Remember the feeling of sheer captivation you experienced during “story time” at school as a child? You and your classmates huddled up around your teacher, eager to hear a story unfold in front of you. As your teacher began, your imagination transported you into a whole new world where you weren’t sitting on a rug listening to a story; you were fully immersed in the experience.
Today, you can harness the same power of storytelling through video in an effort to captivate and engage your target audience. They key is gaining a better understanding of the art of storytelling and how to translate it to use in video for your cause.
Understanding Storytelling and Its Power
The definition of storytelling can be quite broad; in the simplest of terms, storytelling refers to a means of communicating a specific message in a way that is entertaining and enjoyable for your audience. The art of storytelling in video can be especially compelling in the world of marketing, since working “stories” into a marketing video gives them more of a human touch and makes them more relatable. Stories are able to touch on a viewer’s emotions much more powerfully than a straight-forward advertisement might. And when used effectively, your audience may become so drawn into the story of a video that they don’t even realize they’re being explicitly marketed to; instead, they’re drawn to the story and message at hand—and it’s only subconsciously that they “get” the overall message of your video when all is said and done.
Your Guide to Telling Stories Through Video
Now that you have a better understanding of what storytelling in video entails and how powerful it can be, what are some things you should keep in mind as you make your first attempt at weaving storytelling into a video marketing campaign?
1. Know Your Audience
As with just about any marketing effort, you’ll need to begin by getting to know your target audience. After all, a story or message that appeals to one group may not be so relatable to another group, and the last thing you want is to offend or completely miss the mark with your target audience. This is where taking the time to conduct some legitimate marketing research on your audience can come in handy. Specifically, you’ll want to figure out the types of stories they are interested in and the kinds of messages that appeal to them. From there, you can use this information as a base for beginning to build the characters and personas in your video that will work to create an emotional attachment between your video and your audience.
2. Decide on a Message
Any successful video with storytelling should also convey a single, overarching message. The key here, however, is that the message should not have to be explicitly stated in order to shine through and reach your viewers. If you have too many messages that you’re trying to deliver at once, you’re probably better off creating several different videos to convey each message individually. Otherwise, you may overwhelm and confuse your audience by trying to jam them all into one video. And of course, your overarching message should be heavily influenced by the audience research you have done and the marketing personas you have come up with.
3. Create Distinct Parts
All stories have a distinct beginning, middle, and end—and your video should be no different. As you begin writing out your video script, then, it can be helpful to create an outline where you identify the beginning, middle, and ending portions of your script. This will help to keep you on-track and avoid going off on unrelated tangents in your story, which can throw your readers off and waste time.
In the beginning of your script, you should be focused on setting the scene and introducing any characters that exist. Then, move onto identifying the problem or conflict before completing with a solution and call to action.
4. Be Honest and Genuine
One of the most important aspects of telling a story with any kind of marketing angle attached is to ensure you’re 100% authentic and honest with your audience. For example, if you’re creating a video that uses paid actors to play out real customer testimonials on-screen, you should include a disclaimer about this. Otherwise, your audience could be led to think you’re trying to deceive them or lie to them, which will never be good for your company’s reputation. This doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with your storytelling or message; just be sure to stay authentic and don’t write anything into your script that could leave your audience feeling duped.
5. Keep it Short and Sweet
Today’s attention spans for content—especially on the Internet—are quite low. With that in mind, you probably cannot reasonably expect a person to sit through a 15-minute video. Instead, the shorter and sweeter you can tell your story and convey your message, the better off you’ll be. Of course, this is especially true if you will be paying for any kind of air time for your video (such as for a TV commercial). Even if you have free reign over the length of the video (perhaps you’re uploading it to your website or social media page), it’s best to keep it to a total of a few minutes, at most. You might be surprised at just how powerful of a message you can convey in less than a minute with the right storytelling abilities.
6. Show, Don’t Just Tell
The entire purpose of storytelling through video instead of text is to show your viewers what’s going on, so don’t skimp on visuals or image quality as you record. Images tend to appeal to the emotions more strongly than words alone, so you’ll need to get creative with your use of imagery to really pull off a successful video. If you don’t have much experience when it comes to video editing and other technical aspects of video quality, this may be a situation where it would be worth it to work with a professional.
7. End With a Call to Action
Whether subtle or direct, your video should also end with a call to action that encourages viewers to actually do something. Of course, your call to action will vary depending on your approach. You might want viewers to buy your product or service, or you may be asking for viewers to donate to a certain cause. Either way, your overall message should jive with your call to action and leave viewers feeling compelled to do something now. At the of your video is also a good place to include any links, contact information, or further information your audience may need to take the next steps.
There’s no overstating the power of storytelling in video, especially as it relates to a marketing strategy. Learning the art of storytelling is something that takes time and practice, as well as trial and error. If you need help along the way, an experienced video production company can assist you in turning all your ideas into a beautifully told story that your viewers can experience for themselves.