One of the most powerful selling tools is the ability to give a narrative to an otherwise motionless, lifeless object or scenario. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘bring it home for people’; well that’s exactly what you want to do.

This applies broadly to all forms of marketing. If someone is ever going to use what you have to offer, they must first understand how it will work for them. This is an integral part to content creation. A story, succinct or otherwise, helps give context and meaning to the otherwise vague and easily overlooked.

If someone is ever going to use what you have to offer, they must first understand how it will work for them. - Highlight to share -

It doesn’t have to be an X-Factor style heartfelt back-story, but something people can quickly digest and react to. So here, using the example of the hugely successful used car retailer CarMax, are some of the elements of the lost art of storytelling, laid out for you to put to good use.

Focus on involving consumers emotionally

Through social media and specifically-designed content marketing, CarMax put video testimonials to great effect in the ‘Why CarMax’ section of its site.

Use reviews and first-hand experience

Deliver, ahead of time, affirmation on the promises you make.

Always stick to the truth: Clearly you want to tell a good story but make sure it’s firmly rooted in reality (not myth and fairy tale like Hans).

Keep the message consistent

Remember your core brand message, how your company or product started out and the kind of language you always want to use to convey all of this. A mission statement might sound a bit austere but it’s really effective either to keep in mind or to have always visible.

Don’t give it all away up front

To keep things fresh, offer an evolving narrative. Use phraseology like ‘watch this space’ and use social media to offer teasers and hints to offers, deals or the evolution of your brand or brand message.

Use a multi-level approach

Allow a consumer to interact with your brand and brand story in a way that suits them. Use different types of social media and different stories to drive home the same message. CarMax links to press releases to tell its brand story on a wider platform.

When you set about creating your brand story, you’ll need to know what you’re asking readers to do and show why it’s important to them. Explain how they can interface and show the reward for doing so. Creativity and subtlety are important strengths so that the indirect statements guide effortlessly and without alienating readers.

When you set about creating your brand story, you’ll need to know what you’re asking readers. - Highlight to share -

Hans did get a few things right. His stories are so memorable because the characters – despite being mermaids, princesses or thumb-sized – have some relatability.

It’s not about invention but telling people honestly about why you set up the business, why you have developed the services and products you have and how the continuation of your business is filled with stories. It’s a fine balance between age-old consistency and a willingness to adapt and evolve to human needs.

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Forget Hans Christian Andersen: think Carmax when telling your brand story