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Storytelling has long had a place in marketing. Humans are engaged by stories, it’s something natural within us, and some of the very best brands use stories to tap into the target’s emotions. A story can be so effective in your marketing if you do it right. But that doesn’t mean you actually need to tell a story: You can also use specific storytelling techniques to engage with your audience.

Use Cliffhangers

The best stories leave you wanting more. Whether it’s the end of a chapter or the end of a TV show, you want to read or watch the next installment, you know how it feels when you simply must find out what happens next. And you can use this in your marketing to get your audience more involved.

In your blogs, tease your readers by mentioning something important such as an answer to a pressing concern that you will discuss in your next post. You can do the same in your emails. Use the last paragraph to touch on an important issue … and then tell your subscribers to look out for the next email where to find out more. Cliffhangers get people excited, and this engages the emotions, which is what you should be trying to do with your audience.

Use Specific Details

The best novels use specific details to bring the fictional world to life. Details help readers to put themselves right into the story, to involve and engage them and make them feel what the characters feel. You can use the same technique with your marketing.

One useful way to use specifics is with your sales copy on your website and landing pages. For example, don’t ask your targets to join “thousands” of other customers on your email list; ask them to join “16,744” instead. Specific details are more real and more believable, so use them throughout your marketing.

Involve Characters

Every story must have characters, and a good story will have characters that the audience loves, especially a hero who they really root for. This does not mean you need to create fictional characters (though that can be very effective when done well). Instead, you can base your characters on buyer personas and tell the story from their perspective so your audience can connect with them emotionally. Best of all, make the customer the hero of the story. Tell the story from their point of view, putting them right into the action. Do this by showing how your product or service helps them overcome a challenge, how it solves their problems and makes their life better.

Use a Personal Voice

The voice you tell the story in is important. You don’t want it to come from some anonymous brand, so show your personality. When creating emails, write as if you are speaking from one person to another. The same with your landing pages, blog, and social media updates. Mimic the process of one person telling a story to another, and engage your audience this way.

Tell Meaningful Stories by Going Local

People care about their own lives, which means the world they inhabit, especially their local area. So tell local stories that your audience can engage with. Incorporate stories from the community, using people just like them as the characters. By doing this you make the stories relevant to their lives. Seek out real-life stories. Be on the lookout for them all the time so you can use them when they emerge. Especially stories that involve a real person facing a problem that is solved through your product or service.

Follow Story Structure

Stories always have a structure, with the classic being the three-step structure of a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can use this structure to demonstrate the abilities of your own products, such as in a great case study. Tell the story of the person or business who had a problem, how you came along, what you did, the challenges they faced, and how they triumphed at the end with your help along with what they learned.

Engage the Emotions

People enjoy good stories when they become emotionally involved, so use the same technique to get people more involved with your marketing. Sales copy is most effective when it uses the emotions to get the targets to feel something. That could be excitement, fear, hope—both positive and negative emotions can be effective. Just make sure you get them involved in some way. That also means focusing on the benefits of your products, how they can make someone’s life better, rather than just presenting dull facts and features.

Choose the Right Medium for Your Stories

Telling stories does not just mean using the written word. While text may be the best way to tell one story, you are not limited to it. Movies tell stories. Images tell stories. So experiment with various ways to tell stories, such as videos, images, slideshows, and podcasts. What would your audience enjoy the most? What would resonate with them? Find out and use this.

Use the Power of Stories

Stories are powerful because we are hard-wired to be engaged by them. They capture the imagination, they keep your audience involved, and if you can create good stories, you can use them in your marketing. Look over your marketing materials, including your social media channels, your blog, your advertisements. How are you using stories? How could use these storytelling techniques? Then find a way to add more power to your marketing by using storytelling techniques to make it more engaging and delight your audience.

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About the Author: Jason Corgiat

I started building websites in 1999. Through the years I've worked with hundreds of businesses in various verticals and have built, implemented and managed digital strategies for companies of all sizes. My education is not formal and neither are my methods. Chances are, I can add value to your organization from day 1 but I'll let you be the judge. I'm a proud father of 4, luckiest husband in the world, and enjoy the occasional gym session. How was that for a bio?

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