The Elements of Good Storytelling & How You Can Use Storytelling in Marketing

Lauren Owens - January 31, 2014

In an earlier post, we told you that the best way to capture an audience is to tell a story. If you’re not a natural storyteller, the very prospect of having to tell one may strike fear into your well-meaning heart. Never fear, in this post, we’re going to strip storytelling down to its three most basic elements with help from this simple, six-second Vine from Lowes.

Element #1 – There Must Be an Engaging, Relatable Character

In every story you’ve ever paid attention to, there’s likely a character at its center that you’ve admired or related to. Consider James Bond, Jack Bauer, or Homer Simpson. You might not be a federal agent, international spy or doughnut-eating animated character, but there’s something about these characters that you like, and maybe even relate to.

In the case of the above Vine, it’s the person trying to keep squirrels from their bird feeder.

Element #2 – There Must Be a Challenge, or Conflict

Jack Bauer had challenges. James Bond had challenges. Every week, Homer Simpson has challenges. Without challenge, the audience has nothing to root for, no reason to tune in.

In this case, it’s that pesky squirrel. How can our heroine keep squirrels from her bird feeder?

Element #3 – The Character Must Overcome the Challenge

Here’s why we tune in week after week, watch reruns of well-loved episodes and pay $20 at the megaplex to see the latest Bond movie. Each time, no matter the conflict, our hero diffuses the bomb, dismantles the smuggling operation and escapes the wrath of Mr. Burns. And you know what? It feels good to watch them win.

In the case of the Vine, you guessed it, our heroine finds a smart, inexpensive solution to overcome her challenge. Problem solved!

Using Storytelling in Marketing

Now, how can you take this information and incorporate it into your marketing strategy? It all starts with your audience:

  • Who are they?
  • What are their challenges?
  • How can you help them overcome these challenges?

Maybe the best place to do this isn’t through a Vine. Maybe it’s a blog post, an infographic or a video. There are a myriad of tools at your disposal for using storytelling to effectively connect with your audience online. What tools you use isn’t as important is how you use them.

Our advice?

Go where your core audience already is, and dazzle them.

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