Storytelling For Video Marketing

Using video storytelling to achieve consistent success can feel increasingly difficult, especially if you aren’t a video production agency. Despite this, marketing gurus emphasize the critical role of storytelling in video content strategy. So, how can you leverage video storytelling to build revenue reliably? Is there a straightforward strategy that anyone can follow? Absolutely!

Research shows that a simple message delivered in a storytelling format can be 22 times more effective than facts. While it might seem obvious that storytelling is more effective than straight facts, many people still resort to using mostly fact-based content in their marketing without even realizing it! Let’s face it, facts are easy for most people, while video storytelling is not. That’s why they usually hire a video production company.

But video storytelling can be much easier than you think. In fact, you are already a great storyteller because you do it all the time with close friends and family. In this guide, we’ll explore both the importance of storytelling and provide tips and techniques to improve your storytelling skills in marketing.

Importance Of Storytelling In Marketing

You could fill a blimp with all the boring content people are using to attempt to make sales. But you probably think your stuff is different, right? Let me be the voice of truth: if you aren’t using storytelling, you’re no different. To stand out and attract people to your business, start storytelling. Here are five epic reasons why.

  1. Decisions Are Made Because of Emotions
    Did you know it has a specific part for decision-making and another for making those decisions seem rational? Decisions are always emotional. People who can’t use emotions when making decisions are clinically considered psychopaths. Facts and data don’t evoke emotions or drive decisions and sales, but emotions do. And what triggers emotions? Stories! Good stories are emotional torpedoes aimed right at the heart. Sell to the heart, and the brain will follow.
  2. Stories Add Value to Your Product
    When I was a kid, I went on a seemingly boring field trip to the library. We were looking for information in an extremely old book, the only existing copy. It was kept in a dark room, could only be handled with special white gloves, and viewed for just 15 minutes. This story made the book seem incredibly valuable. Attaching a story to a product significantly increases its value.
  3. Stories Help the Buyer Relax and Listen
    People can only focus on one thing at a time. A compelling story holds their attention longer, possibly long enough for their decision-making brain to engage. If your story creates emotional changes and tension, your customer will relax and be easier to influence. People resist being sold to but can’t resist a great story!
  4. Stories Make Facts Easier to Remember
    By inserting facts into the rhythm and pacing of a story, they become tied to something more exciting than just boring old stats. An article I read in The Guardian says: “Most of our ways of understanding the world are narratives of one form or another, whether serious or scientific stories.” – Ed Cooke. This means we understand through stories. If you can include things in your story like a 300lb squid or a fire-breathing caterpillar, you can hook your facts into the mind of your audience. Even better, borrow from Hollywood movies! Include them in your stories to make them more memorable.
  5. Stories Are Visceral
    This means you really feel it in your gut! When your story is really good, not only does it remain in your audience’s mind, but they can feel it in their body. Your senses respond as if it is actually happening to you! Storytelling stimulates parts of our mind that are only active when we viscerally experience something. That’s why when you are at a movie like Bond, Mad Max, or Avengers, you’re on the edge of your seat. On some level, your mind and body believe it’s real.

How To Make a Storytelling Video

Creating a compelling storytelling video for marketing purposes involves careful planning and creativity. Above all, you need a strong understanding of the story you want to convey. Once you have identified your core message, the next major step comes down to one important choice — either producing the video yourself or working with a professional marketing agency specializing in video marketing. Here’s an overview of each of these two processes:

DIY Storytelling Videos

For businesses or brands just starting out, budget flexibility for marketing may be slim. Luckily, advancements in video production and editing technology have made it possible for anyone to try their hand at video storytelling.

To create a DIY storytelling video, follow these steps:

  1. Define your story and audience: Assess your brand history and company values to find the stories that resonate best with your audience. Knowing your target audience requires you to understand the specific challenges your product or service addresses and the benefits it offers.
  2. Create a storyboard: Once you have the message and narrative of your video thought out, create a storyboard to map out the scenes and sequence of your video. Storyboards help you visualize the narrative before filming the video and ensure a logical flow to the story.
  3. Gather your equipment: For the best quality results, you need to use specific equipment to film and produce your video. Items like a high-quality camera, a tripod, lighting kits, and external microphones can all help to create a more clean and professional-looking video.
  4. Film your video: Set up a quiet environment or choose a quiet outdoor setting to film. Ideally, your background should be free from distractions and any background imagery should align with your branding. Always record multiple takes and b-roll footage to have ample content to work with during the video editing process.
  5. Edit your video: Depending on your experience level, this can be one of the most difficult steps. Video editing takes time to develop as a skill, especially when creating a distinct style within your edits that matches your brand’s tone. Both Windows and Mac PCs come with built-in video editors for basic editing needs, or you can try paid programs like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro, though these programs do come with a steep learning curve.
  6. Publish your video: Share your video on social media platforms and your website. If you plan on adding your video to an ongoing ad campaign, take the necessary steps on your chosen platforms to get your video promoted to your target audience.

Professional Video Marketing Agency

If creating a storytelling video on your own sounds like too big of a task, fear not — plenty of marketing agencies today offer video marketing services. 

Here’s an overview of the professional video marketing agency process:

  1. Consultation: Most agencies will schedule an initial consultation with you to ensure their style and capabilities match your vision for video content. During this consultation, you can discuss your goals, budget, target audience, and core messaging.
  2. Concept development: With your goals and needs in mind, the agency can then develop a video concept to pitch to you. This concept pitch will typically include a storyboard with a defined storyline, a visual style, and an overall tone for the final script.
  3. Pre-production: When you work with a professional marketing agency, all of the pre-production tasks are handled on your behalf. This can include location scouting, talent casting, scheduling, and obtaining equipment. Additionally, the agency sources the equipment and ensures it provides a high-quality final product.
  4. Video production: With the filming schedule and pre-production tasks taken care of, all you need to do is show up. If you are not planning on being in the video, you can act on the sidelines as a producer or leave it up to the agency’s dedicated video production team.
  5. Post-production: The post-production process consists of the entire editing process. During this step, the marketing agency will generally ask you to review the footage and edits as they are completed to ensure all final content matches your branding.
  6. Distribution: When the video is complete, the marketing agency can help you develop a comprehensive distribution strategy to target the right channels and optimize your video’s reach. Some agencies even offer analytics and performance-tracking services for video content.

Video Storytelling Techniques

Choose A Desired Emotional Response

As a video agency, we never start crafting a story without a clear goal. First, we decide how we want the viewer to respond emotionally. A simple strategy is to pick a specific emotion to elicit. Emotions drive major decisions, and research supports this: “Emotional responses to content are more influential on purchasing decisions than the content itself, so brands need to make sure they hit the ideal levels of arousal.” – HubSpot.

When a decision-maker evaluates your brand, you want to evoke a strong emotional response. The truth is, the brand that invokes more emotion wins the sale. Pick one emotion, focus the story on invoking that emotion in your viewers, and you will start seeing more success.

Create A Voice For Your Video Storytelling

Once you’ve decided on the specific emotion to invoke, it’s time to clarify the voice of the video story. This could be someone of authority in your company, like the CEO, or an actor portraying your ideal client. Using an actor often works best because new clients relate more to current clients than to an authority figure. They want to see someone who was in their position and has transcended it by working with you.

 Video Storytelling Tips

 1. The Inciting Incident

The inciting incident propels your client into action, disrupting their status quo. Known as the Call to Adventure in Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, it signifies a need for change. For example, in Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker’s family is destroyed, forcing him on his Jedi journey.

In business, it might be why you started your company or pursued a degree. Use this to hook your audience’s attention at the beginning.

2. Address the Conflict

The hero, now thrust into a new world, inevitably encounters conflict and adversity. Conflict is the highlight of your story and the most critical part of any marketing campaign. It attracts your audience by reminding them of their own struggles, and seeing the hero overcome obstacles inspires them.

Identify and incorporate the obstacles your clients face, such as:

  • Feelings of overwhelm
  • Stepping out of their comfort zone
  • Fear of failure
  • Competitors thwarting their progress
  • Changing established routines

By weaving these challenges into your narrative, you create a story that resonates emotionally with your audience.

3. The Chekhov Principle

The Chekhov Principle states that elements introduced at the beginning of the story should reappear by the end, transformed in some way. This creates consistency and relevance in your content.

Chekhov famously said, “If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.”

In your business, your clients can be the “rifle.” Show how they have transformed from where they started because of you. This transformation grounds your story and highlights the evolution, creating a powerful narrative.

4. Use Proven Story Structure

Effective storytelling relies on a proven structure: beginning, middle, and end.

  • Beginning: Set up a problem relevant to your ideal client.
  • Middle: Introduce the solution, positioning your brand as the cure.
  • End: Highlight a transformation, showing improved life thanks to your brand.

5. Use Hero vs. Villain Concepts

Great stories feature a hero and a villain. Cast your client demographic as the hero and your brand as the mentor. This builds trust and relatability.

6. End with a Call to Action (C.T.A)

Your video should lead viewers to a specific action. Decide on one clear step and make it evident at the end of your video. Avoid multiple calls to action to prevent confusion and decrease your ROI. Examples of effective CTAs include:

  • Visiting your website homepage or a specific landing page
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Liking, sharing, or commenting on the video
  • Learning more through a provided link

7. Camera Movement

Smooth, coordinated camera movements enhance your video’s emotional impact and make it more cinematic.

8. Lighting & Darkness

Dramatic lighting, with high contrast between light and dark, creates mood and dynamism in your video. Use selective illumination to highlight key elements and evoke emotions.

9. Emotional Color

Strong colors enhance emotion. Work with a media company that understands color psychology to plan your color scheme effectively.

10. Use Animation to Catch the Eye

Animation attracts attention and keeps viewers engaged. Choose between:

  • 2D Animation: Ideal for explaining complex concepts.
  • 3D Animation: Perfect for showcasing prototype products or hard-to-visualize functionalities.
  • Combination of Animation & Live Action: Great for high-tech products requiring unique visual effects.

11. Be Honest and Authentic

Honesty and authenticity resonate deeply, leading to sales. Even humor requires honesty. Poking fun at yourself can endear you to your audience.

 3 Real-World Examples of Effective Video Storytelling

Sometimes, the best education comes from seeing things with your own eyes. To help demonstrate the impact of effective video storytelling, check out the following three videos from big-name brands that incorporate many of the video planning and production techniques we have discussed so far:

1. The Story of Netflix

The Story of Netflix offers an example of a short-form video following a chronological narrative.

Produced as a celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary, this video takes viewers (and potential subscribers) on a journey through Netflix’s origins in the early days of the Internet to the international phenomenon the streaming platform is today.

2. CNBC’s Liquid Death Feature

Liquid Death, a canned water company, is well-known for its groundbreaking marketing techniques. In a CNBC new video titled How Liquid Death’s Founder Started A $700 Million Water Brand, we see how a long-form video can provide more in-depth and behind-the-scenes insights into a brand.

Though this video is not produced directly by Liquid Death, it offers an example of how a more personal and journalistic video can attract audiences to your business. Garnering more than two million views, this video showcases how interview-style videos can connect with and inspire viewers.

3. Versace House Party

In 2020, Versace announced its pre-fall campaign via the Versace House Party video.

Exactly one minute in length, this video does not go into the brand’s origin story like the other examples above. Instead, this video focuses on the narrative of the campaign itself, painting a picture for audiences of what types of products and styles to expect from the brand’s upcoming launch.

Benefits of Storytelling in Marketing

Video storytelling can be a powerful tool for engaging with audiences and bolstering marketing efforts.  Here are five key advantages of video storytelling in marketing:

  1. Increased engagement: Video storytelling captivates viewers by combining visuals, audio, and narrative elements to convey a branded message.
  2. Emotional connection: Stories evoke emotions, making your brand resonate with your audience’s values, challenges, or aspirations.
  3. Increased visibility: Videos are highly shareable, increasing the likelihood of your content going viral across social media platforms and boosting your brand’s overall visibility.
  4. Improved conversion rates: Storytelling in videos can effectively communicate the benefits and value of your products or services, leading to higher conversion rates.
  5. SEO benefits: Videos can improve your website’s SEO. Search engines favor video content, often ranking it higher in search results. Engaging videos also increase time spent on your site, further boosting your SEO performance.

Whether you choose to create videos yourself or work with a professional agency, the key is to start incorporating these storytelling techniques to see real success. As you craft your stories, focus on emotional engagement, authenticity, and clear calls to action to connect with your audience and drive results. With the right approach, video storytelling can become a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal, leading to increased engagement, conversions, and overall brand success.

 


By Anthony Madani

Anthony is the Director at UpMedia Video, and an expert at Video Marketing, with a rapidly growing business. He’s spent over 18 years in media production, from award winning television shows (on Netflix and HBO), to producing ads for large corporations such as Toyota, Flight Center, and Canada Life.

One person drawing on a whiteboard, educating another person.

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