Stop “Marketing” and Start Telling Stories Instead

May 9, 2016

If you’re tired of fighting to persuade someone to invest in your healthcare brand, why not just start telling stories?

Some of the world’s most influential companies, like Land Rover, have invested heavily to do just that!

These marketers have recognized that the people they’re trying to serve are busier, more stressed out, and more distracted than ever before. And with tablets and smartphones at their fingertips, there are a zillion other ways they could occupy their time…besides paying attention to marketing pitches.

What’s a savvy healthcare marketer to do?

Stop worrying about “marketing” and start focusing on storytelling instead. Keep reading to find out how.

Why Your Audience Always Has Time for a Great Story

Put most of us in a room and force us to listen to a PowerPoint lecture with hundreds of bullet points, and our brains will shut down. We’ll spend all of our time checking our watches and thinking about the weekend instead of connecting with the presenter.

But what if that same presenter shared a quick anecdote about something funny that happened in his or her childhood? Then we’re all ears!

Everyone has time for a good story. It doesn’t matter if it’s movies or social media, gossip magazines at the checkout counter or even making up ghost stories around the campfire – we’re wired for storytelling.

Stories are how we learn and relate to the world and to those around us. Time and time again, researchers have proven that listening to stories actually engages our brains differently (and more intensely) than listening to “cold, hard facts.”

Storytelling dominates about 65% of all human conversations. When storytelling is such a crucial part of our lives, it makes you wonder why so few marketers give it the attention it deserves!

Telling stories is also a better way to do business. When you engage someone emotionally – something storytelling accomplishes way better than typical marketing – they become much more likely to buy.

How Land Rover Used Storytelling to Sell Luxury Autos

Land Rover has carefully built its reputation as one of the top luxury automobile brands around. They could go on and on about their engines, transmissions, and all the other cool gadgets they put in their vehicles that make them superior in quality to their competitors.

But over the past few years, they’ve shifted their focus away from technical specifications and logical appeals. They’re telling more stories to resonate with their audience emotionally.

Land Rover believes in storytelling so much they commissioned international bestselling author William Boyd, to write a 17,000-word story called The Vanishing Game. His only requirement: feature a Land Rover in the action.

They didn’t stop there either. They dressed up Boyd’s story with music, audio narration, and plenty of animated visuals to deliver a multi-sensory, interactive experience.

land rover 1

You might expect the story to talk about Land Rovers nonstop, but they’re actually only mentioned a few times. Above all, The Vanishing Game is a highly entertaining adventure story with plenty of crazy twists and turns.

There were still opportunities to showcase the automobiles without having them take over the story. Clicking on certain key words linked you to pictures or videos of Land Rovers in action.

Here’s the image that came up when we clicked on the word “door” within the story:

land rover 2

Land Rover thought out of the box to deliver an engaging storytelling experience – one that got people talking and emotionally invested in seeing how it played out – without trying to persuade them like a typical car commercial would.

How to Tell Compelling Stories in the Healthcare World

You don’t have to be a famous novelist (or hire one) to spin a great yarn that inspires action. Simply keep these key things in mind:

  •  Always put the audience first – and keep them there. You’ve probably all sat through a sales presentation that drones on about a topic that the company found fascinating but bored you to tears. That’s no recipe for engagement! Construct your stories with the audience first in mind. What matters to them? What questions are they asking you? What are their struggles?
  • High stakes. All great stories are full of obstacles to overcome and drama to untangle. If there aren’t any real consequences (or they’re too minor to pay attention to) if things don’t work out, there’s no incentive to keep listening. So remember to spell those out!
  • Start where the action is. Stories can be incredible tools to hold your audience’s interest, but only if you grab them right away. In today’s overstimulated world, that means you only have a few seconds. So skip the backstory. Cut straight to the emotional drama weaved throughout your story.
  • Emotions and vivid images trump logic. Did you know that sensory words activate the sensory cortex in your brain? So when someone describes the smell of coffee, our brain reacts as if we are smelling it too. Emotional, image-rich language pulls people into your story because they feel they’re actually going through the scenarios you are presenting. This is an especially important point in healthcare where we tend to fall back on data instead of emotions. Emotions always win.
  • Don’t be afraid to open up. People want to tell stories, but they also want to hear them. So it’s a good idea to let them in. It’s okay to share stories that feel personal and intimate. Let yourself and your brand be a little vulnerable. People will relate not just to a faceless business, but to another human. They’ll connect on a deeper level.

Creating the Human Connection Your Audience Craves

Marketing works best when it doesn’t feel like marketing at all.

Storytelling can help.

You don’t need to spend nearly as much time and effort as Land Rover did to start telling captivating stories. Your stories don’t even have to be made up!

People are telling stories every day. You are. Your customers are. So are your sales reps and people you connect with on social media.

Capturing these experiences and sharing them with the people you want to reach is the fastest path to their hearts.

It’s time to stop worrying about “marketing” so much and think about storytelling instead. You’ll get the precious attention you need, bond with your audience, and resonate with them more deeply than 99.9% of the marketing materials out there. No high-pressure sales tricks needed!

 

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