The Power of Storytelling

With an ever-expanding array of digital marketing platforms, many start to question whether content marketing will relegate into another battle of budgets: who can get the best writers, outsource to the best agencies and purchase the most-sponsored content. But keep one thing in mind, content marketing is equally about content, if not more. A research study done by Google shows that over 80% of customers research before they make actual purchases, consulting 10.4 sources for data and reviews relevant to the products. On the B2B side, the Marketing Leadership Council shows in a report that the customers proceed nearly 60% of the way through the purchasing process before engaging with a sales rep. Therefore, relevant content will play a crucial role in their decision-making.

Figure 1: Degree of Progress Through the Purchase Process Before Engaging Sales

Content marketing is where art meets the science of marketing. In the Journal of Consumer Research at the University of Chicago, the resulting scholarly paper “The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers’ Narrative Transportation” is written to enlighten us with some principles about how we should perceive brands’ storytelling efforts. The research reveals that narrative transportation has positive effects on thoughts and attitudes; and negative effects on critical thoughts. In more scientific vernacular, storytelling amplifies receptors, while attenuating resistors.
In a new book titled “The Dragonfly Effect, the author examines stories in social media that inspire viral responses and comes up with “four dragon wings”, each representing a key element in storytelling marketing strategy. Here is an excerpt of each of these four wings:

  1. Tell a story. A personal journey—candidly discussing on why and how he or she took a certain action—evoking themes of redemption, change, and hope among audiences
  2. Empathize with your audience. Let people engage with your brand to learn what’s important to them and how it relates to your campaign.
  3. Emphasize authenticity. True passion is contagious, and the more authenticity you convey, the more easily others can connect with you and your cause.
  4. Match the media with the message. How and where you say something can be as important as what you say.

In the report mentioned earlier on, the author also identifies visual representation, i.e. photos and videos, as the more meaningful and powerful content type. However, it is shown that marketers have been very slow to zoom in on “visual content” due to  three major misconceptions:

  1. Creating visual content requires skills rarely possessed or expected from the average content producer
  2. Visual content is substantially more expensive than producing text-based contexts
  3. Visual content is viewed as a nice-to-have—an optional and additional task that can be tackled if time and budget permits

Companies such as VideoGenie make the process of collecting, analyzing what’s working, and displaying visual content much less time-consuming and costly. Moreover, it truly helps people feel emotionally connected with the brands by fulfilling the “four goals of dragonfly wings.”