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Storytelling In Marketing: Be The Hero Your Customers Need

By June 26, 2014May 13th, 2019Uncategorized

When Russel Crowe played the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator I wanted to be like him; heroic, noble, honest, and brave. I aligned myself with his character’s values. It didn’t matter that I was a girl, or that I lived in the 21st century. His story captured my heart, allowing me to feel his pain, his struggles, and ultimately his victory.  Similarly, you can captivate your audience through your marketing, giving them a desire to align with your company’s brand and become loyal customers.

What’s the key? Great storytelling.

Inbound marketing is all about solving problems. People need that die hard enthusiast to make the trek out into the informational world to collect answers to the issues they are facing. They are looking for quality, reliability, and the performance to back it all up.

As inbound marketers we create valuable content hoping to be the heroes our audience is looking for. We want to lead them to the treasure chest, and hand them the gleaming, golden nuggets they’ve been searching for. In telling a story we deliver our content in a way that converts leads into customers, and makes our content more enjoyable and relatable, thus more lovable and worthy of sharing.

Your Information Alive

Our brains are complex and process certain information in different ways. Research has found that hearing descriptive words like “velvet” or “cinnamon” increased the brain’s activity, while other words like “pleasing” or “strong” did not. We want our content to be noticed, used, and shared; therefore, using more descriptive words in your content will elicit a stronger response from your readers. Consider these words the building blocks to creating your best stories.

Creating the social connection

Research from Paul Zak of the University of California, Berkeley says that our brains become more engaged when we hear a story than when we see a list of facts. Being innately social, we communicate best through telling about our situations, giving visuals, and stirring up emotions. This allows others to empathize with us, because, most likely, they have been in our shoes once before.

In marketing, adding your own story can create a connection between you and your audience that numbers never will. If it’s not your story you want to tell then tell someone else’s story, or give an example using a fictional, but relevant story line that your audience can relate to. Give them something personal to connect with. Humanize your brand.

Personal Connection Gone Viral

Giving your audience a personal connection is their portal into your world. Through this they can relate to your feelings, thoughts, goals, and values. Your products or services will begin to stand out from your competitors, because you have begun to gain your customer’s trust. They can internalize your message and make it their own (think Toms Shoes, Apple, or Starbucks). Once they have made it their own they can begin to share your message for you. This is the ultimate in brand loyalty, and continues the inbound marketing cycle.

Simple Structure For Telling Your Story

Stories need to be vibrant and compelling. Think about your favorite stories and why you love them so much. You can apply the storytelling formula to your marketing. It’s simple.

  • Present a problem – The princess is cursed i.e. your customer has a flat tire and is worried about safety
  • Give the solution – The prince has a magic sword to kill the evil fairy who cursed the princess i.e. you have quality, well priced tires that work well in any weather.
  • Show how the solution fixed the problem – The prince kills the evil fairy, and sets the princess free from her curse i.e. your customer buys the tires and can now drive themselves and their family around safely.


Storytelling in marketing isn’t about being complicated. While we want to create that emotional connection we don’t have to drag our customers through a dramatic saga. Simple, succinct stories can be easier to remember and have a longer lasting effect. Whether it be your story, someone else’s story, a metaphor, or even a joke you can draw their attention, and speak to their hearts.

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.