The most powerful marketing grows from simple ideas. Especially psychological tricks – and storytelling is as good as they come. From our early childhood, we are told stories and we tell stories. Through stories, we understand the world around us and the world inside us. You’ve probably learned some of the core moral values that drive you today from stories.
But in the world where brands forget this, hearing an honest and personal story is a breath of fresh air. Stories allow your customers to engage with you, to relate to you and to better understand your brand personality and mission. They invest emotionally. Sales emails might work. But reading a story about one of your favorite brands makes you trust them more.
So, how to write your story properly?
Here is our guide:
Start at the Beginning
Everyone loves a good origin story. It’s what makes your readers realize that there is a person behind the brand – the person who worked hard did their best, failed and got back up again and repeated all of this until they arrived to where they are right now.
You will become instantly relatable. Just another human being speaking. Not a brand, not someone rich and above it all – but a person with flaws and virtues, bad habits and missteps just like we all are, in essence.
So, one of the best things you can do for your business is to start your storytelling journey at the beginning. You can even go as far as your childhood. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Where did your business idea come from? Did you have any help? What were your goals then? Where did you fail?
All of this means a lot to your audience.
Of course, you don’t have to go too much into detail about your childhood – you don’t want to bore them with “this one time in band camp” stories. But a quick mention in a sentence or two is a good idea that will help your audience understand you better.
Don’t be Afraid to be Human
Brands usually like to stay up there where no one can reach them. But this is a wrong approach to marketing and branding in general. What you need to do instead is get off your high horse and get familiar with your audience.
People relate well to other people. So, be human. Show them how you’ve made a mistake, how you embarrassed yourself, how you struggled. Speak in a regular, casual tone that your audience’s best friends would speak in.
This might also mean that you will have to reveal some of the things that you would rather not. But, pick a few things from your past that would be easy to relate to. For example, you tripped and fell before the big meeting. You missed an important phone call and regretted it for a long time.
These are the things that will spark your audience’s interest and make them feel like they know you. What’s more, they will share these stories with their friends and family – both digitally and in person – because it’s a fun fact that shows how far someone can come.
Another thing you have to remember – funny always works.
Someone might tell you that making up a story is a good idea. However, your readers will be able to see right through it. They don’t want lies – they want true stories that showcase your nature and your brand’s nature.
Transparency is always your best policy.
Even if you want to tell a lie and it works for a while, someone will find out sooner or later that you are deceiving your audience. And this will have a huge backlash for your business.
So, tell honest stories, support with images and statements from your friends and people who know you well. Make sure that you are being as transparent as you can. Because lies are common in this world. True honesty is a breath of fresh air. It’s unexpected. Your readers will be stunned by your willingness to reveal your stories.
Feature your Customers
Another great way to relate to your audience through storytelling is to use your customer’s stories. So, let’s say you sell a very useful software for writers. You can begin your storytelling journey by sharing a bit about yourself as a writer and how you came up with this idea. Share about which problems you needed to be solved.
Then, include some of your most devoted customers. Allow them to tell your subscribers the same thing – how they became a writer, what issues they faced and how finding this software changed their life.
“People believe their peers. Writers will believe other writers when they say that something works. You can also be nice to your customers who shared their stories and allow them to include their links and promote their channels a bit if they want to,” says Rhea Lopez, a communications manager at Stateofwriting and Essayroo.
This way, you are gaining real brand advocates and allies and you are also helping your prospects trust you more. User-generated content is another thing you can add – posts from your users about your brand from social media, for instance.
Use Different Media
You can tell your story in many different ways. For one, there is a plain text email which still works pretty well for most brands. You can create an HTML email which can impress with colors and images. And you can make your story a bit more interactive as well.
For one, you could tell your story via a video. Users have the option to play it or not play it, but they control a part of the game, which is compelling. You can create multiple videos for each part of your journey so they can choose which one they want to play.
You can also create an interactive infographic where your users could slide and click to reveal a new part of your story. This is a fun and slightly gamified way of storytelling that works because it engages the reader a lot.
You can also present them with several images in your email and allow them to click on whichever one they want to reveal a different part of your story.
Whichever one you choose, you can rest assured that they will like it. By adding interactive components, you are actively engaging your audience with your story and that’s always a good thing.
Another good recommendation is to serialize your emails so that your users have something to look forward to and you stay present for longer in their minds.
Create High-quality, Reader-friendly Content
One of the elements you should definitely pay attention to is how well written your content truly is. For one, using simple and sensory language is much better than using jargon and complex words that seem pretentious. This will make you seem like a friend, rather than a brand that talks down to your audience.
You should also make your content highly readable. People don’t really read anymore – they skim through the content until something sparks their attention. Then they might read. So, make sure that you use plenty of subheadings, headings, bold fonts and bullet points These are the areas that will grab your user’s attention so you should make sure that there is something show-stopping there.
Another thing that seems a bit obvious but may not be – based on numerous examples – you need to proofread your content. Grammar and spelling mistakes are a huge turn-off for your audience and something that will deteriorate your credibility right on the spot.
This is why writing well and with the reader in mind is so important.
But if you would rather not deal with these things, here are some trusted editing tools that can help you do this job much faster:
- Academadvisor and Top writing services are email writing guides which can help you build a writing style designed to draw attention.
- Paperfellows and Ukwritings are online editing and proofreading tools that will help you find jargon and complex words in your emails and eliminate all of the grammar and spelling mistakes.
- Oxessays is an online formatting tool praised by Revieweal that can help you design a content layout that will definitely draw attention.
- Australianhelp is a blog that offers tricks and tips to generate catchy email subject lines that will get your users to open and enjoy your emails.
Telling your brand story is one of the best things you can do for your company, marketing-wise. It will help you build a deeper connection with your customers and reveal a more human, relatable side of your brand. While it may not be the easiest marketing strategy – with all of the things you need to consider and it not being very direct in selling – it will help you drive more conversions than plain old sales emails. People are looking for the unexpected, something that will wow them and your honest, relatable brand story might just be it.
Freddie Tubbs is an email marketer at Academized. He regularly takes part in tech and marketing events and contributes posts to Australian Reviewer and Writemyaustralia blogs.
Learn from real practitioners not just trainers.