October 06, 2021
Case Study

Marketing Storytelling Examples: How 3 brands told their stories (with results)


From the one about the woolly mammoth hunt to “Black Widow” and “Avengers: Endgame,” we have been telling each other stories since the dawn of humanity.

It’s how we process and cope with our existence.

And it’s a much more effective way to get someone to accept an idea than forcing your viewpoint on them.

Which is why it works in marketing so well. So, to spark your next marketing story, read on for examples from a software company, fitness app, and nonprofit.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Marketing Storytelling Examples: How 3 brands told their stories (with results)

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“If I’m trying to change somebody who disagrees—I choose not to be holier-than-thou. You’ve got to reach the heart. And I do that through storytelling,” Jane Goodall said recently in TIME magazine (Jane Goodall and the Tenacity of Hope by Ciara Nugent).

Marketers can use the same tool to communicate the value of their products and services. “Instead of telling me that you’re #1, I’m more interested in the why of your DNA that produced the #1,” Flint McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, told me in our latest podcast excerpt:

To help you tell your company’s story, today we bring you three quick case studies. First, how storytelling built a software business from scratch to 700,000 visitors per month. Then, a CEO shares how he used marketing storytelling to increase the number of clients for his fitness app. And finally, how a nonprofit’s public relations won massive exposure by telling an overlooked story.

Quick Case Study #1: How storytelling built a software business from scratch to 700k visitors per month

When he co-founded DSM Tool in 2016, Kfir Shapira had barely any experience in digital marketing. “This was a side project I helped my brother (today my business partner) to build because we wanted a software to manage our eBay drop shipping business with,” said Shapira, CEO, DSM Tool.

When they launched, they included a free version of the software. They also created an affiliate program. These two choices from the digital marketing neophytes were the spark needed to get the product into other people’s stories.

“Within a few weeks, YouTube influencers heard about it and decided to review the software. They tried to use the software itself in order to tell the story of how they’ve made money online using the eBay drop shipping model,” Shapira said.

Creative Sample #1: YouTube videos about software business

Creative Sample #1: YouTube videos about software business

By September 2018, they reached 710,537 monthly sessions, the vast majority of which were based on the storytelling of others that made the software go viral. They were shocked at the massive growth since they were only beginning to learn digital marketing.

Creative Sample #2: Growth in monthly sessions for software business

Creative Sample #2: Growth in monthly sessions for software business

“When you look at the channel breakdown for that traffic from Google Analytics, it seems like channels like SEO are pretty strong indeed,” Shapira said. But they were skeptical because they realized they didn’t have strong SEO skills.

Creative Sample #3: Acquisition channels for software business

Creative Sample #3: Acquisition channels for software business

They discovered that the software company’s website was mostly getting traffic from branded keywords.

“Here is what happened, people have heard on YouTube or Instagram about DSM Tool and then did one of a few things – typed www.dsmtool.com in their browsers (hence the direct traffic), typed DSM Tool in Google (hence the SEO traffic), clicked on an affiliate link (hence the referral traffic), or clicked on links of influencers that did not use an affiliate link (hence the social channel traffic),” Shapira said.

As they’ve gained more experience in digital marketing, the team has learned how to capitalize on the storytelling virality effect and today the business generates multi-channel traffic. Influencers are still one of their favorite channels.

Quick Case Study #2: Fitness app gets 20% more clients using testimonials

“As a company that provides remote personal training programs, we use a lot of storytelling in our marketing strategies,” said, John Gardner, CEO and Co-Founder, Kickoff.

The fitness app uses storytelling to show potential customers the effectiveness of its personal training programs.

The team experiments with different storytelling techniques. One of the most successful has been existing clients sharing their stories – having consumers verify that the app is efficient and answer the questions and concerns of potential customers.

Creative Sample #4: Screen capture from testimonial video for fitness app on Instagram

Creative Sample #4: Screen capture from testimonial video for fitness app on Instagram

Since the team started this campaign, they have seen a 20% increase in clients.

Case Study #3: Nonprofit inspires 1,920 articles by telling an overlooked story with press release and public relations outreach

Wreaths Across America (WAA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The nonprofit distributed a press release titled “After 59 Years, the Families of Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 Receive Closure.”

The press release tells the story of a secret mission that disappeared in the early days of the Vietnam War and the WAA’s work to memorialize the soldiers and civilian crew members lost on the mission. Due to the nature of the mission, their names have not yet been added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. WAA Founder Morrill Worcester donated land for a memorial. The land is part of the tract the WAA uses to grow and harvest wreaths to honor those who serve.

In the press release, Worcester says, “When I first heard the story about this mission, I was shocked to learn that nothing has been done for these families. I said that day, that we would do something to make sure these people are honored and remembered, and to hopefully give some closure to these families.”

Creative Sample #5: Nonprofit’s press release

Creative Sample #5: Nonprofit’s press release

This wasn’t a story the team created, it already existed as an aviation mystery and/or government controversy. The team wanted to retell the story as a factual account of what happened mixed in with the recognition that this was an event in people’s lives (people who are still living.) The team wanted to convey that the members of the flight were loved ones who made an impact in their communities and are still missed and still loved.

“Humbly understand that this wasn’t our story to tell, it was the families’ stories.  We simply helped amplify their voices for others to finally hear,” said Sean Sullivan, Public Relations Liaison, Wreaths Across America.

The team wanted this to be a story that resonated in both small and large communities, so by saying the names of those lost, helping to remember them in the communities that they were from, and connecting interested parties with local family members, they helped to show that an incident 59 years ago can still impact communities all across America.

“We also wanted to only give some information but leave enough questions that would spur reporters to do something that they very rarely get to do much of in today’s media, and that’s to actually do some investigative reporting. In doing so, the media was a great help in identifying 30 families that had lost touch with their shared history,” he said.

“That release got 1,920 articles, including the New York Post. We found 30 families and connected them with the information and recently had a bill introduced into the Senate (2571) to move this issue forward,” said Sean Sullivan, Public Relations Liaison, Wreaths Across America. The bill, introduced by Senator Gary Peters, would place the missing servicemembers names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Related resources

Case Study Blueprint: How-to guide to create 8 kinds of marketing case studies

How to Structure a Story in a Presentation

8 Mini Case Studies of Using Marketing as a Force for Positive Change in Our World While Getting Results for Your Company and Clients

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