Authentic marketing through storytelling

As consumers we want to connect with brands we believe to be real, engaging and honest. Everyone wants what I like to refer to as the “Norm Affect.” There’s something special about walking into your favorite coffee shop, boutique or restaurant and the staff knows your name. I discussed in another recent blog post the value of marketing going “old school” or back to basics. One way in which brands can begin engaging with prospects and customers on a personal level is through storytelling.


Studies carried out by Melanie C. Green and Timothy C. Brock at the Ohio State University have shown people’s beliefs can be swayed more effectively through storytelling than through logical arguments. Green and Brock suggest persuasion is most effective when people are “transported” to another place using a story. What’s marketing if not an attempt at creative persuasion?

Most companies only showcase client success stories or customer testimonials that are unique or exceed expectations. The only problem with that, is you limit the number of stories available to share if you’re only looking to share the remarkable. If someone has a positive experience with your organization and they’re willing to share it with others, do it. Success is success.Here are some ways in which you can make your storytelling more compelling and genuine, and ultimately begin growing engagement between your brand and prospective and current customers.

  • One of the worst ways to collect testimonials is to provide a scripted response or to suggest what your customer should say. At the end of the day, you want your customer to tell a story about you. Don’t give them sentence starters. Don’t ask them to say something in particular. However, it is a good idea to have your questions standardized so you can help them tell the story. For example, start off by asking how long they’ve been a customer or how they heard about your brand.
  • Don’t limit your stories to videos, quotes and case studies! Use them in sales presentations with vivid, but appropriate, images or even over the phone when explaining how your products or services help people or other businesses (based upon your business model).
  • Most stories start in a similar fashion: a customer and a challenge. Some challenges are small while others are much larger, however both may be worthy of expanding into a story that can better explain how your organization offered a solution. Working with sales and customer success teams to identify challenges your customers faced before they became customers is a great place to start.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with the words of one of my favorite authors, Sue Monk Kidd,

Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.