How Storytelling Can Help You Market Your Small Business

Author: Gina Hall | September 17, 2015

We learn a lot from the movies: How to survive alien attacks, how to win the love of a man or woman, how to gain superpowers, and so much more. But we can also learn some very practical things; things that could be helpful for our businesses. The tools and techniques used in filmmaking can be applied to your own marketing campaign to strengthen your brand. Here’s four ideas that you can start using today.

Develop a Unique Visual Style
Certain genres of movies have distinctive looks. Film Noir, for example, generally employs a creative use of shadows and reflections in a black-and-white urban setting. Westerns, by comparison, tend to rely on a warm color palette in vast desert landscapes. The visual style of a film says a lot about its content.

With this in mind, choose a style that is reflective of what your brand is about. Is there a font or a palette that fits with your brand? A comic sans font, for instance, might be appropriate if you’re in the balloon business but not if you have a law firm. Along those lines, an 80s’-style neon palette might suit your vinyl record store business, but less so your mens haberdashery.

Storyboard Your Ideas
There’s a lot of work that takes place before the cameras ever start rolling. One really efficient tool that movies employ is the storyboard. Storyboards are animations that serve as a visual outline. Having a storyboard allows filmmakers to save time the day of a shoot and not have to get creative on the spot.

You can use this device to strategically set out a photo gallery for your website or social media feed. Instead of posting pictures randomly, consider storyboarding ahead of time using the techniques of storytelling. You can do the basic chronological account or a dramatic unfolding or a Top 10 list or whatever format is appropriate.

Show, Don’t Tell
It’s a film school axiom, but understand that film is a visual medium. And while your online presence is a mix of words and photos/video, remember that people don’t log on to your site to read a novel. In the early days of the Internet, you may recall that most web pages were text only, paragraph after paragraph. To the extent you can show your message, as opposed to merely telling it, do so.

Social media, in particular, is built on imagery. Think about your own clicking habits — are you drawn to blocks of text or to a provocative photograph with a headline and/or caption. There’s a lot of noise out there and words don’t cut through it the way that a photo does. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words has never been more true.

Edit, Edit, Edit
That headline originally contained six “Edits,” but you see what I did there. The art of storytelling is knowing what to tell and what to cut. Be concise. Say only what is essential to your message. Movie directors shoot a lot of footage and it is the editor’s job to help cut extraneous material and keep the pace riveting to viewers.

It’s important to keep your audience interested in what you’re trying to say. Remember that often, less is more. Craft your message with care. Remember that Twitter offers only 140 characters for a reason. Make it fit.

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