As information consumers in an age of informational overload, we scan, skim, and “read,” often without taking the time to comprehend, much less to contemplate. As information communicators, we’ve learned to boil down to the main point and skip the details, knowing that we’ve got a limit of 280 characters and an audience attention span that falls even shorter. With the popularity of “click-bait”, it’s clear that there has been a major temptation to craft clever titles and neglect the actual content, thereby making false promises and leaving the reader chronically unsatisfied—especially after clicking on an article that promised to solve all their life problems in exactly 5 simple steps.
Where have all the good stories gone? The ones that take time to tell, and not for the sake of being long-winded but in order to engage in adequate character development, build suspense, create a connection to the reader, and communicate truths that leave a lasting impact. While we are huge advocates for the power of social media, we also acknowledge that it’s impossible to accomplish the above with a mere tweet.
So in the saturated sphere of social media, how can your brand communicate a story to an audience that just may have the attention span of a fruit fly? You may not be able to tell it start-to-finish like a good old-fashioned novel, but you can strategically create content that includes the necessary elements of a good story, and then unfold that story over time. Think of it like your favorite TV show: the episodes may be 30-minute snippets, but each one builds upon the last and typically includes a recap from the last, thereby ensuring new viewers can get up to speed without having to start from the very beginning.
Good storytelling takes vision, planning, and strategy—here’s a quick guide to how produce marketers can bring their brand stories to life:
6 Simple Steps for Good Storytelling
1. Decide on the plot.
Because you’re building a brand, you must have a story to tell (link to commodity/trade name/brand exec corner post). Otherwise, there’s no need for a label. Think about it: all pineapples look close to the same, especially to the untrained eye, and unless people are given a compelling reason to seek out one over another, they will choose the first (and cheapest) one they see. But we know that each pineapple took a different journey to get from seed to shelf, was cared for and treated differently, was grown by a group of people with unique histories, experiences, and values. Decide what it is that sets your story apart and give careful thought to how to frame it (or let us help you do that!).
2. Pick your characters.
Who is going to be involved in your brand story? (Okay, yes, your product.) But what about your founders, your leadership, your employees who work behind the scenes, whose lives have been impacted positively by your company and its mission? How about your loyal customers who have chosen to interact with your brand again and again?
These stories don’t have to be told separately! They are all characters in your brand narrative, and the more you can connect them to highlight the human element in fresh produce marketing, the better story you have to tell.
3. Now, choose the main character.
There’s another character in the story we haven’t yet mentioned, and they happen to be the most important. Believe it or not, your product is not the main character—and neither is your founder. Surprise! It’s your customer, and more specifically, it’s the one interacting with the brand for the first time.
You should be inviting people into your story, showing them how they fit in. In the words of one of DMA’s marketing heros, Donald Miller, “Don’t be the hero, be the guide.” This means that while your product may be amazing, and you’re sure it’s the best, your true focus is on shoppers’ needs and how your brand can meet those. You’re not here to sell a product—you’re here to solve a problem (which, of course, is what then moves product). And everyone knows that the main character always has to overcome a problem in a good story. So, if your customer is Cinderella, you’re the fairy godmother. Your content should focus on being helpful first and taking rags to riches! (Though perhaps we can all agree to skip the time-sensitive transforming pumpkins…?)
4. Communicate empathy.
Think about your favorite novel. It most likely told a story that you could relate to, and you probably felt understood by the author, or perhaps saw a little bit of yourself in one of the characters. As human beings, we are always viewing the outside world as it relates to us. By clearly communicating that your brand understands people’s needs, that you’ve been in their shoes, and that your product was borne out of a way to meet that need, you communicate empathy. Whether it be a desire to produce the most consistent, highest-quality orange, or perhaps a value-added product that saves time for fellow busy parents, key in on that messaging that conveys the potential impact of your product.
5. Paint a picture.
The best authors agonize over just the right choice of words, and they have a whole novel’s worth of them. Know this: word choice is even more critical when you only get a few to get the point across. First, why write exactly what a reader can already think up on their own? Instead, work to paint a picture with your words and lead readers somewhere they wouldn’t have gone on their own. Whether it’s through humor, sensory, or sentiment, choose powerful words over passive.
6. Evoke emotion.
As we detailed previously in the Science Behind Viral Content, emotions matter in marketing. Personally, I loved Full House growing up because the tender moments between Danny and his daughter Michelle, or Uncle Jessie and his eldest niece DJ, reminded me of the importance of a family that loves and supports one another. Remember the Titans went down in history for its tear-jerking portrayal of racial tension and reconciliation. What’s the similarity? The greatest, most memorable stories hit us right square in the heart, and they remind us what really matters in life. Creating those heartfelt moments with your audience is key to earning loyalty for your brand.
To master the art of marketing, you must first master the art of storytelling. It takes careful thought and attention to detail to ensure that you create a story that is worth telling, and even more so, worth slowing down to listen to.
Not sure where to start? Luckily, we have a wealth of helpful resources built from years of experience helping craft and tell the stories of our clients: contact us to learn more!
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