People have been telling stories for at least 20,000 years. Storytelling continues to play a major role in our lives; it’s an important part of human nature, and a powerful business tool. But what makes a story successful? We talked to experts to answer this question.
Photo VS video in storytelling
According to research, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Modern technology gives us a wide array of opportunities to tell a story through photos, illustrations, animations or videos.
Michael Brenner, author of The Content Formula, and CEO at Marketing Insider Group: “More than 90% of the internet bandwidth is taken up by video. The most effective brands today are scaling visual storytelling and hiring visual designers, videographers and producers and creating video studios to produce visual content that engages their audience. It’s not about creating a viral video or a great infographic. Effective brands tell amazing stories and think about how video can support those efforts with everything they do”.
While video is a huge trend in modern visual communications, still images remain a great instrument to grab attention and stimulate the imagination in a split seconds.
Brian Carter, 15-year digital marketing veteran and founder at The Carter Group: “It’s more challenging to do images than video, because an image is just one frame. But your brain can understand an image in mere seconds. Whereas video requires more time commitment”.
According to Brian, Facebook ad data across thousands of campaigns made by his agency shows that people watch Facebook video for an average 15 seconds and YouTube video for 30 seconds. While people may choose to leave before they get your video message, the right image lets you deliver a complete message across in 3 seconds.
How to build your story
Experts agree that the best story is always built around the customer rather than the product.
Chris Brogan, the New York Times bestselling author and CEO at Owner Media Group: “Where most brands (and people) go wrong is that they do storytelling around themselves. Tell the buyer’s story and how you fit into it. It always helps”.
There are two ways to build a story, explains Brian Carter, “I think it’s useful to go through the exercises of thinking about:
- What would the story be if your company were the hero and you were saving the customer from the villain of their pain/problem?
- But a newer model is: make the customer the hero, and you are the mentor (great for service companies) or elixir/sword (great for tools/SAAS companies) that will help them defeat their villain (pains/problems)”.
Focusing on the customer as the main hero of your story gives you an opportunity to stand out in a highly competitive market.
“Every company in the world exists to solve a customer problem. Most companies think they are unique but the fact is your customers don’t really care”, says Michael Brenner, “One survey said that 74% of consumers wouldn’t care if the brands they use disappeared. Leading brands recognize that a relentless focus on their mission to serve customers is the only way to truly stand out in the noisy world we live in”.
What is your favorite storytelling success case?
Sujan Patel (growth hacker and enrepreneur, co-founder of Web Profits):
Visual content is just as important as website copy when it comes to communicating a brand’s story and value proposition. A great way to do this is via custom images for blog posts. One of the best examples I’ve seen of this is Wagepoint.
I think the one that stands out the most recently is Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, because it goes directly to beauty and appeal to an emotion their core customer feels – fear of not being attractive.
Capgemini started a content marketing program called content-loop.com. They focused on telling truly engaging stories and sharing great content. Despite a relatively small investment of their overall marketing budget, they created massive impact.
Any time you can make a world around the buyer, you have a chance to win. Stories like how Yeti is sharing their coolers and tumblers by appealing to people into the outdoors, for instance, are a great story.
- When choosing between photo and video as your storytelling instrument, keep in mind that video requires more time commitment from your audience.
- The best story is always built around the customer, not the product. Make your customer a hero, and your product – their magic weapon.
- In your story, focus on your customer’s’ problem that your product helps to solve. This strategy will let you stand out in a highly competitive market.