If you’re a marketing director in charge of spending dollars where it counts, you’ve already shifted your focus to video because it works.

According to HubSpot, more than half of marketing professionals “name video as the type of content with the best ROI.”

But we bet you knew that already.

That’s because video converts. Whether you’re talking about email leads or sales, video improves conversion rates across the board.

And that’s why it’s now impossible to log onto Facebook or Instagram without seeing the latest product launch video from a big national brand.

Take Whole Foods’ recent “We Believe in Real Food” campaign. With shots of glistening vegetables and happy families, this slogan reveal makes all the right moves for Whole Foods’ customer base.

Sure, this video reminds Whole Foods customers what they already value – fewer preservatives and artificial colors in their food.

But it doesn’t do any storytelling work that will prompt customers to share the video with friends or influence purchasing decisions.

To make a big impact on your customers – and your bottom line – research shows you also need a good story to power your video:

Still: how do you convince your higher-ups to take a leap and invest in an expensive asset like video storytelling?

At TAR, we believe that shifting your marketing strategy to include story-driven video is one of the best ways to maximize your ROI.

Dollar-for-dollar, high-production video transforms your brand’s ability to connect with your customers.

Stories help consumers make emotional connections with the mission or purpose of a brand, and emotional connections inspire action, personal transformation, and deep brand loyalty.

So don’t get left behind as other brands make the leap to story. Take advantage of powerful storytelling to elevate your brand – and outmaneuver the competition.

Not only do we have the client experience to prove why a storytelling strategy works, we can help you nail that next pitch meeting with the VP and bring them on board with your vision.

Download our Marketing Director’s Cheat Sheet on how and why stories sell for the numbers your boss needs to see during your next one-on-one.

Storytelling for Marketers 101

When we talk about story at TAR, we have a specific idea in mind: video content that dives deep to bring out your company’s purpose.

Here’s a little more on our process:

The thing is, a single impression of your brand isn’t enough – not when we’re exposed to 5,000+ images every single day.

Think about it: how many slogans like Whole Foods’ “We Believe in Real Food” campaign do you hear every day? How many more do you immediately forget?

Neuroscience shows that storytelling cuts through this noise, while data aimed at persuading your audience slips by forgotten.

Whether you want your audience to click the “buy” button or sign up for a newsletter, stories – not facts – have the power to influence decision-making.

Here’s the basic formula you need to inspire your customer’s emotions, help them remember you, and prompt them to action:

  • A plot that introduces a relatable character, lays out the goals of your company, and establishes your unique worldview. A good plot, like any juicy story, will help customers remember and share what you have to say.
  • A hero who helps your audience identify with your brand.
  • A conflict for the character to overcome. This could be the problem a character encounters, or the hurdles faced by an organization.
  • A “hero’s journey” where the character triumphs over conflict, and your audience becomes invested in the outcome.
  • A resolution that inspires your audience to forge an emotional connection with your brand and take action.

In the world of fast-paced digital and TV advertising, it’s easy to overlook character. But savvy brands use character to their advantage.

Just take Flo, the spunky saleswoman for Progressive Insurance. She’s a memorable recurring character you want to root for. Flo goes above and beyond for her customers – just like Progressive will, the ads imply. That’s a character – and a company value – customers connect with, remember, and share.

Emotional connections also get to the heart of brand authenticity. In a survey conducted by Bonfire Marketing, 91 percent of customers identified brand authenticity as more important than the usefulness of the product or service itself.

If you’re not creating an authentic connection with your customer, you’re letting leads walk out the door without sealing the deal.

Because without a personal connection, 71 percent of customers will keep their wallets in their pockets. Facts can’t make these authentic connections with customers – but stories can.

At TAR, we craft narratives about the most authentic part of your brand – why you exist as a company. We want customers to feel good about you and how they relate to your brand – and we know this is impossible to do without a good story.

Brands like Budweiser and Patagonia already know this, which is why their campaigns focus on forging authentic connections with their customers through the power of storytelling. They offer customers the chance to connect with the brand’s values, whether that’s the power of building a business against the odds or making gear that outlasts a customer’s adventures.

If you’re ready to play in the big leagues, use story to unlock the most powerful emotional tool in your marketing arsenal.

Only story opens a direct path to your customer’s decision-making. And that’s not a sales pitch – that’s a fact.

The Science of a Good Story

Why do we feel strong emotional connections to video marketing campaigns like Budweiser’s recent Super Bowl ad?

In Budweiser’s one-minute spot, they give us all the ingredients of a powerful story:

  • A protagonist with a goal (Mr. Busch himself, making his way to America)
  • Conflict (an arduous journey and anti-immigrant sentiment)
  • Resolution (meeting a compatriot, Mr. Anheuser, and starting their company).

The result? An effective, emotional advertisement that encourages viewers to support Budweiser as they would support the American Dream.

Neuroscience explains why Budweiser’s ad is an emotional home run – and why it’s such a successful pitch.

We know you don’t have time to crack open a textbook, so take a gander at this TEDx talk from Simon Sinek, a leadership expert and author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, instead.

In his address, Sinek suggests that inspiring innovators like Apple communicate by explaining their purpose to consumers – their reason for existing – before making a sales pitch.

“Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo,” says Sinek, outlining his version of Apple’s ethos.

“We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

This sales method is effective because it taps into your limbic brain, the system that prompts emotional responses that move you to take action. It’s even more effective than explaining why your product adds value.

“Yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures,” Sinek says. “It just doesn’t drive behavior.”

“When we can communicate from the inside out,” or from why to how to what, “we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls behavior, and then we allow people to rationalize it with the tangible things we say and do. This is where gut decisions come from,” Sinek asserts.

Story structure arc

Like Sinek, we believe companies that appeal directly to the emotions of consumers before driving home rational selling points are more successful than those who don’t.

Storytelling is the most powerful way to connect with your customers because stories help them identify with your brand’s purpose. And you just can’t communicate your company’s purpose without building a compelling narrative.

Facts and figures alone won’t compel your audience to act because we don’t remember data without a story to back it up.

At TAR Productions we go beyond traditional marketing strategies by using story to tap into your customer’s emotions.

Sure, traditional strategies – teaser videos and product explainers – can be successful. You may even close more sales when you post a video that shows off a pair of shoes or takes a customer through a house.

But a purchase or a click doesn’t guarantee your company will be memorable ten minutes down the road. Clicks don’t inspire brand loyalty.

Stories help customers remember and connect, and you can use them as part of your video marketing strategy to drive traffic, leads, and sales.

For TAR, storytelling is also about more than selling products or services. We want to help you reach potential supporters, from corporate partners to potential employees and volunteers.

Unlike data points, storytelling assets help your company lead a conversation about shared values and identify crucial players for your future success.

By targeting your message to an audience that shares your beliefs, you’ll have a direct pathway to their hearts, minds, and wallets. But hey, don’t thank us. Thank the limbic brain!

Need a takeaway to remember how the science works? Our Marketing Director’s Cheat Sheet  has your back.

Stories That Work

No matter what your brand is, when you develop stories that provoke, inspire, surprise, or excite you’ll have instantly shareable content that helps move your audience.

Take this example from a video campaign for Principal Financial GroupOn the surface, Principal Financial Group may seem like an unlikely candidate for a successful, story-driven video marketing campaign

How do you build a compelling story around financial services that prompts an emotional response from an audience? Especially when advertising-savvy audiences pick up on a company’s efforts to sell to them – and tune out these appeals?

At TAR Productions we like unlikely – and we believe that story can work for everyone. Story works more effectively than a print ad or a billboard, which doesn’t offer your audience a chance to connect.

Stories make audiences feel something, make them identify and respond to the company itself, and those emotional connections are more valuable than traditional advertising dollars.

Our job is to showcase the ethos of your company and help your audience connect with that worldview – and that’s exactly what Principal Financial did.

Their idea is simple: Principal’s financial services exist to help customers weather the ups and downs of their everyday lives. The company’s ethos is built around accessibility, helpfulness, and a strong ethical backbone.

To help their audience identify with the company, the video asks viewers to imagine they are the company, steadily growing to serve 19 million customers over the course of 200 years. The script places “you,” the audience member, in the driver’s seat. You’re the person leading Principal to success. (Hey, that feels pretty good!)

At the same time, the video suggests, “you” never forgot your Midwestern roots or your devotion to helping individual consumers.

“Then you realize,” states the voiceover, “that while the accolades are nice, they’re not why you’re here.”

“And you haven’t lost sight of why you began this journey so many years ago. You see a way to help people, wherever they are in life, one person at a time.”

In a series of diverse portraits, the video provides a glimpse of what these individual customers look like. We see a young man holding a dog, a middle-aged woman with a bright red scarf, a weathered man wearing a cowboy hat.

“Ah!” thinks the audience, “these people look familiar. They look like the people I work with or who live in my town – they even look like me.” They’re relatable.

In this way, the hero of the story is both Principal Financial Group – the principled financial services provider – and the audience member, who identifies with and recognizes those principles in their own worldview.

Facts and figures alone won’t compel your audience to act because we don’t remember data without a story to back it up.

When posed with a potential conflict – is the company growing too big or too fast, causing them to forget the “little guy”? – the video focuses on meaningful images of individuals. This gives the audience member an extra opportunity to identify not only with the principles of the company, but also with the customers they serve.

By resolving unstated concerns that a multinational company might not “care” about individual consumers, the video helps its audience members leap over a potential customer-service hurdle, identify with the company’s core values, and feel connected to the very people that company serves.

Now that’s a story to get behind and remember.

behind the scenes video production digital cinema camera

What Stories Accomplish That Data Can’t

When you break down the complex moves in the Principal Financial Group video, you’ll notice that the video focuses on traditional storytelling, rather than advertising appeal. There’s:

  • Plot, in the historical growth of a company focused on helping people with everyday problems.
  • Character, in this case, both the financial group itself and “you,” the audience member. This move makes audience identification with the company incredibly easy.
  • Conflict, in the potential for a large company to leave behind its everyday customers in service of bigger, corporate interests and more profit.
  • And there’s resolution, in a dedicated return to the individual consumer. Because helping individual people is the right thing to do.

While there’s plenty of data woven into the video itself, from the number of customers to the number of countries the company serves, the piece isn’t pushing this information to convince potential consumers to sign on.

That’s because the video identifies Principal Financial Group’s “why” before trying to sell the audience on the benefits of working with the company.

Remember, as Sinek said, “People can understand vast amounts of complicated information like features and benefits and facts and figures. It just doesn’t drive behavior.”

The Principal Financial Group video – like all well-told stories – emphasizes audience identification and inspires feelings of trust, recognition of shared values, and connection.

The more a customer identifies with a company that helps individuals, the more they’ll feel like they can trust – and work with – that company as an individual.

Stories like this help bypass a consumer’s natural distrust of advertising. At a time when only 4 percent of Americans actually trust the integrity of media or advertisers, storytelling is a natural bridge for overcoming skepticism and distrust. And for turning clicks and views into dedicated, loyal customers.

When we bypass a consumer’s defenses against advertising appeals with story, we appeal to something bigger and more important than their impulse to spend money.

We appeal directly to who they are – or who they want to be. And we help that consumer or audience member connect with the company that’s the right fit for them.

Because video is such a memorable medium, it’s the perfect way to tell an authentic story about your company that will attract customers who value honesty and transparency. In other words, when you show your company’s true colors, you start attracting the right clients.

That’s the mutually beneficial relationship the Principal Financial Group offers its audience – transparency about values and the sense those values are shared between client and service provider.

And if Sinek taught us anything, it’s that no amount of data in the world could make that connection stronger. It’s the kind of job only story can do.

Finding Your Brand’s Story

When we start working with a client, it’s our job to suss out their storytelling needs and match them to specific company goals.

Want to inspire donations by showing how your organization helps individuals in need? That’s what our client Helping Haitian Angels needed to accomplish, in order to continue their life-saving work in Haiti.

Launching a new campaign to expand your business? That’s exactly why we started working with Peter Harsch Prosthetics. One of the best prosthetists in the U.S., Peter Harsch was poised to land major national and international clients – and, with our help, they did.

The process of matching organizational goals with compelling stories isn’t always a straightforward one, as you’ll see below in our case studies. It’s an ongoing collaboration between our team and our client, as we learn all about who you are, where you are right now, and where you’re headed in the future.

We know the right questions to ask to get things rolling – and how to bring out the stories even our clients didn’t think were there.

We dive into the heart of what makes you tick and uncover your brand’s perspective, so we can help you find the customers that will remember, respond to, and share that perspective for years to come.

How do we do it? Take a look at two of our most successful brand campaigns to see how storytelling changes hearts and minds – and helps you hit your financial targets.

Our Process at Work: Helping Haitian Angels

Helping Haitian Angels originally contacted us for help with a fundraising video. The non-profit got its start by chance, when a Virginian couple traveling through Haiti met a group of 35 kids who had been abandoned. Facing starvation and disease, half of these children would have died within a few days had they not been found by the organization’s founders, Bill and Debbie Harvey

The Harveys didn’t have time to explain the details of their mission to every single potential donor over lunch. They were busy building housing, establishing classrooms, organizing vaccinations, and spending time with the kids, loving each child like their own.

Before meeting with new donors, the Harveys asked visitors to watch our film, so they could see the challenges of life in Haiti first-hand. The Harveys wanted potential donors to connect with the Haitians who benefited from ongoing financial support and give donors a sense of pride in contributing to the project.

“Unequivocally, they give me tenfold what I give them,” Debbie Harvey says in the video. “It’s not even close.”

Over the course of the video, it’s easy to see this is true – how excited the children are to hug Debbie, how interested they are in their schoolwork, how proud they are to help build their school.

By telling the story of the deep need for the services provided by Helping Haitian Angels, we could help HHA appeal directly to donors who identified with their mission. We shared their “why,” or purpose, so potential donors with the same worldview would identify with and support their project.

We also emphasized the unique aspects of HHA’s three-year plan, from involving Haitians directly in the organization’s educational and health initiatives to expanding its services with support from the Haitian government.

It wasn’t enough to show the drive and commitment of the Harveys and their volunteers. We also wanted to show the individual children who meant so much to the organization – who, in essence, made up the “why” of the Harvey’s work in Haiti.

“As a nurse, I want to help everyone in the community,” Adeline tells the camera in Creole, the native Haitian language. “Not just the kids at Kay Anj Village.”

Adeline’s words represent the larger ripple effect that the Harvey’s organization has created throughout this Haitian village – and invites donors to take part in this process.

As HHA discovered, these direct appeals to donors work remarkably well. Between 2010 and 2014, our film became the centerpiece of their most successful fundraising effort ever. Viewers could easily see the positive change HHA brought to Haiti, and the film generated millions of dollars in donations.

This included major donations of $100K and $250K that allowed the Harveys to continue – and expand – their impact. Some of their largest benefactors decided to donate after watching our film, without ever needing the lunch meeting other than to hand over a check.

We’ve been to Haiti twice with HHA and made two films for them. They’re making change at such a rapid rate that, unfortunately, any film we create becomes less relevant 3 to 4 years later.

For example, the original need for HHA to build a medical clinic evaporated. Not only do the children now have regular check-ups and immunizations, but the entire community now has access to these services, too.

As HHA continues to create change, their story evolves. We’re honored to work with them on a third film later this year to capture the next chapter of their exciting journey.

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Our Process at Work: Peter Harsch Prosthetics

Peter Harsch is among the top prosthetists around the globe, with an incredible reputation that reaches from the U.S. Military to amputees worldwide.

Crafting a prosthesis is precarious, detailed work that affects the comfort of everyday life for amputees. Prosthetists have to fit, refine, and refit prosthetics on a continual basis, especially as athletes train and gain muscle or lose weight.

But there’s a reason Peter was the No. 1 prosthetist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, CA – one of the top places active military members are sent after losing a limb in Iraq or Afghanistan. Harsch’s hands are like gold, and he can fit amputees with more precision than anyone else working in his field.

When we met Peter in 2012, he was ready to launch his own prosthetics company and leave the bureaucratic red tape of the Naval Medical Center behind. He wanted to do more for his patients than he could at the medical center – and he needed a way to explain to potential clients how and why he’s moved to do his work.

Our aim was twofold: tell the story of Peter’s company in a way that demonstrated the inspiring success of his clients, and help Peter achieve his organizational goal of expanding into new markets west of the Mississippi River.

In our video, “Active Life Goes On,” we tackled a complicated narrative. Not only did we tell the stories of three amputees whose lives changed after working with Peter, but we also demonstrated the drive, commitment, and passion of Peter himself.

“Some people just want to come in and be able to go to the grocery store and walk around their house,” Peter explains at the opening of the video, describing his range of clients. “And some want to come in and do the Ironman Triathlon.”

As the audience learns, Peter’s company not only believes this is possible for amputees, but that it’s vital for their emotional and physical well-being.

At the heart of Peter’s message is the idea that active life goes on, even after you lose a limb. There’s Eric, who, with Peter’s help fulfilled his long-term goal of completing an Ironman – prosthesis and all. And there’s Levi, who soars over the earth on his dirt bike. Combat veteran Daniel surfs and skis with remarkable skill.

“At the end of the day, if you’ve really helped somebody for the rest of their life, you’re not just helping them, you’re helping their whole family,” says Peter. “Because they can enjoy life a little better.”

This is Peter’s deeper why, and it’s something we’re able to share more effectively in a short film than in a print advertisement in a magazine or a short commercial. You can watch his mission statement unfold in a longform video. These amputees aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving – and you can see it in the way they talk, run, and conquer their goals.

As a result of our collaboration with Peter Harsch Prosthetics, the company contracted with multiple international governments’ Wounded Warriors programs – worth millions of dollars in revenues. PHP is also sought out by amputees from around the U.S.

And while Peter’s talents are obvious to those who work with him, capturing his skill and dedication on video speaks volumes to prospective clients – even when Peter’s not sitting across the table.

Building the Case for Story

Because emotion moves people to take action – to care, share, and become a fan of your brand or service – storytellers have the ability to shape the outcomes of video campaigns more dramatically than ever before in history.

The stories we tell at TAR Productions are intended to be used for months and years to come, and to have a lasting impression on your audience. As Sinek explained – and as we hope we’ve convinced you – facts and figures can’t do this. Only story can.

What’s more, data demonstrates that this strategy works. Video storytelling is more memorable to consumers, while video itself is guaranteed to improve your click-through rates, online visibility, and influence sales.

From a marketing perspective, that’s pretty much a perfect combination.

Check out our Marketing Director’s Cheat Sheet  on what the kinds of stories TAR creates can do for you.

To be fair, the stories TAR creates aren’t for everyone. They’re for a specific, intended audience who connects to and appreciates the story – and the worldview the brand promotes.

That can be an inclusive worldview, like Principal Financial Group’s belief that helping individuals is the best way to effect economic change. Or the targeted belief of prosthetist Peter Harsch, who knows that life doesn’t stop after you lose a limb.

Having a perspective is how stories spread and audiences grow, from a small core of dedicated believers to a worldwide army of consumers.

To tap into that powerful energy, you have to understand what drives your company to do what no one else but you can do.

That’s something we’d love to talk with you more about. Contact us today, and we’ll start uncovering who you are – and telling your story.

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