Does Your Marketing Tell a Story? How to Tell
Stories have been a viable source of communication since the beginning of time and are crucial to the success of radio ads. They’re important for recall and recognition, persuading acts or behaviors, and entertaining the listener.
Stories play a role in radio marketing by helping people decide what to feel or do about a product or service while entertaining your consumers in a way that resonates with them. People love stories and more so when they’re about their favorite brands. In fact, research by Headstream found that “55% are more likely to buy the product in [the] future, 44% will share the story, and 15% will buy the product immediately [after hearing the story].”
That means potentially more sales in the short and long-term, brand loyalists, and brand awareness — but only when your radio marketing tells a story. The following elements are essential to telling a story, and a sure way to tell if your marketing tells one.
The protagonist of a marketing story is the consumer or the company itself. In most cases, it’s better for the protagonist to be the consumer since people care more about what is happening to them rather than what happens to a stranger. Choosing which one to make your protagonist depends on the story you intend to tell.
Make your company the protagonist if you intend to highlight your company’s history, influence on the industry, impact on society during a time of need, or something similar. An example would be Ford’s campaign, “Built For Right Now,” that “underlines the company’s 100-year history and how it built tanks and planes during wartime to support America.”
Otherwise, consumers enjoy stories that directly affect them, much like a similar case with Ford, where they raised brand awareness during the pandemic by responding with “Built to Lend a Hand.” It focuses on the consumer’s struggles specifically and how they are making a difference.
The protagonist has to have something to overcome for it to be a story. It can be a person, thing, or even a force of nature, as long as it is in there somehow. It keeps the story realistic, authentic, fulfilling, and way more relatable than an ‘everything is perfect’ story.
Think of it this way — if everything were perfect and there were no obstacles to overcome, then why do they even need you?
Essentially, when the going gets tough, the consumer can rely on you and your brand (through your story) to help them overcome the obstacle. It can also be a great way for them to relate to your brand through a similar problem and then look to you for the solution.
Just as every marketer needs SMART goals for their campaigns, you need a goal for your marketing story. Nothing can be achieved without a reasonable and relevant goal, especially in stories. More so in marketing stories. Let’s face it, you can’t honestly have an obstacle if there isn’t a goal to be achieved on the other end.
In this case, the protagonist should be aiming for something that the obstacle is obstructing. When you keep it relevant to the protagonist (i.e. the consumers), then they’ll feel more invested in seeing the story to the end.
A Guide or Helper
While this isn’t necessary for every story, it certainly plays an important role in marketing stories. This is because the company takes on the role of the “guide” who shows the protagonist how to overcome the obstacle to achieve the goal.
This way, when the consumers relate their problems to your protagonist’s obstacles, they will also seek your company’s solution to that issue since it worked out so well in the story.
A Beginning, Middle, and End
Every story must start somewhere, end somewhere, and have gone through changes in the middle. In fact, it is essential for developing the most important events of your story and helps the reader make sense of your intended point or message.
Institute for Writers says, “In the beginning, there is a promise, clarity, and immediacy. In the middle, [you] fulfill those promises made. In the end, the major problem is resolved, and we see the characters finally get a moment to rest.”
In a similar sense, at the beginning of the story, the protagonist has not achieved their goal but has a promise or determination to do so. The middle is them confronting that obstacle to reach that promise or goal. Then at the end of the story, the goal has been achieved with the guide’s help.
Includes a CTA
Much like any marketing content, you should always include some form of a call-to-action in your story. This doesn’t mean you want to be blunt and say, “you (the reader) need to do this,” like you would in other marketing efforts. In those cases, you want to be straightforward and clear about where you’re directing the consumer.
In a marketing story, you want to be precise but imply (rather than directly say) that by doing a specific action (the CTA), the protagonist can move towards their end. Without this CTA, the protagonist could have otherwise missed the opportunity to reach that intended goal.
Basic examples for you to consider:
- Typical CTA: Sign up now for the best deals.
- Story with a CTA: Sara signed up with Hubbard Chicago to get the best deals.
Does Your Marketing Tell a Story?
If your radio messages contain a protagonist, obstacle, goal, guide/helper, CTA, and a beginning, middle, end — then your ad is telling a story. If not, then you must structure your radio ad to do just that.
Your product/service alone is no longer enough to persuade consumers to make a purchase and remember you when they require your solution — there are plenty of other companies doing the same thing. Instead, Forbes reports that storytelling can make you up to 22 times more memorable, create a deep emotional connection between you and your target audience, and humanize your brand.
People love stories, and if you got a good one to tell, many will drop everything to listen. When you can do this, you can be sure you’re telling a marketing story worth having.