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How Effective is Storytelling in Marketing?

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Storytelling in Marketing1

By Kenneth Horsfall

To begin with, what is storytelling generally? According to wikipedia.org, storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics or embellishment.

Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.

Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view. The term “storytelling” can refer specifically to oral storytelling but also broadly to techniques used in other media to unfold or disclose the narrative of a story.

Storytelling is one of the oldest yet most powerful communication tools we have as humans. Stories help us to share, engage and comprehend in ways few other mechanisms can.

In marketing, storytelling provides an avenue to connect to consumers unlike any other. Brands are empowered to share and sell their values and personality in a form that feels less like advertising and more like a concerted effort to strengthen customer relationships.

Storytelling’s importance to marketing is undeniable; Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, puts forward three core reasons as to why:

  1. Stories Shape How People See You
  2. Stories Are Tools Of Power
  3. Stories Persuade And Move People To Action
  • Stories shape how people see you:

Brand narratives help form perceptions and attitudes. How people speak about and the way a brand presents itself all influence key metrics such as purchase consideration and brand loyalty. There is power in crafting stories to develop a desired identity and authenticity that hopefully resonates with consumers.

Try thinking about a brand you particularly like. Now imagine they were a person. How would you describe them to friends?

  • Stories are tools of power:

One of the best things about a great story is the ability to engross and capture an audience completely. Think about the last book you read that you just couldn’t put down or a party you’ve been to where someone shared an anecdote that had people hooked on every word. Often is the case, you’re completely absorbed in what your reading/hearing and time feel like it slows down around you.

In the world of marketing, communicating a great story has the potential to cut through much of the monotony of today’s advertising by presenting something that is unique and captivating, making consumers stop and listen.

  • Stories persuade and move people to action:

Stories are far more impactful in promoting retention and behaviour than functional messaging. A London School of Business study found that when people hear statistics alone, “they retain only 5% to 10%” of what they’ve heard. Yet, “when stories are used to convey the same information, retention jumps to a remarkable 65 to 75%.”

Now, understanding the importance of storytelling, what makes an engaging story? How do marketers create a desired feeling and experience for their consumers to help drive brand connection?

Matthew Luhn, story consultant and animator known for his work in Pixar movies such as Toy Story, Ratatouille and Inside Out, shares five core elements he believes all great stories should possess:

  1. Hook
  2. Character transformation
  3. Connection with the audience
  4. Authenticity
  5. Structure
  • Hook:

The hook relates to the story’s core theme. In essence, what will draw people in and make them compelled to see what is about to unfold? Luhn explains it usually needs to be something unusual or unexpected to grab the audience’s attention immediately.

  • Character transformation:

Once you have captured the attention of the audience, it is important to take them on a journey. Stories inspire transformation. People tend to live vicariously through characters. It is, therefore, essential to question; what is the message we are hoping to convey, and how will this advertisement effect a change in the consumer?

  • Connection with the audience:

A story may be expertly crafted in hook and transformation, but if you don’t truly understand the audience you are trying to appeal to, it is likely to become lost or ignored. It’s not simply a case of knowing demographics either; a strong comprehension of things like audience values and motivators is critical for connection. Luhn uses the example of Ratatouille:

  • Authenticity

Authenticity is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of storytelling in marketing, Consumers are often wary that they are being advertised to. It is, therefore, important to communicate something that comes from a piece of truth based on enduring insight rather than something that feels manufactured.

  • Structure

Finally, how the story is told is critical for its success. Simply put, structures that comprise a set-up, conflict and pay-off are believed to be most effective in storytelling.

Storytelling is a powerful method of learning. As marketers, we should always seek to learn more about the world we live in, the brands we represent, and the consumers we serve. One of the things that are unique about stories is that they transmit knowledge and meaning. We learn from observations and first-hand experiences and by sharing those experiences through stories.

Storytelling can be a powerful tool that enables marketers to understand what is going on in the marketplace and what that means for the customer, consumer, society, brand, and company.

In addition to being an important strategic tool, storytelling can be an important tactical tool that lets marketers engage consumers in a fragmented media world. Because there is such media fragmentation, consumers are not just looking for different experiences but different delivery. Why should a consumer give you their time? Storytelling isn’t just a creative approach to marketing. It gives your consumers a totally different entry to your brand.

Kenneth Horsfall is the creative director and founder of K.S. Kennysoft Studios Production Ltd, fondly called Kennysoft STUDIOs. Kennysoft STUDIOs is a Nigerian Video and Animation Production Studio. He is also the founder and lead instructor at Kennysoft Film Academy. He can be reached via director@kennysoftstudio.com

Brands/Products

Uncover Skincare Raises $1m to Expand into Nigeria

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Uncover Skincare

By Adedapo Adesanya

Kenya-based Uncover Skincare, which is seeking to revolutionise the beauty and personal care sector through data-led manufacturing, has raised a $1 million seed fund to expand into the Nigerian market.

The funding round saw the participation of FirstCheck Africa, Samata Capital, Future Africa, IgniteXL, in addition to angel investors, ex-SokoWatch COO, Kwenhui Tawah, and ex-L’Oreal executive and current WPP Scangroup CEO, Patricia Ithau. The new funding brings the total amount raised by Uncover, since its launch in 2020, to $1.225 million.

The company recently introduced a new range of skin products in the market, with plans to launch more next year. Its products are sold through its online platform, on marketplaces, and in the stores of partner brands.

Uncover was launched after incubation at Antler. It uses African botanicals and outsources its manufacturing to Korean original design manufacturers, who they say ensure its products are healthy, safe, affordable, and effective.

Speaking with Tech Crunch, the co-founder and chief executive officer of the company, Sneha Mehta, said, “We are using the funding to launch more products, go into additional markets, and also double down on our tech and data to effectively produce, reach and market to our audience.

“Our production happens in Korea (one of the world’s biggest beauty markets), where we are leveraging the best technology, labs, and scientists in the world who understand stability testing, safe ingredients, and formulations. We are able to deliver because women in our community have graciously provided information and tried our products to help us formulate specifically for this market,” said Mehta.

The startup also offers virtual consultations through an in-house esthetician, and produces skin-tertainment content to reach more users, and recently introduced a skin quiz for personalized recommendations.

The CEO said since launching, the startup’s revenue has grown 20-fold, buoyed by the growing demand for its products and the community it continues to build.

“We have had incredible traction since, and our community has grown from zero to about 60,000 women in Kenya in two years… we have built brand awareness, loyalty, and our values of education and, knowledge and empowerment have been established at the market,” she said.

Uncover hopes to continue building and strengthening this community, starting with Kenya and Nigeria, which are the next major beauty and personal-brand markets in the continent after South Africa.

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Interswitch Showcases Innovative Products to Sierra Leone

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Interswitch

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Stakeholders in the financial ecosystem in Sierra Leone have been introduced to a variety of innovative products and solutions from Interswitch, Africa’s leading integrated payments and digital commerce company.

These products are targeted at commercial banks, microfinance banks, fintechs, other financial institutions, and the general public.

The initiative is part of the company’s determination to further deepen its expansion beyond the shores of Nigeria.

Interswitch executed this task by organising its first breakfast session in the West African nation tagged Accelerating Growth and Profitability – Leveraging Technology to Win.

The event provided key insights and explored robust opportunities for businesses in Sierra Leone to continue to evolve.

Speaking at the session, the Group Head of Sales, Payment Processing and Switching at Interswitch Purepay, Mr Olubunmi Aina, stated that businesses in Sierra Leone are set to enjoy seamless operations, especially as pertaining to payments.

“At Interswitch, our core objective is to deliver an Africa where payments are a seamless and invisible part of everyday life, and we have carried this vision with us for the past 20 years.

“Interswitch is committed to the advancement and penetration of digital payments in Africa as a whole. We continue to create innovative solutions that enable individuals and communities to prosper across the continent.

“Today, we are in the Sierra Leone market to provide customers and businesses with secure and convenient digital payments products and to enhance customer experience,” he said.

At the event, participants were onboarded onto the company’s products, including Postilion Retail Payment, Interswitch Banking-as-a-Service, Interswitch Payment-as-a-Service, agency banking and card fusion.

The company stated that these products and solutions would allow customers such as financial institutions, banks, fintechs and microfinance banks to offer topnotch digital payment solutions to their customers. Also, with these products, businesses will enjoy enhancement opportunities and better customer experiences. Likewise, financial institutions will be able to rapidly integrate with newer payment channels with intuitive technologies.

“It is no longer news that the deepened penetration of digital payments is helping to boost Africa’s economy. We are not resting on our oars but will continue to innovate solutions to further elevate Africa’s payments landscape as a whole,” Mr Aina stated.

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How SMEs Can Take Advantage of Social Media Advertising for Scalability

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Social media advertising

By Otori Emmanuel

For every company out there, there is an in-depth goal to increase its market share in both the local and global market space. The profit margin of a company is largely dependent on the audience at its disposal.

Before now, companies have used various forms of advertising to promote their product in order to reach their target audience, including traditional forms like newspaper publications and radio broadcasts. These ad methods delivered effective results until the masses moved to social media.

Currently, with over 3.7 billion people on different social media platforms engaging their times in ways that make them happy, every business should definitely have a cut of this mass audience as their potential customers.

With people of different demography, gender, age and behaviours all in the social media space, there is absolutely a guarantee that every company’s audience is represented in this space.

Amongst the various forms of advertising, social media ads have recently dominated the advertising sector. Companies have multiple options in the form of platforms which deliver massive results through the audience at their disposal, with Facebook alone having 2.9 billion active users on monthly intervals.

Also, there are over 10 social media platforms for individuals and organisations to choose from, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, when choosing to promote their brands.

Social media advertising is very effective because of its conversion rate. On average, over 28% of users on the internet have agreed to make choices of brands and products when they see them as ads on the internet.

Over 80% of the United States population is using one or more social media platforms. This has worked for both sellers and buyers. For the buyer, it has created awareness of new products to choose from and updates on existing ones. The promoter or organisation gets the most out of it, as they get to increase sales conversion, grow audience reach, help to understudy competitors and boost brand image. However, this result is tied to how engaging the content is, using the right keywords for written content and clarity for video ads.

Also, deciding the type of content type to create for your ads is a key factor to be considered. Different ad types work differently for different niches and purposes. You could either use ad copy (written text) or use visual content.

Here are a few tips to consider when deciding which content type to go for: Consider what you’re trying to promote and then determine where on which platform your audience is more likely to be represented; What is the conversion rate of such a platform and then decide which content type would work better there between visuals and ad copy.

How to increase your conversion rate, consider these factors:

  • Study and categorize your audience based on their demographics, age, location and psychological factors influencing their behaviours towards brands.

  • Decide the type of ads that would deliver the result you seek.

  • Create compelling content that targets your desired audience using keywords that users can relate to. Place your ads in positions where they’re seen clearly.

  •  Create an appealing landing page with a brief description and a call to action icon to help your visitors make quick decisions. Link this landing page to your ad, and once people visit, swiftly collect their data and follow them as they are your prospective customers.

In conclusion, the result from an ad may not deliver the desired outcome the first time. But certainly, it will leave you with clues to help you improve on subsequent ones. Always track your ad performance and measure conversion rate by dividing conversion by the number of impressions and then multiplying it by 100. The formula is = Conversion/no of Impression * 100. This will help you know the ad or platform that delivered the most results.

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