The question that brand storytellers must ask

Well-crafted videos will fail to evoke emotion and action if marketers don’t understand consumers’ motivations. Here’s how to get the answers you seek.

From smartphones to roadside billboards, video content is the king of digital marketing.

It’s not enough to simply produce pretty pictures—you must tell stories that evoke emotional reactions if you want your audience to pay attention.

The most powerful stories don’t tell viewers what to buy, it shows them how the product will affect their lives, creating much better connections than could be achieved by simply laying out the facts.

Marketers have been quick to pick up on the idea of emotional storytelling as an effective tool, but where you can often miss the mark is in identifying what message you should send—and how to send it.

The best communicators are those who put clarity first. Ask, “So, what?” when putting together your campaign, distilling your brand down into a single, simple concept that is easy to communicate.

Why should people want what you offer?

The key element to creating a strong, emotional story is to identify exactly what makes your product valuable.

To do this, understand how consumers perceive your brand. This research should reflect the reality of the situation, not how you (or your boss) might like it to be. If customers tell you that your brand provides a convenient, low-cost option compared to your competitors, don’t sugarcoat it to keep management happy.

Understanding where you stand is crucial to creating an emotional connection.

This Volvo ad is a prime example of a brand choosing a message to match its identity. Volvos are seen as safe family cars, so the video focuses on the relationship between father and son.

Understanding what your brand means to consumers enables you to zero in on the product itself and what it means to your buyers.

Will it save them money? Will they feel better, look better or sleep better? How do you get people to think and trigger an emotional response? It’s time to ask yourself, “So, what?”

Get to the heart of the matter

Asking, “So, what?” helps you understand what motivates consumers to buy your products.

For example, people might buy bottled water because it’s healthy and convenient, but what brings them to want to pick it up? Is it so they’ll feel rehydrated? Ask again. They feel refreshed, happier and ready for fun. There’s your motivation to buy—and that’s the message of your emotional story.

Your brand’s message must be wrapped up in a human story to trigger engagement, and if you’ve properly identified your audience’s motivations, all you must do to create an emotional link is show how your product fulfills their needs.

Take this film video from Aptaclub. Mothers care about giving their children all the nutrients they need—not just to keep them healthy, but also to give them the best possible foundation for their future.

By addressing the motivations of mothers to buy products that give their children the best start in life, this video creates an emotional engagement between the motivation to buy and the product range itself.

From the very beginning of any creative campaign, address consumer’s needs directly, instead of trying to lead them to buy something they don’t want.

Positioning your products as a solution to their problems and demonstrating how their lives will be affected when they make a purchase is a very powerful way of establishing your brand identity. It all comes down to asking, “So, what?”

Jon Mowat is the founder of Hurricane Media, a video production agency based in the U.K.

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