How to Create Marketing Storytelling That Sells



“Why” emotion drives our behaviours and choices at the most basic level, “How” to use this to the advantage of marketing, and a step by step guide of “What” it takes to achieve this.

The understanding that emotions are a fundamental force driving rational thought is quickly becoming more established than ever. This same process is responsible for influencing purchasing behaviour—an insight that is greatly helping companies and businesses everywhere reach out, sell more, and improve the lives of people everywhere.

In fact, it is probable that emotions influence virtually all our decisions, as Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, argues in his book, “Descartes' Error”. At the most basic level, emotions are an extension of rational thought that takes over to affect our actions – and often bypasses the slow deliberate considerations of rational thought that may actually be too slow to affect action when they matter most.

At the very least, the highly emotional component of decision-making applies to the vast majority of people, from a marketing perspective it is logically the approach to take if we want to reach the largest audience.

So, the next obvious question for a marketer would then be, “How do I use storytelling to drive the emotions that help sell a brand or product?”. Fortunately for us, this subject matter has been extensively explored beforehand, and all we need to do is piece together some key elements to create storytelling that engages audiences positively.




为了找出消费者拒买的真实缘由,心里学改变了调查方案,拟出了两份购物清单(图下),除了最后一项【新鲜咖啡】VS 【速溶咖啡】之外,其余的商品全部一致:




Once the premise for action has been established, it is important to take your story into the next sequence: “how” your narrative explains the broad strategy in which you plan to achieve the promised goals to further engage your audience emotionally.

This is an essential prelude to clear the first doubts that may be stopping them from becoming more invested in your mission before following up with the tangible benefits they offer and finally the means by which these aims are achieved, the latter finally appealing to the analytical part of our brain. Even this simple article uses the same flow of events.

Naturally, the narrative now shifts next into a more realistic emphasis, and describing the utilitarian purpose of the company’s products and services now comes into play.

For the sake of convenience, let's use our previous examples and see what “how” they are helping improve lives. For Google, they promise a powerful yet safe internet space that safeguards a reasonable degree of freedom of expression. Maybelline’s cosmetics and daily skincare products help revitalise ageing skin to give women back a sense of confidence and self-esteem. Tesla’s aggressive development of electric vehicles promises to slow climate change and reduce respiratory diseases and deaths caused by air pollution.

All of the brands in the examples used clearly define the benefits they offer, which is the halfway point between speaking to the desire/emotional side of our brains and our sensibilities/rationality to weigh the potential cost to benefit potential – the part of our brain that kicks in to stop our emotions from making poor decisions.

Of course, you don’t need to present world-changing ideals to move an audience. For small companies, simply telling the audience that you want to make more people smile is equally powerful – if not more relevant to many. The popularity of entertainment celebrities and social media platforms say it all.


Dreams may be the fundamental force that inspires us to achieve something. But dreams stay that—only dreams, unless the dreamer can also provide a plausible process to achieve it. The audience are no fools.

As such, the “what” you do part of the story explains the details of what your company is doing to achieve those goals. This includes work processes like research & development, factories, a skilled workforce and industry experience. Many businesses make the mistake of starting with the “what”, but it is not any less essential to your story.

Then there are ethical concerns with exploiting emotion to increase sales for its own sake, which is usually made worse if deception is involved (or at least, voluntary negligence). This can also include overselling a product but not having anything to show for.

Now, Write a Compelling Story

With the “why”, “how”, and “what” in place, it’s time to start writing. A good place to look for examples is in many of the successful established brand names.

Always keep in mind that the semantics (and the sentimental values, as described in “why”) you choose should reflect ideas that are strongly ingrained or accepted by the target audience. You’d get a strong response from parents if your story invoked the special place that raising a family is, followed by outlining issues that worry them such as their desire to do the best for their child, and then providing sensible, achievable solutions.

Each phase of the narrative serves to capture the attention of that specific audience regardless of the stage they are at—a multi-tiered plan that addresses as many possibilities.

So, the next time you watch an advertisement or read a story that speaks strongly to your felt inner experience, remember that the narrative was likely created using the same process as described in this article. Good advertising is also often indirect and may be designed to influence thoughts and behaviours in ways that may even seem contrary to the intended goal, such as promoting a self-image of kindness and benevolence with the aim of solidifying a powerbase of followers that allows that entity to project power and influence (a.k.a. Soft power).