You’ve probably heard this word being bandied about of late. And yes, it’s a real thing and not just another marketing buzzword. Visual storytelling has become an important way for marketers to communicate, using it to grab their prospect’s attention and lead them on a buyer journey.
So what is storytelling? Keep reading on here to find out all you need to know!
Storytelling is simply packaging the emotions and experiences you want your brand to be associated with. Using an easy-to-follow narrative through visual content, AKA using images and videos to tell a story. A well-told brand story is a great way to:
- Build brand awareness
- Connect emotionally with leads and customers
- Build a community of followers
Being a storyteller is essential in growing a successful business.
How do I start?
By incorporating the use of visuals in telling your brand story. According to research, people remember images more than they do words. Marrying a great brand story with powerful imagery is a great way to create a viral marketing campaign.
Let’s quickly take a look at 2 brands that use Story Arc Definition well – and are reaping the rewards.
1. Squatty Potty
One of the best examples of the power of using creative visual content is that of Squatty Potty. Founded due to one of the co-owners’ constipation, the company sells a device that helps users “poop” properly.
While sales for the device were doing well, they skyrocketed after releasing a video of a unicorn using the device (I know, I didn’t think it was possible for this to get stranger).
The unicorn, together with a narrator, highlighted the benefits of pooping in a squatting position. The video went viral and resulted in $15 million in sales from a $29 product.
That’s the power of visual elements.
Another brand that has nailed its Story Arc Definition strategy (resulting in phenomenal growth) is Nike. Sure, Nike’s products are sports apparel and accessories, but what they actually sell is inspiration – in the form of stories.
By inspiring people from all walks of life to be the best they can be (through amazing videos and posters), Nike has managed to capture people’s hearts – and their pockets.
The result, the brand has become one of the top brands in its niche, but also globally. So is this visual strategy effective in growing a successful business?
If these and many other stories like them are anything to go by, then the answer is a resounding yes.
Types of Effective Visuals You Should Be Using to Grow Your Business
Now that you know what storytelling is and why it’s so effective, let’s briefly look at some types of visual content. You should be using a mixture of these in your marketing campaigns.
It is important to note, however, that different visual content types work best with different audiences and platforms. So know your audience and give them what they want. Let’s get to it then, shall we?
Photos are probably the oldest and most common visual aid in a marketer’s toolbox. They are versatile and can be used anywhere but work especially well on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. An example of an article that uses great photos to tell a story and capture their audience is from Search Remotely and their story on how Covid-19 Proves the Future of Work is Remote.
Memes are the best way to infuse humor into your storytelling. Although it’s easy for those outside your intended audience, they can work wonders when executed well. Use them to make your blog posts and even emails more lively.
Like memes, GIFs are a great way to keep your audience engaged as they are usually lighthearted and easy to digest. They are great for spicing up blog posts or simply keeping your social media followers entertained.
Custom images are those you design yourself in order to help you convey a particular message. These are particularly good for boosting brand awareness and can be used on virtually any platform. Definitely the way to go if you’re thinking of printing custom t-shirts as part of your marketing strategy.
Graphic design is something that anyone can do, using Design Wizard makes it easy to make custom images with personalised design templates.
Charts and Graphs
This next point is particularly important if you’re in an industry that relies heavily on data and statistics. You can use charts and graphs to easily pass on vital information to your audience. Charts and graphs work best in whitepapers and blog posts.
If there’s one visual content type that is fast becoming a fan favorite, it’s video. Video marketing is fast becoming popular among marketers because it can be used to:
- Encourage sales
Just how powerful is video?
Check out these video marketing statistics for 2019 and you’ll definitely see that video is not a luxury – it is a necessity for every business that wants to grow. You can find some great video storytelling inspiration here.
PDFs are a go-to solution when it comes to online documents, such as digital booklets, e-magazines, e-catalogs, etc. But PDF as a format is not very engaging. Online flipbooks, however, are a whole different story.
You can turn your static PDF document into an interactive online publication with videos, images, pop-ups, GIFs, and outbound links to support your content and keep a reader entertained. Not only are online flipbooks more interactive, but they also offer a more traditional visual experience, since they look just like printed publications made digital, down to a page-turning effect.
You may not be aware of this but you can open PDFs in Google Docs as well.
Animations are a great way to creatively market your products and services. The best part is that animations can be made on a small budget and yet have a big impact on your marketing efforts.
Need to convey a message quickly and in an easy-to-understand way? Then infographics should be your go-to medium.
Since people process images faster than text, infographics are a great way to adapt to people’s ever-decreasing attention spans.
While emails are not the normal type of visual communication, it’s important to note that visual emails are one of the most powerful ways of growing a successful business. From brand awareness to lead nurturing, you can use visual elements in your emails to achieve almost any marketing goals. Pro tip: Visually combine emails that send on best email sending time deliver a better ROI than the emails sent in an untimely manner.
Now that you know the different kinds of Story Arc Definition you can use to increase the impact of your storytelling, let’s move on and take a look at some reasons you need to use storytelling marketing to grow your business.
5 Reasons You Need visual content to Grow Your Business
Traditional marketing methods (think billboards and even pop-ups) are losing their effectiveness in helping businesses drive revenue and growth. That’s one reason you need to employ some sort of images or videos in your marketing. Here are 5 more:
1. Stories Create an Emotional Attachment
Since time began, stories have been the fabric that has bonded families and communities together. They are also a great way for you to grow your business.
The reason is simple – stories are an easy way to emotionally connect your audience to your product. While most people think they make purchasing decisions based on data and logic, studies prove that this is just a notion. When evaluating brands, consumers primarily use feelings.
This is why content is important – it gives your prospects an experience of your product even before they use. And if the experience is good enough, it triggers positive emotions whenever they see your brand. The result, of course, is an increase in sales.
Emotion is vital and plays a very important role in growing a loyal customer base and ultimately, a successful business.
2. Visuals Help Convey Your Message Clearly
You’ve probably heard it a gazillion times – a picture speaks a thousand words. Cliche as it may sound, this is a truth you need to act on as you market and grow your business.
If you want to convey a complex message in an easy-to-understand way, that’s exactly why you should employ these techniques.
Besides making it easy to convey your message, visual storytelling are also a great way to cut across language and cultural barriers. If your business serves clients and customers from different regions, content marketing will help you to grow your business in those areas by affording you a universal language you can use to convey your message clearly.
To succeed in this, ensure your visual storytelling is:
Most importantly, make sure there’s no room for your story and content to be misunderstood.
3. Boost Brand Awareness
Another great reason you need to employ the use of video or creative images in your business growth strategy, is that it helps boost brand awareness.
Sure you’ve invested a lot in a beautiful, eye-catching logo, but all it can help you with is establishing your brand identity. To increase brand awareness, you need to do something memorable.
You need to hook your audience with a story. A story told well, and with great pictures to support your brand story is an asset you can use in multiple locations.
Take your time to craft your story and be careful in your selection of content. If you nail your storytelling marketing, chances are your brand will go viral, bringing you tons of business. Remember Squatty Potty? Point made.
4. A Good Way to Grab Attention
Marketing has become difficult due to the tough competition in every industry. With many businesses clamoring for an individual’s attention, getting noticed has never been harder.
You need to do something different – you must be disruptive in your approach.
One way to be disruptive in your marketing is through – gorilla storytelling. Disruptive storytelling involves causing a shock through your story. This involves:
- Telling your story in such a way that it causes a bit of controversy
- Touching certain nerves that your audience relates to
- Offering your customers a unique experience (think Netflix vs Blockbuster)
So go ahead and cause a scene with your disruptive storytelling. Once you grab your audience’s attention, it will be difficult for them to go to your competitors.
5. Storytelling Helps You Express the Value of Your Product/Service
One of the biggest challenges marketers and salespeople face is showing the true value of their products or services.
Expressing the value and benefits of a product is hard to do with words. So, instead of trying to tell your customers what your product can do, show them.
In this case, video and animation become your best friend as these make it easy to show prospects exactly what they will benefit from using your product/service.
How can you pull this off?
Create a story in which your product is the hero and a common pain point being the antagonist. You can also disrupt your market by helping your rival out.
A good example of this is when Burger King didn’t sell their signature sandwich, the Whopper, for a day to increase McDonald’s sales as they were supporting a charity on that day. While a stunt like that may seem counterintuitive, it brought a lot of attention to Burger King. It also increased the perceived value of the Whopper.
Struggling to show your target audience the value of your product?
Then it’s time to get creative!
How to Effectively Use Visuals in Your Storytelling
Let’s quickly look at 3 important factors you must consider to successfully grow your business with storytelling.
1. Understand Your Audience
One thing you need to understand that for your brand story to be effective, it has to be about your audience. Yes, your brand (or product) is the hero of the story, but your story should be about what it can do for your audience.
It’s because of this that you need to understand your audience. This will help you, not only create a story they love, but it will also help you to pick the right visuals. Learn more on what customers want in 2021 by downloading our FREE ebook, ‘Creative Ideas to Increase Sales‘.
2. Craft Your Brand Story
Once you have all the audience insights, your next step is to craft a story – for your audience. Apart from creating a brand story in which your brand is the hero, here are 3 other tips for crafting an effective story:
- Create a moving story through social responsibility. Find a cause to support and create a story around it, weaving your brand in.
- Get inspiration from a contemporary news story. While no one likes bad news, if your business has a solution, capitalize on that and create a story around it. For example, when Yahoo got hacked back in 2013 (but only revealed it in 2016) Mozzy built a marketing campaign around the data breaches.
- Let your customers tell your brand story. From user-generated content to reviews, letting your customers tell your story is one of the best ways to create authentic stories. And authenticity is key in growing a successful business.
For greater impact, use relevant and powerful elements to help tell your story. Which brings us to our last point.
3. Identify the Best Way to Boost Your Story
So how do you pick the right stuff to bolster your story? Here are 3 simple tips:
- Use images and videos your audience loves. It’s all about your audience after all. For example, charts and graphs work well in a B2B setting but will bomb in a B2C story.
- Use the right media for the right platform. Different platforms favor different media types. For example, YouTube is mainly for videos while Pinterest is best for images.
- Ensure your visuals align with your brand personality. If your brand has a fun and laid back personality, it’s best to use content that match. On the other hand, if you’re more of a formal brand, then your choice of media should convey that.
However, at the end of the day, it’s important that you play around with different media types to see which one converts best.
Every Business Needs to Grow
Growing a successful business is both an art and a science. And visual storytelling is the intersection of the two disciplines. Done well, your story could go viral, and of course, result in a ballooning bottom line.
Use a variety of different visuals to build your story It’s only yours to tell, so make sure you do it right.
Shahid Abbasi is the UX researcher, SEO specialist and serial content marketer. He helps individuals and agencies with online marketing by bringing them traffic, sales, revenue growth and creating thought leadership. He servers UI UX design and digital transformation on Cruzine. He also shares SEO and content marketing stories on MarketerSearch. Connect with Shahid on Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Buffer