Imagine falling in love with a product from just a photo. From the instant you first saw it, you knew you absolutely had to have it.

That was the case for Dirk Schulz. His father was a car buff, and like his father, he was also a huge car fan from as far back as he could remember. All it took was one look at a picture of a BMW Z1 and he was immediately hooked—a transformative experience for him and a powerful brand story for BMW.

Benefits of Storytelling for Brands

Storytelling can drive engagement and bottom-line growth. According to a recent study published by MITSloan Management Review, people who were exposed to stories about brands had significantly higher levels of connection to, and trust in, those brands. Why?

At its core, consumer-based storytelling can do something no list of product features or tri-fold brochure can ever accomplish—create an emotional and memorable connection. In many cases, they can actually see themselves in the story. They can visualize and internalize the experience. They become psychologically involved.

Consumers were 32% more likely to make a purchase when consumer-based storytelling was employed.

The Power of Consumer Stories in Digital Marketing

How to Tell Your Brand Story

You don’t have to be a luxury automaker to tell a compelling consumer-based story. Every business potentially has a “Dirk Schulz”—you just have to find them.

  1. Reach out to your customers. Ask them to share their experiences and their stories. Understand what motivates them to buy from you versus one of your competitors.

  2. Leverage social media. Start by monitoring online reviews and social media comments to identical potential story ideas. Use relevant hashtags to share content and drive engagement. For example, BMW used #BMWstories to coincide with their marketing campaign.

  3. Create an emotional connection. Capturing consumer stories in their own words helps to form an emotional connection that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Whether you use video, pictures, or written content, you want your stories to immediately pull in your target audience.

  4. Align consumer-based and brand stories with your overall brand message. Ultimately your stories are only effective if they’re the right story for your brand. First and foremost they need to be authentic while also echoing what makes your business and your brand unique. Back to the BMW example, in just under two minutes the customer mentions a number of powerful themes/messages that directly align with the brand: “fascinated by the design,” “top-notch quality,” “no comparison,” “completely new concept,” “harmony,” and “nice salesperson.”

  5. Integrate brand storytelling into multi-channel marketing mix. Beyond social media, also look for opportunities to share stories via your website, email newsletters, TV advertisements, etc.

Marketing personalization starts with stories. By capturing the experiences, emotions, and testimonials of your customers in their own words, you’re creating unique and compelling opportunities to form new connections with consumers and build trust in your brand.

What story do you want your brand and your consumers to tell?