Narrative Marketing 101: What It Is & Why You Should Use It | Ian Chandler | Skillshare

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Narrative Marketing 101: What It Is & Why You Should Use It

teacher avatar Ian Chandler, Cofounder @ Writing Launch

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Narrative Marketing 101 Intro


    • 2.

      What Is Narrative Marketing?


    • 3.

      Examples of Narrative Marketing


    • 4.

      Why Narrative Marketing Matters


    • 5.

      Benefits of Narrative Marketing


    • 6.

      The Power of Story


    • 7.

      Transforming the Customer Journey Into a Narrative Pt


    • 8.

      Transforming the Customer Journey Into a Narrative Pt


    • 9.

      Applying Your User Story


    • 10.

      Case Study


    • 11.

      Your Turn!


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About This Class

Stories are powerful. We communicate and relate to each other using stories. If a story is strong enough, you’ll remember it for the rest of your life.

That’s why stories are perfect for marketing. Inviting your customers to participate in a story of improvement is so much more compelling than using cheap tactics to sell to them. Stories place the focus on the customers, empowering them to be the best version of themselves. This is the basic idea behind narrative marketing, an approach that uses the elements of story to create engaging marketing.

In this class, I’ll introduce you to the world of narrative marketing. You’ll learn:

  • What narrative marketing is and why it matters
  • The benefits of using narrative marketing for your business
  • How to harness the power of story
  • How to turn your customer journey into a narrative

If you’re not getting good results with traditional marketing strategies and want a more innovative, customer-centric way of doing things, narrative marketing is for you.

For your class project, you’ll complete a narrative diagram known as Freytag’s Triangle. You may remember this type of diagram from your high school English class, but in this class, you’ll be using it to get a better understanding of your customers. You can use the completed diagram to create better, more engaging marketing strategies that place your customers at the forefront and appeal to their emotions. You’ll also be able to share your class project in the project gallery and get personalized feedback from me.

This class is meant for marketers who want to take a unique, customer-focused approach to their craft. While you don’t need any experience to get started, it helps to have basic marketing experience (e.g., knowledge of sales funnels, experience with user personas, etc.)

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ian Chandler

Cofounder @ Writing Launch


Ian is a freelance writer and entrepreneur based in Ohio. He is Cofounder and Head Instructor at Writing Launch, a training platform that helps freelance writers build their careers. He is also the author of The No B.S. Guide to Freelance Writing. As a writer, Ian writes about marketing, entrepreneurship, business, and freelancing, building on his own experience of building a career from scratch.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Narrative Marketing 101 Intro: Hi. My name is Ian Chandler, and I am a marketer, entrepreneur and writer. You may know me from my business writing launch that I co founded. I found myself a one point, really dissatisfied with a lot of marketing techniques. I didn't really like the idea of having to sell at people and bombard people on social media and through emails and things like that. I wanted more organic marketing that people would actually enjoy. And I learned the hard way that if you really want to engage people and really want to win people over, you have to use stories. You want to involve people in stories that they are going to be a part of, that they will actively participate in, and that will engage them and make them more likely to become a fan of your brand. And that's what narrative marketing is all about. So in this class, I'm going to be going over what narrative marketing is. I'm going to be sharing some examples. We're going to talk about why it matters, why you should use it, and then I'll show you how to harness the power of story to create narratives that you can use to engage your customers, let them participate in these stories and win them over to become fans of your brand. So I hope you enjoy the course and thank you for joining. 2. What Is Narrative Marketing?: welcome to the first lesson of the course. I'm going to be showing you today what narrative market it is. We're going to talk about some of the basic concepts in terms and definitions involved and just get you familiarized with the idea of what narrative marketing is. So let's start by talking about the basic definition of narrative marketing. It's the idea of communicating value through storytelling and immersive brandy, and we'll look at what that means is specifically later on in the course. But for now, I just want to give you an overview of what narrative marketing is. Basically, it uses the structure of a story to create an engaging customer story that the customer can follow and participate in so they will change for the better. And one way to think of this is that the customer experience is a purposeful story, so you're not just selling at people or seeing them as just statistics you're looking at. It is a human experience that's going to be changing people positively now. Traditional marketing usually communicated value to customers through sales tactics and very one sided branding. You're probably familiar with marketing campaigns that just bombard people with advertisements and media and the hopes of getting conversions. And it just sells at people. And it's not really an interactive or engaging way of marketing. Now this process usually uses sales. Funnel is just to process customers, and the goal is to sell an item to the customer that will just probably temporarily gratify them in some way. She can see traditional marketing this sort of thinking of the customer experience as just a statistic. It just another sale Now. I'm not saying that all traditional marketing is like this, but there's definitely a lot out there. And I think narrative marketing is really worthwhile and important venture to consider when doing marketing now some important terms to go over the users story. When we talk about the user story, we talk about the ideal user experience structured as a narrative, and the goal is to make the customer the main character in a story of triumph. And that might sound a little melodramatic, but it's really true. You want to make the customer triumph in some way. You want to give them a win. You also need to be familiar with the parts of the user story which are the parts of a story in general and will go into detail later on. But for now, keep these in mind. First there's the exposition, which is background slash context. There's rising action, which generates excitement. There's the climax, which is, in this situation, the customer's choice to actively participate in the story or taken action, which is usually buying something. Then there's the falling action where the customer follows through and it all leads toward the resolution, which is the customer living happily ever after. I also want to briefly talk about the user persona. You probably are already familiar with this, but if you're not, it's basically just a fictional representation of your ideal customer, as defined by career foundry, and participation is another important term. This is basically when customers interact with your brand through marketing, and a few examples include clicking on an email call to action are watching a product video liking a social media post from your brand, those air, all forms of participation. Now that's it for this lesson, and next time we're going to be looking at some examples of narrative marketing, looking at what narrative marketing looks like in the world and then analyzing it 3. Examples of Narrative Marketing: Now that you've learned what narrative marketing is, you're going to look at some real world narrative marketing examples, right? The first is this quiz by Warby Parker. Warby Parker is a really engaging brand, and this is an example of them at their finest. I think this is an interactive quiz that helps you decide what kind of glasses you want and notice. This is all about the customer and their experience. It's engaging them directly and asking them about what they want. It's customizing the experience to each individual user so I can click on my gender click on my face with, You know, choose all of these options and it's very dynamic and it puts me at the center of the action. Let's meet shoes, everything that I want to see and lets me block out what I don't. So this is a great example of something that's, you know, inherently interactive and very narrative driven. Now this is my favorite example of narrative marketing. It's really unique. It's a Reebok ad, but it's unique in the fact that if you run past it, it will gauge your speed, and if you run fast enough, you will unlike a free pair of sneakers. Now, this is obviously getting people to directly participate in a way that even the Warby Parker quiz couldn't do. This is actual physical participation and engagement, and I think that's what makes it so strong. You know, you don't see this every day. And of course, not every brands are going to do this, and it's not going to be right for every brand. But at the same time, this shows you what narrative marketing can do and the sorts of results that that can create. This created a lot of engagement, a lot of buzz. It was very successful for Reebok, and it's easy to see why. And finally, in a similar vein to the Reebok ad, Adidas created custom videos for every single runner at the 2018 Boston Marathon. Now this was great because Adidas took advantage of the participant tracking and was able to follow each of the 30,000 runners and create personalized videos for all of them. And I love this example because it took an event that had a lot of people and managed to make it personal and a very unique and memorable way. Now Of course, this example is kind of extreme. But again, I just want to show you what narrative marketing is capable of and what it looks like in the real world and some different examples of it. And up next, we're going to be talking about why it all matters, because understanding its importance is going to be critical if you really want to use narrative marketing to its fullest capabilities. 4. Why Narrative Marketing Matters: all right, We've looked at what narrative marketing is, and we've looked at some examples. But in today's listen, I want to talk about why it all matters and specifically why you should use it. Humans are naturally story based creatures. We tell stories. We've remembered stories for millennia, you know, ever since the beginning of time. It's very inherent to who we are and how we experience the world on a daily basis. You tell and recall so many stories when you're talking to your family or your friends, those air stories. So it's very important. Understand that stories air at the core of everything we do and just how we understand life . In other words, stories are one of the main methods of communication that we use is humans. They allow us to communicate and make sense of the world from the first cave painting to the latest tweet. Humans have always used at the medium of story to connect, and we always will. Amazingly, we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it's delivered in the form of a story, and this just proves that we are story based creatures and to test this out, I want you to just think of the last story that someone told you. You can probably still remember many of the details. You might even remember how exactly it went. And this all underscores the fact that we use stories every day, and they're just how we live in the world. Narrative marketing engages that need for stories. Narrative marketing belongs at the intersection of storytelling and marketing, and it creates stories for us to participate in and helps to give us meaning. And participating in these stories makes us feel good and motivated. When we interface with something that's really engaging, it makes us feel really good. And so that means that we are naturally responsive to narrative marketing. If we experience marketing that has story at its core and that wants us to participate in that story, then we're going to be super responsive to that. That also means that people will remember narrative marketing much more than non narrative marketing, and this is critical if you want to cut through the noise and the clutter of the contemporary marketing landscape. There's so much noise out there, and if you want to get your message through. You have to make people remember you over everyone else. That's basic, but it highlights the need for narrative marketing and the usefulness of it. So in summary narrative marketing matters. Because we're naturally story based creatures, it uses a mode of communication that we, as humans know instinctively, were fluent in it. It also engages air deep need for stories. It empowers us, and it makes us a part of something important. And most importantly, it makes the customer the hero of their own journey. And that is basically the mission statement of narrative marketing. Now that you understand why narrative marketing is so important, let's talk a little bit about the benefits that your business can receive by utilizing it. 5. Benefits of Narrative Marketing: So by now you'll understand what narrative marketing is. You know what it looks like and you understand why it matters. Now. I want to talk about the benefits that you could enjoy as an entrepreneur or as a business owner. When you implement narrative Marquis, when you use narrative marketing, it can create higher levels of customer engagement. And I think this is the biggest benefit of narrative marketing. It's obvious that successful marketing means good customer engagement and narrative marketing can create levels of customer engagement that air just unparalleled. And consequently, you can also expect to see more consistent engagement over time. So it's not just, you know, engagement for a little while. This is long term, consistent engagement. Of course, narrative marketing can help you create more effective marketing campaigns. So if you've been struggling or if you really haven't seen that much engagement or interaction, narrative marketing might be the solution that you need Now. Of course, the result of all of this is hopefully increased sales. And when you engage people, when you have those high levels of consistent engagement and you have effective marketing campaigns, that's a great formula for high numbers of sales. You'll also get a better understanding of your customers, which while it's not increased sales, this is still a really vital part of marketing. Because narrative marketing engages people still uniquely, you'll end up with a better understanding of what your customers want, what they're looking for in your brand, their needs, their desires, all that good stuff. So when you do narrative marketing, the end result is really connecting with your audience on a deeper level and breaking through to them more effectively. So that concludes the portion of the class where we talk about what narrative marketing is and why you should use it. Starting now, we're going to go deeper into the how of narrative marketing. How do you do it? How do you implement it? Well, I'm gonna walk you through the basics, and the first basic is understanding the power of story. 6. The Power of Story: Now let's get into the actual craft of narrative marketing, so be sure you have your fright hogs triangle outlined with you ready to fill out because we're going to be used in it extensively for the rest of the class. In this lesson, I'm going to be showing you how you can use a narrative arc to harness the power of story and create engaging customer narratives. So this is Freitag Eggs Triangle. It's a really famous, really popular plot diagram that outlines the elements of a story from beginning to end. So you have the beginning, middle and the end, but broken down into five pieces. The exposition, the rising action, the climax, the Falling Action and the resolution. These are all essential parts of story that you need to grasp before moving on and creating narratives of your own. So let's talk about exposition. What does that mean? Well, the traditional literary definition is background information that's required to fully understand the story. Think of it when you watch the first few minutes of the movie or read the first few chapters of a book. You're getting a lot of back story to understand. Everything better now in narrative marketing. This basically means the context of your offer and the context of your offer is basically your value proposition and your brand, because without either of those, your customers aren't going to understand your offer. They're not going to follow through with taking the action you want them to take. You have to understand who you are and what you're offering to them. Now there is a rise in action now in a story. This is when the action starts building up. And there's all these incidents that create tension now in narrative marketing. This basically means the steps that leads your customers, taking the action you want them to take, and this can take many different forms. You can create rising action in the form of marketing and ad copy pages on your side. Social media pages, testimonials, other advertisements. There's a lot of ways to create that rising action, but you basically want to think of this as getting in the user to take the action that you want them to take and giving them reasons to do so. Building up the hype, building up the buzz. Then there's the climax now. Traditionally, this is the turning point where the main character makes a pivotal decision that's going to change the outcome of the story, and it's pretty similar and narrative marketing. This is the turning point where your customer finally decides to take the the action that you want them to take, which is usually a purchase. But it can be, you know, when opt in a sign up something like that. So this is the point that you want to get Teoh where the customer goes all in and takes the action that you want them to take. That's the climax. After the climax comes the folly in action, and this is just as important as the rising action. Even though the big action has already been taken, the climax has already happened. The falling action is still important. Traditionally, this just wraps up the action and leads to the resolution and a narrative marketing. We can think of this as the customer finishing the action and awaiting to receive the value that they will get as a result of the action that they took. So, for instance, if your customer purchases a phone, he or she is going to receive that and then enjoy the benefits like, for instance, you know, contacting friends and using naps. Then there's the resolution, and this is where everything gets wrapped up. Its the conclusion of this story, but in there it of marketing. You don't really want the store to be over. You want to continue that relationship with your users. So a narrative marketing. We can think of this as your customers life being improved as a direct result of the action they took, and this could be a long term or short term. But it's sort of a way of keeping the door open so that you can interact with your customers even after they have bought something or taking the action that you want them to take. And it's also important to think about how your product or service is going to help your customers. You want to think of this in terms of your product or service, helping your customers and get closer to their ideal life. Now take a look at your friend talks triangle off, familiarize yourself with all these parts because in the next few lessons, you're gonna be filling out your own with elements from your own business, So it's really important to understand the basics before moving on. And the next lesson we're going to talk about how to translate your customer jury into a narrative. So what I'd like you to do is think for a little bit about your customer journey. You know, maybe write down a few bullet points about what your customers go through. You know whether that's signing up to your email list and making a purchase or something like that. I want you to think about your ideal customer experience. What is the ideal path that you want them to take? What action do you want them to take and how do you want them to get there? Think about that as we go into the next lesson. When you have that ready, we can move on and start talking about creating a customer narrative 7. Transforming the Customer Journey Into a Narrative Pt: all right, so now you understand the basics of what a story is and how it can be applied in a marketing context. But now let's take a look at that inaction. If you've done any traditional marketing, you probably have come across sales funnels or worked with sales fellows in some capacity, and I don't think that seals funnels are inherently bad. But I think they can lead Teoh that attitude where you treat a customer just as, ah, statistic. So I'm going to use sales funnels to contrast narrative marketing to show how traditional marketing consort of be transformed into narrative marketing. So a sales funnel. You know, the emphasis is on whether the customer is aligning with the funnel. So, in other words, you want the customer to go down a predetermined path that you have set for them, and it focuses really on the business. You want to align the customer with the business and really not the other way around. It's also very driven by sales, which again, is not inherently a bad thing. But it could just link it to the wrong approach. Now, ah, user story. On the other hand, the narrative that we create for our customers. The emphasis is on engaging the user at every single point along the path. So it's not really just about whether the customer is aligning with the funnel or not. It's about keeping them engaged consistently throughout their journey. It also really focuses on the customer, and it's driven by the idea of helping customers. Now. Of course, I'm not saying that all sales funnels are like this, but user story is really focus on the customer. And I think whether you continue to use funnels or whether you go all in and just use user stories, it's really important to have that focus at the core of what you're doing. So that's one of the most powerful things about story like I've mentioned is that ability to engage people at every single point along the path? So not that you're starting to think about how to transform your customer journey into a user story. It's important that you have the right attitude, the right mindset about it. So keep this in mind as we go forward, and the next lesson we're going to continue translating the customer journey into a narrative by looking at plot points and mapping out what those look like for our user stories. 8. Transforming the Customer Journey Into a Narrative Pt: today we're going to be continuing to talk about the idea of transforming a customer journey into a user narrative. And today we're going to talk about specific plot points and double little deeper into the integration of story into marketing this lesson. What I'm going to have you do is think about the elements of story. We're going to go through them together, and I want you to think about how these apply to your brand. So we're going to be talking about exposition, rising action climax, fine action and resolution. And I want you to think about these stages as they relate to your customer journey specifically. So have your Freitag strangle file handy, ready to fill out as we go through this. Now, if you recall what we talked about when we talked about the elements of story, you will recall that it began with exposition. So for exposition, think about what is the first point of contact between your customer and your brand and where the first few things that your customer learns about you. Basically, what's the background that they learn about you and what's your specific value proposition ? So, for example, your customer might learn about your fitness training service to your Facebook page, and they learn that you provide a one on one coaching so they know who you are and what you dio. So think about how that applies to your brand and go ahead and write that down on your Freitag strangle diagram. Now for rising action. How will your marketing developed report with the customer? What factors are you going to include that will persuade them to invest in your brand? So is that maybe great ad copy or testimonials or video content or something else? Let's go along with our example and say that maybe the customer research is more reads about your fitness related credentials and browses testimonials. So they're getting more and more reasons to work with you now for the climax. How are you going to seal the deal? But and what specific action do you want the customer to take? For instance, this might be a simple as the customer scheduling in a training session with you, and this is what that rise in action is building toward getting the customer to take an action that you want them to take. So think about what that is for your brand and go ahead and write that down now for falling action. What is the post action part of the journey going to look like? In other words, once the customer takes the action that you want them to take, what's gonna happen after that? It can't just be, you know, nothing. It has to be something. You have to keep the customer excited about receiving the benefits that you provide. So how are you going to do that? And how are you going to continue to deliver value to the customer? So going along with our example, maybe the customer is going to receive a personalized welcome email, and then they will show up to the first session and they get personalized fitness advice. This is all very customer centric, and it really adds value to their experience. And now for the resolution, think about how you can continue to deliver value to the customer and keep them loyal to your brand. So this is sort of long term. What are going to be the long term benefits of your offer would value long term. Is your offer going to create and how and why Will the customer remember you? So maybe the customer is going to continue to book sessions and then season improvement in their personal fitness. So going along with our example, that would be sort of the the ideal outcome of this whole user story. Now think about what that is for your brand, then go ahead and write that down as well. So now let's put it all together. Let's say, for the exposition the customer had learned about your fitness train service through your Facebook page learned about your one on one coaching for the rise in action. They kept researching and read about your credentials. Looked at the testimonials for the climax. They took that action and scheduled a training session. The following action was receiving personalized email, showing up to the first session, getting personalized advice and then for the resolution. They continue to book sessions and see improvements in their fitness. So go ahead and fill this out on your Freitag strangle diagram and have that with you as we continue to go through the rest of the class. Now, what this means is that you have a user story right now. It's really that simple you have the five parts of the story that make up your ideal customer path. So as you read through the your user story, that should be the ideal experience that you want your customer to have. So the next lesson is going to be about applying your user story. Now that you sort of have the bare bones of a user story, what are you going to do with it? That's what we're going to be talking about. 9. Applying Your User Story: all right. Now, you completed your fright talks triangle. You have a use your story, but what are you going to do with it? And this less that I'm going to go over some ideas that you might consider for implementing your user story. There are a few great applications for user stories that I'm going to outline here. So with your user story, you can do a number of things. I think the biggest benefit of a user story is acquiring a better understanding of your customers. You thinking about their needs and their once in their motivations. So when you combine your user story with your user persona, you can really get ah, multidimensional understanding of who your customers are. Of course, you'll be able to develop stronger marketing campaigns that align more closely with your customers needs and motivations. So, as Ukraine marketing campaigns, you can console your user story, think about that ideal path that you want people to take and use that as a benchmark. It can also help you write stronger ad copy and just in general, create more engaging advertisements that reach people at every part of these your story. So it's all about that consistent engagement like I've mentioned in earlier lessons. And like I just said, using a user story is sort of a reference point for whether or not your marketing is successful can be really, really impactful on the final result. But ultimately it's up to you. There are many different ways to use user stories, and they're really useful in a variety of situations. So keep it handy because you never know when it could be useful. And I would recommend just consulting it regularly as you develop marketing campaigns as you write ad copy as you build your brand. Whatever it is, your user story can be there for you to help you understand your customers better and deliver your value to them on a stronger, deeper level. Now, in the next lesson, we're going to talk about a business that I co founded called Writing Launch, which is a training program for freelance writers and how we implemented narrative marketing concepts into the marketing for that brand 10. Case Study: I'm going to close off the class with one last example of the narrative marketing in the real world. Now that we've gone over the craft of narrative marketing and you understand how to do it, I want to show you a case study of my business writing launch and talk about how I apply narrative marketing principles to the marketing and the advertising for that business she could see above the fold, The header says, Invest in your freelance rating career, so that sort of provides some exposition, some backgrounds and context. Typically, people learn about us through Facebook or email, and this is one of the first pages that the visit. So it's really important for us to build that rising action. So we do that by talking a little bit about us. We provide testimonials front and center to show, you know, the results of the program, and this is really instrumental in persuading people to take our offer and sign up for our membership because we have all the benefits right here on the front page. We have a lot of bolted text that shows what people were able to do as a result of the course. So when someone looks at this, they can see you know, specific numbers about how much people earned. You know, where people got published, stuff like that. It's really persuasive in building that rising action to get people to sign up for the class and you'll see we have a CT a right below it. Now we continue on, you know, we have a more about ourselves about our credentials, and we have more about our courses. And this is really just detailed information about all of the different courses that we offer to create that value and create more rising action. And then we have another C T at the bottom, so you'll see just on this one page, we have a lot of narrative marketing elements that are very customer centric. This is all about the user. It's, you know, it's your trusted resource. Invest in your writing career. This is what it's going to do for you. So the value is all on the user, and that's a really integral part of our marketing in general. So that's just a short look at how we implemented some narrative marketing aspects into your home page, our landing page and and the next lesson we want to wrap everything up and talk about what's next for you. 11. Your Turn!: congratulations. You have officially completed narrative marketing 101 So to sum it all up, you've learned what narrative marketing is. You've learned how to harness the power of story, how to turn a customer journey into a user narrative, and you've seen what narrative marketing looks like in the real world. You've also completed your fright tax triangle diagram, and I highly highly recommend sharing. You're finished diagram in the project gallery. I'll be personally commenting on each and every one of them, and it's a great place. Just get support from other students as well. My hope is that you were able to use the knowledge you've learned in this class as well as the diagram to create amazing customer narratives that will make people fans of your brand . If you have any questions at all about the class or about narrative marketing in general, please don't hesitate to contact me. You can reach me through the class page, and I'll put on my contact information there. So once again, thank you so much for taking the class. I really hope you've enjoyed it, and I hope you've learned a lot, and it's been an honor to have been a part of your story.