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How Storytelling Drives Consumer Action
May 26, 2017
How Storytelling Drives Consumer Action
Zhana Veleska

Have you ever read a story, watched a video or saw an ad that inspired you to alter a habit — or even transform your life? If so, you’ll remember it … that specific piece of marketing storytelling that changed the way you approach projects, problems, or life in general.

In contrast, you’ve probably long forgotten the multitude of blog posts, videos, and articles you’ve consumed that were about as exciting as legal disclaimers on a pharma ad. In most cases, authors of content do not put in enough research or care into how to really move people.

But that’s not you. You aim to stimulate thought, to kindle excitement and to motivate action. Here are just three of the ways to craft your storytelling to influence your audience’s behaviors.

1.  Drive urgency.

Let’s say you’re given the assignment to market portable chargers for handheld electronics. A typical, benefit-oriented storytelling approach would focus on the positive (“Your life will be better with this product!”) or negative (“You won’t want to be without it if your phone battery is dying!”).

But to really drive action … how about instilling a little fear?

This story certainly changed my mind about the need for portable chargers and convinced me to never plug in at an airport or public portal ever again. As a B2C or B2B marketer, this is a dream media placement because it pushes people to action. It shows the essential role of media outreach to get the kind of third-party endorsement you need. Smart manufacturers will share it multiple times on social media and create content with that same central point.

It’s the difference between “Oh, I didn’t know that” and “Whoa … I needed to know that!”

And, yes, I bought a couple of portable chargers after reading it.

2.  Evoke emotion.

In contrast to the previous example, after watching his video, you don’t have to adopt a pet. But it’ll grab your heart so hard you’ll want to – as soon as possible. (Heck, I would have if I didn’t already adopt a rescue dog.)

This video funded by Pedigree to highlight National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day and National Pet Month is strikingly effective because it catches your curiosity right away. Why are people in cages? What are they doing? The unique approach and heartwarming ending ties it all together.

It will be interesting to see how many more pets were adopted in April and May 2017 – and beyond – as a result of this spot-on storytelling.

3.  Foster responsibility.

As I rode in an Uber from Content Marketing World last year, the driver and I discussed a variety of things, such as people and places he saw during his Army tours of duty, including during the Gulf War. When he noted that one overseas country seemed overrun by trash and rubbish, we talked about how much attitudes about littering have changed in this country in recent decades.

Why? In his opinion, it was this classic ad that compelled everyone to Keep America Beautiful.

Safe to say he’s not the only person of a certain age who recalls the arresting final image in that ad before deciding against throwing a piece of garbage to the side of the road. Or was motivated to pick up someone else’s debris.

Proving, once again, it’s hard to get an action without a reaction.