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Why customer stories are a crucial piece of marketing strategy

As internet marketing has moved away from banner ads and pop-ups, marketers have moved towards advertising and marketing that tells stories. Seth Godin has said "Great stories succeed because they are able to capture the imagination of large or important audiences." Stories have, after all, been the basis of human interaction for millennia. But why should marketing be focused on stories?
Stories are engaging

“Because we know how stories move forward from one point to another, we quickly engage with stories," says Margarita Hakobyan, CEO and Founder of Movers Corp. “We identify the character that we are rooting for, and we stick with the story to the end to make sure that the character gets a positive resolution. We look for clues as to how the resolution can arrive."

While the business itself can often be the protagonist of the story, many business stories can evoke a ubiquitous “you” who reflects the company’s ideal customer.

When taking this direction, the business can tell stories about how “you” have a problem that needs to be solved. In this situation, the product becomes the solution to the customer’s problem. Anyone who watches TV has seen this type of storytelling many times. A classic example is a mom who is trying to wash her child’s dirty clothing, but can’t get all the stains out until she tries the particular brand of laundry detergent that is being advertised.

Stories have narrative flow

We know how stories go and how content marketing works. We are conditioned to enjoy stories, with their peaks and valleys, their obvious beginnings, middles, and ends. Most stories are formulaic in one way or another, and they either build on our preconceived notions, or work by subverting them. Stories might make us laugh in surprise or draw closer to the storyteller with interest – or both – and a large part of why they do this is their movement.

When building your story, whether it is a single tweet or a long blog article, make sure it has a beginning, middle, and end. Know what your story is, what the conflict is, and what the resolution is. Make sure that once the resolution has been described, you move very quickly towards the end; the reader is there for their Aristotelian catharsis. Once that has been achieved, they’re ready to move on.

Stories build trust

Since we are so familiar with how stories go, we understand that the protagonist should be trusted and engaged with, while the antagonist should be mistrusted. When a business tells a story and positions themselves as the protagonist, they are positioning themselves sympathetically to the audience. Engaging stories also provide an opportunity to earn quality links and a free publicity from industry leaders and trade publications.

This is used every day in news media and press releases where journalists and copywriters tell a story to the reader. The reader feels sympathy towards the protagonist because the story positions them sympathetically.

Stories have a known format

Because viewers and readers are comfortable with the basic format of stories, they are a quick and easy way to engage the reader without feeling like the company is trying to sell something immediately. There are a number of different stories a company can tell on its basic webpage. The story of how the company came to be, the story of the business’s mission, and the story of the different entrepreneurs behind the company are all fair game.

It is important, however, that companies start with the story of how they are going to help their customers. There’s nothing more frustrating to a busy consumer than clicking through to a website and finding a landing page that goes on and on about how the company was formed and how great the company is, but gives absolutely no hint on what the company actually does.

Now, once you’ve committed to telling a story, don’t assume that your story has to happen in words. While many stories are written down, stories can be told through any form of communication. Pictures, videos, and mixed media presentations can all be used to tell a story.

When a business opens itself up to marketing that is based around storytelling, it will find that communicating with its customers is easier. If the business is telling good, engaging stories, they will naturally generate comment and discussion, as opposed to awkward questions set at the end of articles designed to get customers to leave comments. The company will also be ideally positioned to share its marketing through social media, a platform which is incredibly story-focused.

Since stories engage us at the most fundamental level, using them in marketing is common sense. They have been incorporated in visual ads for a very long time, and the design of the Internet means that it’s easier than ever to incorporate story telling into text based marketing.

About Boris Dzhingarov

Boris Dzhingarov graduated UNWE with a major in marketing. He writes for several online sites such as Tech.co, Semrush.com, Tweakyourbiz.com, Socialnomics.net. Boris is the founder of MonetaryLibrary.com and BlogForWeb. You can connect with him at Google +,Twitter, Linkedin or contact him directly at for tips regarding your SEO campaign.

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