From the moment we can understand language, we love to hear stories. From Goblins and princesses to rocket men and space aliens, we engage with stories. It shapes how we perceive the world and teaches us right from wrong.
It’s no surprise therefore that many years ago advertising agencies worked out that telling stories helped to sell more products. When did this happen? A few minutes after the first marketing company broke the consumers trust by promoting a feature that didn’t exist. You see fundamentally we grew to distrust advertising. We don’t believe adverts because we all remember ads for washing powder that said that they could make your laundry whiter than white and for 30 years or so every new version of the product delivered even more whiteness. But today they give a different message through storytelling…
“Oh No! Little Johnnie has spilt strawberry syrup all over his white shirt while digging in the tar pits and writing all over himself with a fountain pen, how will I ever get syrup, ink and tar out of his shirt in time for his confirmation tomorrow?”
OK, I exaggerate, but basically this tells you the story of little Johnnie’s mother’s plight against stains, which you can relate to and “buy” into. This is far more effective than simply saying “Brand X washing powder is the best on the market at removing stains and grime.”
One of the main users of this type of advertising is the diet and fitness industry. We all know the classic ads that show a woman/man standing in one leg of a massive pair of jeans and “I lost 200KG in 3 months” above their heads. I know, I exaggerate a lot, but what I’m trying to say is that really powerful, believable advertising can be achieved if you tell a story. Don’t just describe a problem that your product or service resolves, make it personal by telling a story of how “Mary” was really upset by her acne problem and how it affected her life. Don’t just say how wonderful your product/service is, tell the reader/listener/viewer how much happier Mary is now that her acne is gone.
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