Great Storytelling is the Secret to Making Your Advertising Stand Out from the Crowd

It drives sales, profits and helps businesses thrive. 

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Analysts are forecasting the advertising industry is surging back this year. 

Brian Wieser from GroupM predicts "In 2021, the American advertising industry is poised to regain all that it lost in 2020 and more.” 

As a owner and entrepreneur, that can be discouraging news. In a world flooded with text messages, news, advertisements and constant connection to social media apps, you already know how hard it is to cut through all the noise and connect with both your customers and potential customers. 

It’s been well established that advertising — and the world in which we consume advertising — has changed in the last several decades. In the 1970s, the average person saw between 500 and 1,600 ads per day. Today, the average person is estimated to see between 6,000 and 10,000 ads every day. 

Social media platforms have played a large role in that increase. Users upload at least 300 hours of video to every minute. processes 40,000 searches every second. Users post 46,740 new photos to every minute, and 300 million photos to every day. 

So as a business owner, how do you cut through that noise? The answer lies in your ability to tell a story worth repeating.

Storybrand-style marketing has almost become a cliche in the last 10 years. And like all good cliches, it’s a cliche for a reason. It’s formulaic because it works. Great storytelling drives , profits and helps businesses thrive. 

But it’s one thing to tell a story. It’s another to tell a story that stands out enough to trigger a response from your audience, to get them to engage and share your content.

Related: 3 Tips for Mastering Storytelling as a Small Business Owner

Telling a good story is actually very nuanced. Think about how many stories you hear on a daily basis. From the stories your toddlers or teens tell you to the news you hear on your drive to work to the stories you read online, you can only remember so many. Only a few stick in your mind for very long. And only the very best end up being good enough to repeat to your friends or coworkers.

Good stories — the best stories — move people so much they want to engage with them and tell them to others.

You can break down these effective, noise-cutting storytelling into four main categories:

Controversial stories

This is the type of story or content that gets shared because it riles people up. The problem with controversy is that people know half of their audience will like the story, while the other half might be put off by it, so people think twice about sharing it. 

Fear-inducing stories

Fear can also be a powerful motivator in stories, because it strikes at people’s tribal instincts to act in their best interest. They might share the content you create out of concern for others’ best interests, but it also might reveal vulnerability they aren’t ready to share.

Endearing stories

These perform well because they are heartwarming. People want to feel good, and stories that endear your brand to them give them positive feelings. 

Humorous stories

People choose to share content because they want to add value to their network, and humor always does that. It’s universally about putting a smile on people’s faces. can take advantage of this by providing humor that adds value to their customers — and potential customers — by incorporating humor into their stories and ads.

Related: Why Storytelling Is a Skill that Every Entrepreneur Should Practice

But how can you tell if your stories are actually effective and are resonating with your target audience?

The most basic baseline for judging effective advertising is conversions. This is especially crucial when your business is first starting out, because if your product or service isn’t selling you won’t stay alive for long. 

But even after making it past the early stages of growth, many businesses and marketers fail to move past the conversion-only metric. The problem is conversion-driven storytelling can make you appear like a used car salesman, doing whatever it takes to get someone’s attention and make a quick sale. This strategy can yield short-term gains but jeopardize the longevity of your business.

You'll need more if you truly want to cut through the noise, drive sales and engender lasting customer loyalty. 

For long-term success, advertisers need to expand their metrics beyond just conversion results to examine how people are engaging with and sharing their stories. These longevity-minded marketers also take into consideration reactions, comments and shares.

You might protest that these are just vanity metrics. And they can be. But they’re also more than that. They help you know whether you’re effectively communicating with your potential customers and creating lifelong, loyal customers.

These so-called vanity metrics are the digital equivalent of a face-to-face conversation with your customer, allowing you to see if your message is resonating and making an emotional connection. 

So rather than dismissing responses and engagement as mere window dressing, realize that they can hold the key to creating an emotional connection with your customers. A connection that will establish your customers as loyal brand advocates, giving you the opportunity to bring longevity and security to your business.

Related: How to Use Storytelling to Sell Your Brand and Vision

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