How to Tell Stories to Attract Rabid Fans and Convert Like Crazy
Wouldn’t it be nice if your customers were as passionate about your product or brand as you are?
Don’t you wish you customers would proudly display your logo and recommend you at every chance they get?
You don’t need to be a superbrand like Apple or Google to be loved. You just need to tell your story in the right way.
People Buy Based on Emotion, Not Logic
While some degree of logic is usually involved, piles of research show that the majority of purchases are based on emotion.
There are 6 main emotions that can be used to improve your conversion rates:
- Altruism (“Charity”)
“So what? How does that help my business?”
You can’t incorporate emotions into products, but you can incorporate them into your marketing messages.
By understanding your customers, you can identify their emotions that best align with your product, and tell stories that build trust and loyalty. Let’s look at some strategic ways brands are putting emotion in marketing.
Tell Stories That Resonate With Your Customers
Being transparent has become a requirement of modern marketing.
Telling your brand’s story is one of the best ways to make a connection with your customers. Stories can entertain, inform, and deepen relationships.
Customers Want to Hear Your Story
One common mistake in conversion optimization is trying to convert a prospect into a customer before they are ready.
For any product other than an impulse purchase, customers like to take the time to search around for reviews, testimonials, recommendations, coupon, and most importantly, who you are.
Case Study: GoPro’s Purpose
Not convinced that people actually care about where your company came from and what it’s trying to do?
Head on over to the GoPro homepage and try to find a link to their “About us” page.
The only place you will find it is in the footer, at the bottom of every page. How much traffic do you think it gets?
The “About us” page contains the following Youtube video that features the founder talking about what GoPro is trying to accomplish:
Even though it’s an unlisted video (only those with the link can view it), it has over 165,000 views.
Let me repeat that: An unlisted video on an extremely low-visibility page has over 165,000 views.
Customers want to hear your story. Tell them; Maybe don’t make the video as hard to find as GoPro has.
If you want a near-unlimited supply of quality product and brand story examples, check out the most funded projects on KickStarter.
Telling your company’s story is only one part of the equation. While customers will be content that you have an identity behind the logo, it’s also important to associate your products with feelings that your target audience shares.
Here’s a bad way to tell a story…
I challenge you to make it through this entire Samsung promotional video. It’s a great example to show that even giant brands get it wrong sometimes.
Did you make it through? If you did, let me know in a comment after the article and I’ll give you a gold sticker.
Truly awful, right?
Samsung has correctly identified how 3 personas (mother, businessman, gamer) in their target audience could use their product, but completely miss the target.
The dialogue is completely inauthentic, boring, and stresses no emotions. It’s not entertaining, it doesn’t tell any real stories, and it’s not believable — fail.
Remember that the whole point of telling a story is to make a connection, which requires you to be authentic.
Storytelling Done Right
I’ve put together 5 examples of great stories that businesses have used to build their brand, attract loyal customers, and improve conversions.
1. Show What Your Product Can Do (The Lego Movie)
While you’re probably not in the target audience, you’ve likely heard of The Lego Movie (I still loved it). Here’s the hilarious trailer if you haven’t seen it yet:
Since you’re interested in marketing, you probably saw through it, but the majority of movie viewers do not realize that the whole movie is an ad for Lego!
Even though the movie isn’t about lego as a product, I guarantee you just about every kid walking out of theatres was begging their parents for a new set.
How did they do it?
The movie didn’t focus on explaining the features or benefits of the product, they showed the possibilities that the product facilitates.
It engaged the sense of wonder and excitement in viewers, and conveyed the message that Lego enables you to build unlimited opportunities.
2. Associate Your Product With a Relevant Experience (Budweiser)
If you’re a fan of football, you’ve already seen the following commercial, which was aired during the Superbowl:
I’ve watched this several times now, and it just keeps growing on me. It’s a heartfelt story of a bond of friendship between a beautiful Clydesdale horse and a puppy. Even though they’ve been separated, they found there way back to each other and the horse was there for the puppy when he needed help the most.
Who doesn’t have an old friend like that? Someone you may not get to see or talk to often, but they’re always there when you need them…perhaps over a cold beer?
What do you think of when you think of beer?
Friends, companionship, and reunions probably come to mind.
The brilliance of the commercial is that no words were needed. The simple text “Best Buds” at the end communicated everything that you were feeling. The product doesn’t need to be shoved in your face, just subtly inserted into the end of the commercial and a glimpse of the logo. This is one of a series of similar commercials Budweiser has produced.
If you can think of a meaningful experience where your product or services can be used, pull on those heart strings and build a connection. Show that you understand your customer and can relate.
3. Say What Your Customers Are Thinking
Proctor and Gamble is a massive company that manufactures thousands of products. While you and I are constantly told that “everyone is not your audience,” that’s not the case for P&G.
During the Olympics, P&G put out this ad as a sponsor:
This ad appeals to anyone who has ever played a sport, as well as to mothers. P&G took a sentiment that isn’t said enough, “Thank you mom,” and elevated its importance.
When most people saw that commercial, they have feelings and thoughts of love, pride, and happiness. Even though P&G didn’t advertise a specific product, this commercial still helps build their brand recognition.
4. Tell Stories About Why You Exist, and Why Your Customer is Special (Dollar Shave Club)
Dollar Shave Club understands the importance of making a connection and telling stories. If you go to their homepage, this is what you see:
The first thing you see is a short, entertaining video with the CEO of the company explaining what the purpose of Dollar Shave Club is, and the benefits of subscribing.
The one aspect that is done really well is that the CEO emphasizes why the service is needed. He outlines the common sentiment among many men by talking about the high cost of blade replacements, and the ridiculous complexity that the modern razor has become.
When a man watches it (like me), they instantly nod their head and think: “Yes! I can’t believe it’s taken this long for someone else to notice how crazy this is.” It leaves you excited, happy, and feeling like you’ve made a connection with the CEO/company. By the way, you can learn more about Dollar Shave Club here.
5. Appeal to Your Customer’s Unique Emotions (Tom’s Bags)
Guilt, or shame, is rampant in first-world countries. For many consumers, it’s hard to draw the line between buying things you want, and using that money to help those less fortunate.
Toms is a fashion accessories company (think bags, sunglasses, etc.) that has a unique way of selling their products.
When you click “shop” or “browse,” the first thing you see isn’t the products you expect, but this headline and video saying that your purchase could save a life:
The short video goes on to explain that for every bag that is purchased, Toms will also donate a bag of necessary birthing medical supplies to women in need in poorer countries.
This is a brilliant strategy as it alleviates the guilt of buying an expensive bag that a woman (or maybe man) feels they “don’t really need.”
When they buy a bag, they associate that feeling with the good feeling of helping someone. Over time, this is going to build an incredible amount of trust and loyalty. Once a woman buys a bag from Toms, guess where they’ll probably go back next time?
How Can You Connect With Your Customers
By now, you probably get the picture of what stories can accomplish, and your eyes might be a bit welled up (no shame in that!). But all of that is useless if you can’t apply these lessons to your business.
Luckily, there’s really only 2 broad steps that you need to connect with your customers.
Step 1: Develop Story-Market Fit
The first thing you need to achieve with a new offering is product-market fit, which is nothing new. But once you know how your product fits in, you have to figure out how your story fits in.
- When is my product used, and what emotions surround that? (e.g. friendship)
- How can my product be used, and what are the benefits? (e.g. possibilities of Lego)
- What are the emotional troubles my customers face, and how can I alleviate them? (e.g. Toms charity)
- Is my customer a minority and distressed about the status quo? (e.g. Dollar Shave Club)
I’ve given you 4 different ways that you can trigger emotions in customers while telling stories — pick one.
Step 2: Tell Your Story
Step 1 is the foundation, so don’t rush through it. Once you believe you’ve achieved story-market fit, you then have to go through the process of telling your story and presenting it to your customers.
Let’s break it down into steps:
- Pick a format to tell your story in: could be text, email, or images
- Decide how you will show it to customers: on the homepage, product pages, or an about page
- Tell it authentically: If you picked your story-market fit correctly, this should be easy
- Decide how to tell it: this is where the creatives on your team come in. Develop a script or way to present your story
That’s it: 2 steps.
Tell stories that resonate with your customers — it’s a simple concept, but rarely applied.