen it a lot; maybe to the point where you can recite it from memory. That is the art of brand and storytelling.
The vast majority of consumers have never been won over by lists of product details. They’re won over by the feeling they get when they think about your brand or product and story is the only way to effectively incite emotion.
Here’s some context as to why this is important.
1. Our brains are programmed to remember stories. We have evolved over many centuries but a core part of human nature and culture has been the telling and retelling of stories; stories which we still remember.
2. Shorter attention spans online and an increase in advertising competition has meant that brands need to work harder to stand out. Products may be similar but stories can help you break through the noise.
3. Audiences want to feel part of the brands they are buying from and the only way to do this is to include them in your stories. Some of the biggest brands over the past few years ie. Gymshark, Liquid Death, Playstation are fueled by fandom. Not consumers, fans.
4. There is hard evidence that brand building has better long term advantages than running sales activation ads. (We’ve already touched upon this topic when we discussed the disadvantages of relying on promotions. But let us quickly recap.)
Binet and Field conducted research comparing the effectiveness of brand building advertising against sales activation focused advertising. What was seen was that, although sales activation ads reaped short term positive results, over the course of time, had no effect to overall business growth. With a steep incline in revenue came an equally steep decline after those ads fatigued.
For brand led strategies, the trajectory was slower but, over time, reaped a far better and more stable reward.
The Drum in partnership with Amazon Ads recently stated that 79% marketers will prioritise brand storytelling in the next 12 months as they believe it will positively impact their marketing campaigns performance.
That’s all well and good but…
What does an effective brand building strategy look like?
Well it looks a lot like our Revenue Growth Framework.
Discover, Build, Storytell, Sell.
Our Discover phase is all about learning. Audience understanding is absolutely key in being able to successfully execute the rest of the framework so that’s where we start. Understanding of your audience means that you can start to create empathy within your storytelling and reach them on a deeper level emotionally. Which emotion you choose to focus on will depend on your audience. And that is why understanding them is so important.
Learn as much as you can about your current audience and the segments which bring the most value. Think about their likes, dislikes, where they are spending their time online and if you can, the other content they might be consuming.
To successfully build awareness you need your story to appear where your audience are already spending their time. This means choosing the right channels and tailoring your creative to resonate on each platform.
The key is creating a consistent story wherever your audience may be.
The aim in this stage is not to sell. The aim is to introduce your brand, engage with the audience and start building a relationship with them. And what’s the best way to build a relationship? Through shared stories and connecting with emotions.
We dedicate and entire stage to Storytelling because ultimately, without this, you’ll struggle to grow.
The previous Build phase is all about sending invites out to your brand party. You’ve chosen an audience and sent them a great invitation that explains who you are and why you’d love them to attend. The Storytelling is what happens at the party. Its how you, as a host, greet your guests, what the music, food and other company is like, it’s about creating an unforgettable experience that makes the audience feel like they are an important part of the party. Metaphors aside, having a consistent compelling and emotion led story at the heart of your advertising at every point of the customer journey will be the only way to succeed as ecommerce develops.
Selling as a last resort
By this point, you should have a highly engaged audience ready and waiting to buy from you. So at this point, we’ll allow some sales focused ads. Catalogue Ads, Shopping and product focused ads should only really be used as the final tipping point on the path to purchase. Promotions should be used as a reward, not as an acquisition tool and if you’ve done the first 3 stages right, your audience should see the value of your product enough to always pay full price.
These sales ads capture users who are actively seeking your product and are ready to buy right now; whether they have been exposed to your story or not.
The point of our framework and of harnessing storytelling is not to capture these people who will buy regardless; it's to create demand for your products, improve brand recall and reputation, decrease price sensitivity and set your brand up for long term, stable incremental revenue growth which is scalable as your brand grows.