Storytelling: A Narrative Approach to Marketing

Who doesn’t love a good story? They are the foundation of television shows and movies, of songs and art. In many ways they are the essence of our very lives. We communicate with each other through stories more often than any other form of information exchange. And the more intriguing, the better. Often stories are embellished in the retelling, making them more exciting, compelling the listener’s interest and amplifying attention. But why do we relate so to storytelling? How can we leverage this connection to promotional endeavors?

In the dawn of human history storytelling was an important function in day-to-day existence. The hunter provided meat, the gatherer delivered medicinal herbs, but it was the storyteller that afforded distraction from the harsh conditions in which people dwelled. Thus entertainment became an important component to life; even before we understood mental health as a concept, we comprehended its significance.

Living the experience

We relate so closely to storytelling, and indeed to experiences of all types, through the empathy of mirror neurons. These brain cells allow us to be subjected to the very same sensations felt by others during their occurrence as though we were having the encounter ourselves. Consider the pulse pounding thrill of a roller coaster ride while watching a film of the event. From a neurological standpoint, the incident is indistinguishable from the actual event, and can elicit the same physical reactions such as increased heart rate, queasiness, etc. The same holds true for emotional involvement; we identify with what is happening as though we are undergoing the episode personally, and in real time.

In the course of hearing or watching, various neurotransmitter chemicals are released across the synapses which amplify the experience – norepinephrine during fear and agitation, dopamine and serotonin from pleasure, happiness and contentment. A well recounted narrative can evoke the same emotional response conveyed as participating in the action. This is the essence of being, “in the moment.”

Storytelling in content marketing offers a  valuable tactical approach.

Distraction offers release, and entertainment offers value. These benefits may be effectively exploited in the promotional delivery of the integrated marketing communication. Use of storytelling in content marketing strategies proposes a viable approach, one which is sustainable throughout the extent of the customer life cycle. By incorporating an amusing and diverting anecdote within the context of helpful information we can achieve a value added contribution to the advertising message delivered to the targeted audience.

Storytelling as a narrative tactic in neuromarketing endeavors is best practice. Bonding with the consumer in ways that are intimately experiential can create connections which may offer a practicable method of acquiring new customers as well as being a technique which strengthens customer retention, builds brand recognition and bolsters brand loyalty.

Have you made use of storytelling in your content marketing plan? Has this been a successful approach for your firm? Please share your experiences in the comments below. If you know of a colleague that might find this article helpful, we hope you will share it them.

And join us again next week as Grannelle brings you more academically viable insight into the disciplines of eMarketing, social media and other Web 2.0 interests!


About Grannelle

eMarketing Scholar
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