We all crave stories. We want concepts that are easy-to-understand, we want to be treated like a human, rather than a wallet, and we don’t have the time for ads that have nothing to do with our wants and needs.

This is where storytelling comes into the game. Storytelling is not a squishy, overly emotional, skill that only belongs at slumber parties and hair salons. It’s not a “woman thing” and it isn’t solely reserved for lifestyle companies and Instagram influencers.

Storytelling is for every business.

Storytelling is what gives your brand life and allows your followers to be a part of your journey.

Storytelling 100% belongs in marketing and it starts with relatability.

Marketing content should be familiar

You don’t follow the same companies as your husband for a reason and you have no interest in scrolling through the social feed of your teenager (trust me!). Understanding what makes your company’s audience tick includes getting their sense of humor, knowing their interests, recognizing their struggles, and sensing their motivators. It’s plain and simple: You can’t relate to your audience if you don’t know them. Once you know your customer, and you start producing content that appeals to your followers, storytelling can create connection and drive business. Your customers will begin to see something familiar in your brand. Then that moment happens when they see a piece of content and they say, “That’s so me,” and they take a screenshot and send it to others. That is good storytelling. But just like a comedian or keynote speaker, before any good story begins, you must look in the crowd and see who is looking back. You like content that reminds you of yourself, and so do your followers. Give them content that mirrors their own lives and you’ll be giving them content of value.

Empathetic content pays off

Once you know your audience, an empathetic viewpoint is what will have your supporters saying, “They get me.” It’s all about noticing and remembering the struggles, concerns, obstacles, and goals of your followers, and then responding with a story that connects with their journey. Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes will help with answering questions such as “What do I want to hear from my favorite brand?” or “What content do I value?” It’s about creating relevance through authenticity, from a judgement-free place, without shoving a silver lining down their throats. Empathetic storytelling acknowledges the problem, shows understanding, and shares a story that provides empathy, inspiration, a solution, or all of the above. Empathy is a tool that allows you to become relatable to your audience. Brené Brown says it best: “Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating,” which can be done through storytelling that is relatable from the start.

Relatability creates brand trust

When your company is producing content that is empathetic and relatable, it builds invaluable brand trust. And who doesn’t want brand trust? A story that begins with a component of relatability will convince followers to listen a little more and stick around a little longer. Creating value, not only for your repeat customers, but also for your potential customers, is one of the many ways to show that your company is a trustworthy source of information, products, and services. The simple fact that you get them, represent their perspective well, and provide authentic content of value can save you from an unfollow and keep your competitors at bay. When there is an alignment, a synchronization, or a feeling of “We’re on the same page,” through storytelling, trust will grow organically. Relatability leads to trust, which is an inherent piece of brand loyalty. A story without relatability is like listening to a chef talk about how to find the perfect truffle for your steak tartare when you just need an affordable way to make mac n’ cheese exciting for the third time this week.

Memorable marketing content is the goal

Our target audiences are bombarded by content and messaging all day long, so it’s unrealistic that everything you say will be remembered (or even seen) by your followers. But when it happens, it’s quite magical. Have you ever been at dinner or at a conference when someone quotes a thought leader on social media or brings up a humorous post from someone they follow? That’s relatable storytelling at its best. Have you ever been a speaker and an audience member comes up to you after the event and refers to a blog that you wrote months ago? When you are able to craft messaging and create content that tells a relatable story, and then that story is retold by someone else, you know that you’ve nailed it. Relatable stories with meaningful and relevant details grab attention, create a mood, make a message stick, and hopefully create action or initiate a change in thought or process. If you think of your favorite ads, blogs, or content pieces and why they are memorable to you, you might find that it’s because they resonated with you. The goal then becomes: relate to resonate.

When I say storytelling, it’s not about “Once upon a time,” and it’s not a long, drawn-out tale of triumph over tragedy. It’s a string of relatable content pieces that create a brand story. It’s about using content to create an ongoing, engaging, and interactive journey with your followers.

Stop trying to reach your target audience with detached, salesy, and boring content. Dig deep and release your storytelling instincts. It’s not about simply going through the motions. I don’t care if you sell shoes, own an engineering firm, or sew elephant parachutes: Tell a relatable story and you’ll tell a difference.

Need help with telling your story? Contact us at Lillian James Creative so we can create content for you that is relatable to your following.

Like what you’ve read? Want to share similar content with your organization at your next event? Aaron Fulk, CEO of Lillian James Creative, has graced many stages and speaks about finding your creativity, storytelling, personal branding, and more. Book her for your next event!