Storytelling within marketing is certainly nothing new. The concept – to create compelling stories that convey a brand’s personality or product – is traditionally used to forge an emotional connection with consumers.
Consequently, brands tend to report on broad metrics such as brand awareness and levels of trust.
But what about sales? According to Google, the art of ‘story-selling’ is going to be big in 2019, with brands increasingly focusing on how they can use storytelling in more actionable ways, i.e. to drive clicks and conversions rather than passive responses.
With this in mind, here are some examples of brands already using storytelling in this way, plus some tips on how to convert emotion into action.
‘How-to’ and educational content is one of the main reasons people head to YouTube, while motivation and inspiration also plays a big part. That makes the platform a natural fit for sports brands.
Sweaty Betty, which sells women’s workout gear as well as fitness classes, uses the channel to great effect with a combination of inspirational and helpful videos.
On one hand, it uses more emotive storytelling, with new season ads highlighting the empowering importance of fitness for women. To complement this, it also offers helpful and interactive ‘free workout’ videos, which aim to inspire and motivate women to take action.
The latter videos are not only designed to replicate an experience that consumers can get in real life (through Sweaty Betty’s in-store exercise classes), but they also highlight the brand’s products in action. Instructors reference the benefits of what they’re wearing and how it complements the workout. There is always a call to action to ‘get involved’ at the end, too, which prompts viewers to subscribe for further videos.
By offering something of real value (which also serves to highlight its own products) Sweaty Betty is a good example of how to convert viewers into consumers through more useful content. It’s also interesting to note that lengthier videos of 30 minutes are the most-watched, proving that viewers are engaged. Interestingly, however, these videos are not released very often on the Sweaty Betty channel – which is perhaps a deliberate tactic to draw viewers into stores.
Ben & Jerry’s
Values play a big part in Ben & Jerry’s marketing, with the brand creating a number of politically and socially-charged videos. While this strategy might inspire loyalty, it is not necessarily effective for pushing people to search for and buy products in stores or online.
In order to ensure this happens, Ben & Jerry’s takes a laser-focused approach elsewhere, using video storytelling that hones in on a specific target market (and the products they’re likely to buy).
‘Leena the lactose-intolerant employee eats non-dairy’ is a prime example. Designed to capture search interest from people using keywords related to lactose-free products and recipes, it uses a comedic narrative to capture their attention. It tells the story of Leena’s struggles when working in a dairy-only Ben & Jerry’s, before she discovers the joy of its new dairy-free product.
It’s not the funniest or most innovative ad, certainly, but by highlighting a specific hero product, it is likely to stick in the minds of consumers who fall into this target market.
For brands hoping to directly inspire sales, shoppable videos provide a great opportunity to do so. These videos (typically used by fashion or direct-to-consumer retailers) blend content and commerce by including links to the products featured.
Ted Baker is one of the most cited examples from the past few years. However, it is also one of the most effective due to its creative and innovative dedication to storytelling.
‘Keeping up with the Bakers’ tells the story of the Baker family as they move into a new house in the suburbs. Reminiscent of ‘Desperate Housewives’, it’s a tongue-in-cheek narrative designed to hook in viewers with intrigue. The brand also created a 360 degree version of the video, which allows viewers to further interact and explore the Bakers’ world.
‘Keeping up with the Bakers’ in particular was created to reduce the amount of steps that customers have to take before they buy. In this particular series, each item clicked on was added to the viewer’s basket (where as in previous ones they had to deliberately save them).
Similarly, the brand also reduced the amount of products featured and shortened the video’s length. Combined, this made ‘Keeping Up with the Bakers’ feel less sales-driven, but still gave viewers the time and space to consider browsing or buying.
Even when brands create a series (as opposed to standalone videos) – it’s hard to generate enough investment from viewers to ensure they’ll come back each time.
Evernote, the organisational app, has recently launched a series that intrinsically hooks people in. The videos are designed to promote its ‘Ever Better Challenge’, which is a free 30-day programme to help users achieve their goals.
For people that join the programme, the video series serves as encouragement as well as actionable tips. Interestingly, however, even if people are not currently doing the programme, the videos still offer helpful and motivating advice for generally doing your best.
With a narrative that spans a month, the hope is that those who become invested enough to watch the entire series will convert into longer-term Evernote users (and perhaps upgrade to the app’s premium options).