Humans are emotional animals, and unless you can reach your intended audience on an emotional level, you won’t be making as great of an impact. In fact, research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of ‘likeability’ is the measure most-predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
Storytelling takes advantage of this likeability, and allows marketers of businesses of all sizes to connect with their customers. It does this by providing a compelling, coherent narrative that listeners can project themselves into. This works to bridge the gap between the buyer and the seller, and helps to personalize the message being shared. Simply put, no matter the industry, no matter the audience, the key to establishing a productive, on-going relationship with your customers is storytelling. As such, storytelling is an integral factor in any customer relationship marketing effort.
Although customer relationship marketing may use the same acronym as customer relationship management (CRM), the two concepts are related, but still quite different. And while customer relationship management is a term that collectively refers to the practices, strategies, and tools that are used by companies to manage and analyze customer interactions and data, customer relationship marketing is more focused on building brand loyalty through the use of targeted marketing strategies.
Customer relationship marketing begins with the customer’s first encounter with the brand, and doesn’t stop once a sale is made. Instead, relationship marketers see the sale as the first step towards a mutually-profitable brand relationship that, if properly nurtured, will endure long after the memories of that first sale have faded away. After all, long-term engagement and brand loyalty are more valuable to businesses than single sales. Storytelling furthers the goals of relationship marketers, by eschewing the hard data and facts favored by many marketing campaigns, and relying instead upon the emotional connection generated through compelling narrative.
To better understand this concept, let’s consider two different scenarios:
While both scenarios offer compelling arguments as to why the customer should consider the product, only the second scenario does so in a way that speaks to the emotions of the customer. By creating a situation that is relatable, and by sharing a story with a clear and sympathetic protagonist, potential customers find themselves empathizing, and imagining themselves in the position of the individual in the advertisement. And while the data-focused scenario might be just as effective in generating a sale, it is far less likely than the story-focused scenario to establish an emotional connection.
Research shows that fictional scenarios, such those presenting in novels (or even advertisements) affect the human brain in basically the same way as real-life experiences. This helps to ensure that the experience (real or fictional) and its associated emotional connotation remain with the experiencer. When used in marketing, this attribute allows for impactful, poignant messages which stay with the prospective customer long after the data-heavy numbers of traditional marketing have been forgotten. And this effect isn’t purely subconscious, either; research shows that 92% of customers say they want brands to focus on creating story-driven advertisements.
With the ability to connect with customers on an emotional level serving as a foundation, there are several other, more-specific advantages of using storytelling in customer relationship marketing. Here are three that are worth identifying:
When it comes to advertising, numbers are a great way to prove points and share facts, but they’re just not that effective when it comes to building relationships. If you want your clients to think of your company as more than just a company, you need to develop effective customer relationship marketing campaigns, and that means telling a story. After all, every customer sees him or herself as the hero in their own story, and by creating a relatable scenario in which that hero can overcome identifiable obstacles (with a little bit of help from your business), you’ll be making a place for your organization in the hearts and minds of your clients.
In today’s connected world, every customer interaction matters. Marketing Cloud helps you make the most of every touchpoint, giving you the tools to manage the customer journey across all channels.
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