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What do great ad campaigns all have in common?

They tell a story.

No, not a ‘once upon a time…’, ‘and they lived happily ever after’ story, but a narrative that tells the story of their brand, their vision, and what their products will do for their customers. 

Because the thing is, humans love a good story. There’s a reason why we all spend so much on going to the cinema (£20 for a small drink and a box of popcorn, seriously?), and why we are happy to sit in front of the TV and binge Netflix for hours and hours at a time. Nothing appeals to us more than a compelling narrative that pulls at the heart-strings, and studies have shown that ‘the better stories we tell, the more people are going to engage’, so it’s imperative that you find a way to weave great storytelling into your campaigns to see some serious success with your ads.

 The tide is turning, and the ad market is so saturated that to stand out you can’t simply advertise your products with the same old SELL SELL SELL tactic- for your campaigns to truly see success, content and narrative is everything, and cracking these is something that is an absolute must for your marketing. 

So, where to begin? 

Nail That Narrative Structure- 

Just like any good story has a beginning, middle and end, so should your campaign! Most stories tend to follow the same traditional story arc of ‘problem, journey, solution’, and your ads should be no exception if you want to create content that is easy to follow and internalise. 

Start with a PROBLEM- an issue your customers currently face that is frustrating them and that they are unable to combat, and then tell us a little bit about your JOURNEY of tackling this problem, and finally, pose a SOLUTION in the form of your new and innovative product. It’s that simple! 

If you need an example to better visualise this in action, a great one is feminine sanitary product Always and their #LikeAGirl campaign. The video advertisement begins with the problem of sexism and the idea that doing anything ‘like a girl’ means doing something poorly, e.g. to throw like a girl. It then follows the journey of speaking to young girls who have not internalised these stereotypes, and uses their findings to create a solution to the problem of sexism: standing together to fight the idea that doing anything ‘like a girl’ is an insult, and instead the phrase should be used to mean being powerful and confident. 

Although at first glance you may not have seen the storytelling present in this ad, it’s incredibly clever in the way that it takes you through a narrative structure that tells the story of the brand’s journey to female empowerment. This really hooks the viewer in, and gets you wanting to know more about the product, in a way that a plain product ad for the sanitary towels would definitely not have! 

Trigger an Emotional Response-

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you definitely saw that infamous Christmas Iceland ad, right? It may have been banned, but it DEFINITELY got people talking, and really triggered an emotional response in its audience, and that is 100% the aim of the game when it comes to your ad campaigns!

A solid way to guarantee your ads are memorable and people really engage with them is to make sure that they’re designed to cause some sort of emotion, whether you (like the Iceland ad) want people to feel sad and moved by what they saw, or whether you want your ad to spread positivity and make people happy. In the words of Donald Miller in his book ‘Building a StoryBrand‘ ‘customers don’t take action unless they’re challenged to take action’, and the best way to inspire action is to create that strong emotional response that practically forces somebody to do something, and in this case, we want that somebody to buy your product.

Consider Your Format-

When you’re trying to tell a really great story, it’s so important to consider what format you’re going to use for your campaign, because not all ads are created equal! In my opinion, the best format to use when trying to tell a story is by farrrr video, whether that be long or short form. Not only are videos more likely to be viewed and more likely to stop your potential customers scrolling, they are also much more likely to trigger higher engagement rates, which makes them the perfect medium!

In a video ad, you also have the possibility to create a structured narrative and really delve into the story behind your brand in a way that could only otherwise be achieved with long, boring copy that would more than likely have your audiences switching off. Also important to think about is that in videos you can use thinks like music, setting and composition to trigger an emotional response that you’re looking for, which just makes it an even better option!

If you haven’t considered using video marketing to sell your products and your brand story, you’re missing a serious trick, and you should get on it, like, yesterday.

Create Some Mystery-

Don’t give the game away too easily- cliff-hangers work just as well in your ads as they do in the soaps! You need to try and strike the perfect balance between giving your audience just enough information about your product that they understand how it’s used, and why it will benefit them, while holding enough back that they feel intrigued and want to know more about your brand. Sounds tricky, but it’s definitely doable!

Check out this ad from Honda, for example. It keeps the copy minimalist but still interesting, but where it really creates mystery is in the video it uses! While most car adverts are very generic and use still images of the car, they’ve chosen instead to only show their car from behind and make the focus rather on the interesting and unique location the car is in. Immediately your brain is asking questions like ‘what does the rest of the car look like?’ and ‘how did it end up there?’ and soon you’re beginning to equate the Honda Passport with travelling to mysterious, exotic locations…and then Honda have truly got you. 😎

So now you know my top tips and tricks- implement them and you’re well on your way to becoming a master-storyteller! Let’s do it!

Let’s chat: do you plan to add some storytelling to your Facebook ads? Or if you’re already doing it, how are you finding it? Are you seeing an increased ROAS as a result? Leave a comment below! 👇🏼

Have a great day, and as always, pop over to my FREE Facebook Group Ads For Success for lots of fun chats on growing your biz!