How to tell a story that resonates with your audience

Why must you tell THIS story?
What greater purpose does this serve?
What does it teach?

You know who your heroes are, your customers. Now it’s time to tell your story and make it stand out. 

A lot of sites suggest that the human attention span is now 7 seconds, lower than the 9 second average attention span of a goldfish. This is a myth! Binge watching is at an all time high, over 90% of users have completed at least a series binge (one series in one week). The average user spends 1 hour and 11 minutes (or 71 minutes) each day watching Netflix, this is more time than people spend bonding with one another. 

With the rise of user generated content, the truth is that there’s content overload and more than ever before attention needs to be earned. People are ready to give their attention to things that are relevant to them. 

Social Media content per second by pubisher, as published by Sprout Social


In this attention economy, making users pay attention to your content is a struggle, but fortunately there are some structural elements that can make all the difference, unsurprisingly the rules of great movies also apply for marketing storytelling in all its forms. The only difference is that now the traditional story arc of ‘build up, climax, and pay off’ is no longer relevant. 

Attention needs to be sustained throughout your content, which is where the emerging story arc plays a part 

Here are three tips to help you tell a story that resonates in the digital age through any medium. 

Tip 1: Have a clear purpose

With long form content and videos, there’s often a temptation to cram in multiple messages, but there’s a lot of merit in having a clear purpose that’s delivered through a simple message, that stems from a core insight. 

Think about these questions when defining your story. 

Why must you tell THIS story? What greater purpose does this serve? What does it teach?

Stabilo’s and DDB’s ‘Highlight the remarkable’ ad focussed on the key insight of “noticing the unnoticed”. Stabilo Boss selected three famous black-and-white historical images to highlight the influential accomplishments of three overlooked and often uncredited women throughout history. The simple act of highlighting against the monochromatic images spoke volumes, without having to say much at all. 

Stabilio X DDB 'Highlight the Remarkable' campaign

Tip 2: Peak Curiosity

It has been proven by psychologists that people make their decisions in a split second. You need to use the initial second of your content to convince users to engage with your content. 

A good formula for peaking curiosity is 

[Set up the conflict] then [hint at an unexpected result] or [describe your emotional reaction to the result].

An example of this in practice is the Dior Ad, featuring Natalie portman. It starts with a lovers quarrel, “I love you”, followed by Natalie pushing him away saying “prove it”, to a scene of her smiling while walking on the beach and then jumping off a cliff, all in a matter of 3 seconds. This ad not only captures attention, but keeps the audience intrigued wondering what’s going to happen next.  


Tip 3: Sustain the Interest

With people having the ultimate control over what they consume and when they consume it, it’s really important to keep people interested. For articles this means having clear titles and short bites of content that people can skim read. For videos this means having moments of surprise and delight throughout the video that continue to keep people intrigued. 

The New Zealand police recruitment video does this exceptionally well. It is extremely fast paced and has moments that continue to capture attention throughout the video from bagpipers, a suave zebra crossing dancer, a snorkeler in a pool, a bodybuilder holding a boulder and the cutest dog thief.  Every key moment of information is tied to an unexpected moment to ensure the audience is hooked and paying attention throughout. 

There you have it. Three tips to help you structure and create an incredible story that keeps your audience tuned in. Once you have all these elements, make sure you tap into consumer psychology to ensure your story resonates with your heroes (your audience).

If the art of storytelling has you flumoxed, don't worry, we're here to help, simply sign up to our complimentary consultation session.

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