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The Marketing Edge – The incredible marketing potential of storytelling

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When was the last time you laughed? Cried? Donated to a good cause?

Was your best friend telling you about a hilarious scuffle over a television at the Black Friday event she attended? Did you watch a viral video that told a heartwarming story that made you tear up? Was a story you read about an ongoing fundraising effort so powerful that you decided to pitch in a few dollars?

These situations, along with many others in our lives, all have something in common – they use storytelling to evoke emotion. But the stories don’t just stop there – they can make you act on that emotion. A giggle, a tear, a donated dollar – each of these were the result of an incredible story that was told in a way that made you do something.

Storytelling isn’t just for these kinds of situations. It works for business, too.

Try to think of a few great marketing campaigns. We’ll use Hallmark as an example. They recently launched a campaign called #CareEnough that does one thing really well: tell stories. They’ve built a holiday campaign that rests entirely on storytelling, and they’ve done it well.

Now think of your own business and the hard work, the sweat, the late nights – everything – that went into making it what it is. How can you use that story to show others why they should invest in your product or service? Maybe you can tell a story with your product or service that will touch others in a way that traditional advertising can’t.

But you can’t just tell a story by writing it. According to HubSpot, blog posts with videos are linked to three times more than text-only posts, and 79 percent of people scan the web rather than read word-by-word. Use your story, and tell it in a way that will both attract and hold someone’s attention. You could use Hallmark’s approach, and tell a story by making a video, or maybe use a series of photos that help explain how one of your products helped someone succeed. The classic storytelling adage, “show don’t tell” is important here – and quite literal.

So try storytelling out for yourself, and don’t forget about the last time a story affected you – it will help you discover exactly how to tell your own.

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