We chat with Femi Falodun, CEO at ID Africa and ED at BHM Group about the importance of storytelling in effective marketing. Why is storytelling essential, how can small businesses implement this strategy and what are some of the common mistakes brands make? We’ll tackle these and much more in this episode of the #Afrofeaturism PICHApodcast.
Why is it that everyone is talking about the importance of storytelling in marketing lately?
What’s the most convincing way to change someone’s mind or behavoiour or to take a certain action? Through stories. We all grow up with stories, especially in Africa – it is an important tool used to teach and instruct kids. Typical African tales by moonlight – restless kids would sit peacefully and listen. Elders would tell you a story and then they tie in something, usually a lesson, at the end to push a message.
It’s human nature to listen to stories, to tell stories, to wrap information with interesting stories. We do this so that the information is more palatable, can be readily assimilated and easily remembered. Memory works better with interesting stuff – things that touch your heart, makes you laugh or cry. Things that don’t trigger emotions are easily forgettable.
Messages and storytelling go hand in hand. In the digital era, there’s so much going on. In the early days of advertising and marketing there were fewer distractions. There are so many channels and things competing for attention now that you need to do more to grab and keep your target audience’s attention. Whatever you’re saying as a marketer has to be more interesting than everything else going on. You must produce something that is engaging.
Today, Storytelling for marketers is almost as important as storytelling for a Hollywood producer or Nollywood director.Femi Falodun, CEO at ID Africa
Besides the story being engaging, what else helps to break through all the distractions to get heard? What makes for effective storytelling?
- Brevity – People are distracted and busy so they are spending as little time as possible on each piece of content. Keep things brief.
- Colour – Try to be bright and bubbly to draw your audience’s eye. Content like this will get picked up faster than dull, grey content.
- Sound – Opt for sharp, warm sounds.
- Humour – It can be funny or witty. This is one of the key ingredients that make stories move.
How can small business owners use storytelling to connect with their audience? What are some of the tools they can use?
For small businesses, you are constrained by budget so you can’t afford big media but you can afford Instagram posts and a few strategic promotions. Try to tell stories the way Instagram content creators do – look at how they built their followings. For SMEs who are brave, the risks are less and the approval processes are reduced. You can exist on socials the same way influencers and content creators do. Once you’ve built your audience, they will become your ambassadors.
Every small business should also function as a media business.Femi Falodun, CEO at ID Africa
Own your own media, treat your platform like a media organisation would treat their platform but on a smaller scale. Find ways of injecting marketing messages.
Where should you start?
Start by looking at why you are in business. This should be the root of every story your brand tells. Look for the deeper meaning, past the bottom line. How do you benefit your target audience? What is the value you offer, how does it affect real lives? Tell that story.
Why are stories not getting engagement and traction?
It’s always a gamble. There is no magic formula so sometimes you strike gold and sometimes there are factors that cannot be predicted and your content falls flat. There are so many factors to consider: Content, message, channel, format, target audience, timing. Sometimes it’s a hit and a miss. Just don’t beat yourself down when you miss – always look for the next wave to ride. Good marketing is flexible, nimble and consistent.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see brands make when trying to use storytelling in their marketing campaigns?
Brands who are unoriginal and rely on cliches will not make an impact in marketing today. Also, many brands are engaged in influencer marketing that is neither organic or sincere. This is something that audiences are tolerating less and less going forward.
It’s important to remember that people do not wake up wondering what a brand will post on their profile today. This is why you need to make the most of the time people do spend on your page/content. Always come from humility and do everything you can to make the time they send on your content worth every second.