Phoebe Chongchua is a marketing strategist who helps companies use brand journalism storytelling to grow their online presence, build community, and gain market share.
The concept of a story has been crucial throughout history. Without a story, people don’t remember information as well or make the same kind of emotional connection.
Many brands concentrate their marketing on features and benefits. And while there is value in those things, when they’re intertwined with a story, they’re remembered much more effectively.
Stories carry huge emotional weight and can put consumers in the right mindset to accept what you’re offering. Last September, I had author Paul Smith on my show, The Brand Journalism Advantage (Episode 311 of the Brand Journalist Podcast). In his latest book, Sell With a Story: How to Capture Attention, Build Trust, and Close the Sale, Smith identifies the six elements needed for a story to successfully work: Time, Place, Main Character, Goal, Obstacle, and Events.
Smith would say you need all of these elements, but in terms of a marketing piece, you can get away with four: Hero, Arc, Conflict, and Resolution. I recently did some consulting for a remodeler and we created a video series that had all of those components.
Here’s an example: A couple has a dilemma: They love their home but the kitchen is too cramped. The room has a load-bearing wall that may have to stay in place, and they’re ready to sell the home if it can’t be remodeled.
The remodeler figures out a solution. The story ends with all of them clinking glasses in the new kitchen as the couple talks about how happy they are with the remodel. Watching that video makes you feel something. You identify with the people. The story has heroes, an arc, an obstacle, and a resolution.
Another successful example from the same series took a different approach. It tells the story of a homeowner’s dog, which escaped during the remodel and went running off down a crowded street. A company employee caught the dog, then built a large outdoor crate to house it in during the remodel. What made the story even better was an interview with the local humane society, which provided tips on what homeowners should do with pets during a remodel, adding useful information to an already engaging story.
On a final note, when hiring a professional to create stories for your brand, it’s important to go with someone who has a journalism background rather than just PR and marketing skills. Journalists are trained in the art of storytelling and can help frame your story so it’s most accessible to homeowners.