Why Online Advertising Needs Powerful Stories to Grow Offline Revenue

Jan 17, 2019

Quick! What’s the last online ad you saw today? Was it on Facebook? Or, were you searching for a specific product and saw it on Google? Did you click through for more information? Did you buy it or do you need to pick it up at a specific retail location? I’ll wait while you ponder this.

For me, I can’t remember, and I’m known among my friends and family for having a great memory. However, I can’t tell you the last ad I saw. Why? There are just too many ads that I see daily, and the majority of them aren’t memorable. In fact, according to a Forbes Agency Council 2017 article, Americans see 4,000 – 10,000 ads per day. Talk about getting lost in the noise.

Is your online advertising memorable?

Maybe you think memorable doesn’t matter as long as the ads convert. However, all conversions are not created equal. Conversions that lead to e-commerce sales provide great value, but conversions that simply deliver more product information to increase awareness, so that consumers will hopefully remember the product when they shop at retailers, are more difficult to measure. With so many ads competing for attention, being memorable is a requirement.

If you’re investing in online advertising to drive customers to retailers to buy your products, then this article is for you. How can you increase the odds that your online advertising will lead to more offline sales? Invest in storytelling to amplify your online advertising and make your brand memorable.

Why storytelling?

Storytelling done well creates not only memories but also becomes ingrained in you. For example, we remember stories from our childhood if they were compelling and appealed to our emotions. One ad that comes to mind from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s was the Life cereal commercial that told the story of Mikey, a child who wouldn’t eat anything until he tried Life cereal. The fact that “Mikey likes it,” created a lifetime memory for me. What recent ad will become a lifetime memory for you?

Let’s look at a fictional example that highlights the power of storytelling. What if I told you the following about a brand of tea that sells online, but also in supermarkets? I picked tea because it’s not easy to differentiate among teas for a mass-market audience (similar to breakfast cereal). Is this something that you would remember?

Imagine a young tea brand that has grown big enough to be sold on the shelves of a couple major supermarkets regionally, as well as online. The company wants to grow sales and does a great deal of online advertising to drive customers to Amazon and to supermarket locations. To increase sales through supermarkets, the advertising must not only get potential new customers to click through ads to learn more about the tea but also to remember the tea brand and purchase it at the store. This is not an easy task.

However, this isn’t just another tea brand that provides a mix of caffeine-infused tea for morning consumption, as well as herbal tea for evening relaxation. This tea brand has a story that includes how and why it began, as well as what it’s trying to accomplish in today’s marketplace and world.

Why the tea brand is memorable.

This tea brand is on a mission to bring balance to its consumers’ days. A young husband and wife team with two kids launched the tea brand initially to bring balance to their days. With two jobs to manage and two kids requiring support with school and extracurricular activities, the husband and wife were constantly battling stress-related issues. They needed balance – a return to the center – multiple times a day to calm their minds from the clutter of activity. With this in mind, their tea brand was born.

Knowing that they weren’t alone and that many people experienced an overload of daily activities, the couple launched a tea brand that includes a brief, yet powerful, message inscribed on each tea bag. The message simply reminds consumers to take a few moments and reset to deliver balance for them while drinking the tea. It’s essentially a balance break from our cluttered worlds that we’ve created.

The company reinforces this story across all its communications, including a mix of media that show how relaxed consumers are for brief moments throughout the day. From a caffeine boost to kick start the morning to a calming influence late in the afternoon before setting off for home to manage the household, this tea brand’s story ingrains itself with its customers.

Obviously, this is a fictional story that I made up for this blog post. If this were real, it would need to be shared often with consumers to capture their attention. The tea itself, including the packaging and inscribed message, would also need to live up to the story to be successful.

What I don’t understand is just how few real stories there are when you consider how many brands and ads attempt to attract our attention each day, each hour and each minute. If your business relies on advertising that will not only create awareness but also drive prospects to retail stores to make a purchase, then being memorable is a requirement. Without a story that resonates with your target audience, it’ll be pretty challenging to cut through the noise and grow retail sales.

For more information about creating engaging stories, please email me: