Story First, Product Second: Why Brand Leaders Are Prioritizing Storytelling

When it comes to marketing a product, effective storytelling is absolutely critical. In fact, a recent Stanford study shows that people are up to 22 times more likely to remember a story than facts presented alone. Brands who focus on storytelling are more successful than those who do not because storytelling forces marketers to focus on the human needs of the target audience; they’re talking to people, not just customers.

If you’re still not completely sold, consider this: Origin created a series of experiments in which consumers were shown the exact same items paired with either standard product descriptions or more detailed stories; in every case, consumers selected the product partnered with a story. What’s more, they were willing to pay more for it. For example, a hotel room advertised with a story from a customer who stayed there pulled in 5 percent more per booking than a hotel room advertised with the standard room description and features. Artwork paired with a story about the artist earned 11 percent more than the same art displayed with only the title, year of commission, and artist’s name. And on eBay, partnering a listing with an excerpt from a short story gained a whopping 64 percent higher bid than listing the item with a typical, brief description.

For marketers and their brands, this means more authentic connections with customers, which not only converts to an increased number of sales, but also a boost in perceived value of the products. With no additional financial investment, brands can dramatically increase the perceived value of their products and the amount of money people are willing to pay for them, just by adding the element of storytelling. So if you’re ready to start maximizing your marketing impact, it’s time to start getting creative with visual storytelling by following these examples.

Sell an experience.

The truth is that people connect with a lifestyle or shared experience, so it’s important to tap into that common ground with your customer. Kip Skibicki, founder of StarChild management and Top Notch Threads, understands the power of solling an experience just as much as the product or service itself. Top Notch Thread’s social media presence pulses with urban luxury vibes, selling visitors on the brand experience through photographic storytelling of their streetwear modeled on the management and consulting firm’s musical artists, producers, public figures, models, and other talent.

Solve a Problem.

Even the most life-changing products can be ruined by bad or incomplete storytelling, like a feature-driven marketing page. Tables like the one below show a bunch of features and how the new product beats out all the old products, but the customer has to already understand which features are important to them, bringing their own narrative to the table instead of being guided to the narrative you want them to understand. It makes it hard for customers to understand what to do with your product, how to use it, and why it’s great—it shows the dots, but it doesn’t connect them.

Restream focuses on solving the problem of limited bandwidth for live streaming video content to multiple platforms, but you won’t find any charts or graphics like the one above explaining how their system benefits gamers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and marketers. Instead, Restream shares press highlights featuring just how their innovative system has benefitted those demographics, with headlines like, “Hey kids! Restream lets you stream your gaming sessions to multiple video sites at once,” speaking directly to a target audience’s needs instead of hoping they can sort out for themselves which product features are the most valuable.

Go behind-the-scenes.

Another fantastic way to share your product’s story with your audience is to take them behind-the-scenes, giving consumers an exclusive look into your manufacturing and production processes, so potential customers can witness for themselves just how much time, effort, and energy goes into creating quality products.

This is an especially effective—and critical—marketing component for brands like Azazie, who are revolutionizing their industries with innovative new strategies their clientele may not fully comprehend. Azazie has brought formal dress shopping into the digital age, allowing brides, bridesmaids, and prom-goers the opportunity to shop for customized gowns 100 percent online. Of course, it can be difficult for women to understand just how they will know their dress will fit when it comes in, so Azazie is happy to explain how their system works by offering consumers insight into the ordering, manufacturing, shipping, and return processes. This transparency builds trust and understanding between the innovative company and its new clientele.

Everyone loves a good story; humans are hardwired from birth to love settling in to listen to someone spin a good yarn. Toddlers love bedtime stories; grown-ups love a new binge-worthy Netflix series; folks of all shapes, sizes, and ages love a classic film favorite or an all-American novella. And it all comes back to that innate human desire to create and tell stories. If your brand is ready to take marketing to the next level, it’s time to start incorporating quality storytelling into your advertising campaign.