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Storytelling in marketing: fact or fiction

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story, right? 

Storytelling in marketing is the latest trend that brands worldwide seem to be embracing, but is it all hype, or is it warranted?  

As marketers, we all want our products and services to be interesting and have widespread appeal. It’s the reason so many brands try to position themselves as storytellers. Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone will be interested in the stories you have to tell. 

Marketoonist storytelling

Whether not your product’s story is worth telling is a question you should be asking yourself daily. Are you truthful with your story? Will people even be interested in your story? 

Storytelling should undoubtedly be a part of your marketing efforts, but it shouldn’t be the foundation around which you do everything else. Storytelling is a tool, and it is a tool you should use only when necessary. 

Not all marketing should tell a story

One of the greatest attributes a marketer possesses is the ability to be realistic – both in terms of what you are doing and what you are selling. 

In recent years, it has become quite popular for marketers and brands to champion themselves as storytellers. But we’re still yet to see a Netflix series about a brand. 

Yes, there is certainly a place for storytelling in your marketing efforts, but the keyword here is ‘place’. As hard as some brands may try to pass it off as one, a marketing pitch isn’t a story. 

It’s important to remember that not all marketing is storytelling, and it also doesn’t need to be. If you were to be completely honest with yourself, as a marketer, you would have to admit that most people don’t like being marketed to. If you can accept this, it’s pretty safe to assume that the majority of people don’t really care about your product’s story. 

And that’s OK. Sometimes, a red hat is just a red hat. 

The next time you’re thinking about telling a story, stop and ask yourself a question: does this product or service actually need a story? 

There’s a time and a place for storytelling, and there’s a time and a place to simply sell. Transparency is a good thing. Embrace it. 

If you are going to tell a story, be authentic 

Because so many brands and marketers fail to ask themselves that simple question, you will see endless ‘stories’ that simple lack substance. And what happens when a story lacks substance? You create it. You create it out of nothing. You create it out of an inauthentic place. 

People aren’t stupid. The average consumer can smell when you’re disingenuous from a mile away. If your product or service truly warrants its own story, go for it. If not, leave the creative writing to the professionals.   

Lost on where to start with your brand’s marketing? Check out our Developing a Social Media Strategy webinar

Storytelling in marketing: fact or fiction