If you want your marketing campaigns to succeed, you need to find your storytelling sweet spot, meaning you need to provide people with something of value while reinforcing your own brand story. Of course, this can be a bit tricky. But we’ve found that you can usually transform a good idea into a truly great campaign by finding the right angle (and creative execution) for your story. Luckily, there are plenty of examples of brands that have done this perfectly.
5 Storytelling Tips from Great Marketing Campaigns
From small nonprofits to global brands, here are five creative marketing campaigns that perfectly match their message with their medium. If you’re looking for your own inspiration, here’s what you can learn from each, plus our best tips to help you bring your ideas to life. Enjoy.
Tip 1: Humanize Your Problem
Everyone In is a campaign focused on ending homelessness across Los Angeles county by providing critical services and housing to those who need them most. Tasked with the challenge of mobilizing Angelenos to join their cause, they needed a marketing campaign to spotlight the people they help while reinforcing the organization’s mission.
To do this, they teamed with These Streets Magazine, a photo magazine that dedicates each issue to a different city, to create a series of short documentary films that tell the stories of people struggling with homelessness in Los Angeles. This up-close-and-personal look is both emotional and powerful, creating instant empathy for the people living this reality.
What you can learn: Facts and statistics are worthwhile, but no matter what your brand’s product or service is, think of how you can speak to the real human issue underneath. (For more on this, you can follow our tips to use empathetic storytelling.)
Tip 2: Show Your Value Prop at Work
The Campaign: “Real Life Series” by Ikea
Ikea’s vision is to “create a better everyday life for the many people” by offering affordable, well-designed, functional furniture that anyone can enjoy. And just to show how wide-ranging their furniture is, their brilliant “Real Life Series” marketing campaign recreated famous pop culture living rooms from TV shows like The Simpsons, Friends, and Stranger Things.
Beyond the immediate recognition (and nostalgia) of these spaces, Ikea effectively tapped into their playful nature while telling their core brand story: That their products can create a home for anyone, whether it’s an all-American suburban family or a group of hip professionals in New York.
What you can learn: No matter what you do, your product or service provides value to people. Communicating this story in your marketing campaigns is crucial to connect with people, so look for ways to reinforce it in creative ways. For a little more inspiration, check out these examples of creative storytelling for boring products, and try these tips to tell your brand story in your next campaign.
Tip 3: Lead With Your Values
The Campaign: “Cities Talk Back” by Lyft
“America is an idea, not a geography” is the story of Cities Talk Back, a powerful campaign by Lyft. As many of their drivers are immigrants or first-generation Americans, the brand believes their “diverse driver community should be valued and celebrated.”
So, to garner fundraising for RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services), Lyft created a digital experience that spotlights their drivers’ unique stories.
From displaced Somalian war refugees to first-generation lowrider fans, the stories are a unique look into American life today, helping Lyft make a bold statement about its support of these communities.
What you can learn: Brands who want to build lasting relationships need to communicate their values effectively, and Lyft does a fantastic job by putting their beliefs front and center. If you want to attract the right people, check out more ideas to showcase your values through content.
Tip 4: Break a Stereotype
The Campaign: “Women & Investing” by Charles Schwab
Financial investment has long been a man’s game, but Charles Schwab is hoping to change that through a female-focused campaign to educate and encourage women to invest. Through a wealth of content, including checklists, educational slideshows, and a mini-documentary series that showcases different women taking control of their finances, they are telling new, fresh stories for a much-neglected demographic.
What you can learn: No matter your industry, there are likely long-held beliefs, myths, or stereotypes that may not necessarily be true. Subverting these ideas can be an intriguing way to connect with people, and it can make your content more newsworthy. One great way to find these stories is to dive into your data. Here are 100+ free data sources, 9 places to look for data in your own company, and our best tips to extract stories from that data.
Tip 5: Experiment With Different Formats
The Campaign: “Searching for Salai” Podcast for SAP Leonardo
It’s easy to get stuck in a content rut, producing the same type of content over and over. But sometimes new products call for new ideas. With the advent of their new branch SAP Leonardo, SAP was eager to drive awareness to the platform through fresh, creative storytelling—and they took a risk with an entirely different format.
Through “Searching for Salai,” a 9-part sci-fi narrative podcast, they examined how technology fits into the lives of everyday people. While you might not think a tech company would dive into fiction, the story centered around themes that align with their work: the intersections of people and technology. (The risk paid off, as they also took home “Content Marketing Project of the Year” from the 2019 Content Marketing Institute Awards.)
What you can learn: Sometimes you need to experiment to make an impact. Whether you’re looking to tell a different story or trying a totally different content format, look for ways to take risks—even on a small scale. To start, check out these 5 content formats to experiment with.
How to Improve Your Next Marketing Campaign
We hope these examples have inspired you to think outside the box. And if you’re ready to start your next marketing campaign, here are a few more tips to set yourself up for success:
- Follow best practices. Find out how to run successful marketing campaigns from start to finish, and find out how to avoid the most common mistakes.
- Brainstorm better ideas. Here are 7 prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
- Create compelling content. Find out how to improve your content creation process.
- Promote the right way. Follow our handy distribution strategy checklist to come up with a solid plan.