Messaging and narrative marketing

Get the lowdown on messaging and narrative marketing for your business

In a busy, noisy and hyper-competitive world, it’s not easy to make your business stand out (as one of thousands of marketers in Australia, we know this struggle only too well!)

The frustration only grows when you find yourself losing ground to a competitor offering an inferior product or service. Quality has to count for something, right?

The fact is, the best company doesn’t always win when it comes to marketing. Regardless of the quality of your offering, if your message is not clear, your target market won’t care. They will gravitate to the business with the simplest and clearest message.

So, what do you do?

You get back to basics and create a message that’s sure to resonate with your audience!

We recently welcomed Jodie McEwen from The Marketing Side to discuss all things messaging, storytelling and narrative marketing. An experienced copywriter and marketer, Jodie specialises in crafting the perfect message to attract, retain and convert your target market. Join the group to check out this epic #GuestSpeakerSeries session.

If you’ve never looked deeply at your messaging or you’re too busy working in your business to work on it, Jodie’s insights are exactly what you need to get the most from your marketing.

What is messaging?

According to Hubspot, a marketing message is the words you use to communicate with your audience to convince them to do business with you. It’s essentially how you talk about your business and describe what you do.

This might sound simple enough but finding and communicating the right words is actually pretty hard. If you’re not a confident writer or if you don’t have time to think deeply about the right words, you’ll be tempted to get back to work and put off messaging for another day.

But that would be a mistake. Poor or unclear messaging is the #1 reason why marketing doesn’t work for business owners. No matter how much money you throw at advertising or social media, without a clear message, you won’t connect with your ideal audience.

Good messaging is clear and concise. It makes an immediate impact on your target market, acknowledges their pain points and helps your brand be memorable. Most importantly, it delivers great marketing ROI, often blowing other marketing strategies out of the water.

Messaging in action

Still a little unclear on what good messaging looks like and how it works? It’s time to show you a few memorable examples of strong messaging.

  • Not happy, Jan – a famous Yellow Pages message from the early 2000s.
  • Oh what a feeling – a long-term Toyota message that’s instantly recognisable.
  • You’re worth it – L’oreal’s call to arms for women across the world.
  • Just do it – one of the most iconic messages ever, from global sports giant Nike.

While concise and to the point, each message directly addresses the pain points of the brand audience, while demonstrating real understanding of their needs.

  • Yellow Pages speaks to the business owner who is too busy to market their business effectively, positioning Yellow Pages as the best solution.
  • Toyota reminds people about the joy of driving a reliable, comfortable and well-designed vehicle, making it more about emotion and experiences.
  • L’oreal encourages women to prioritise their needs, tells them to stop feeling guilty for putting themselves first and gives them permission to look good.
  • Nike tells people to stop putting off exercise (whatever the reason), creating a movement that prioritises health, happiness and wellbeing.

These memorable messages work because they directly address the pain points of the audience, rather than spruiking the accomplishments of the business. There’s nothing in the messaging about how great the brand is. It’s all about the customer and their needs.

Should messaging be about you or your customer?

Considering these examples, it’s probably no surprise to learn that your messaging should never be about you – it’s always about your customer. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to tell people how good you are in your messaging. It doesn’t work and will only alienate your audience.

Good messaging centres your customer and their needs. It shows them that you understand what they are going through and that you can help them overcome their challenges. If you spend time looking at your audience and produce content that speaks directly to them, you have a better chance of attracting, connecting and converting your target market.

This is where narrative marketing comes into play.

What is narrative marketing?

Developing an effective message is a lot easier when you take a storytelling or narrative marketing approach. By harnessing a common story structure, it’s easier to talk about your organisation and centre your audience in the narrative.

Think about the typical storyline in an action movie (aka the hero’s journey).

  • You’re first introduced to the hero and/or heroine.
  • Soon their lives are interrupted with a mission.
  • Completing this mission requires overcoming obstacles.
  • They reach out for help from an expert or a
  • Soon, they come together to find a solution and save the day.

It’s a gripping story arc that underpins most modern tales, from Star Wars to Harry Potter. The thing is, in narrative marketing your business is not the hero. You are the guide who helps the hero (your customer) complete the mission.

This means, you and your business are not the centre of the story – the hero or heroine is (i.e. your audience). By centering the ‘story’ of your target market, you can help them overcome their challenges, find a solution and save the day. Without breaking a sweat!

A potent messaging technique, narrative marketing covers all types of media and content. From simple messaging to full-on marketing campaigns, storytelling attracts attention in a crowded market, helping you stand out in a sea of “look at me” marketing approaches.

Does narrative marketing work for every business?

Before we answer that question, we need to ask another one first. Does storytelling work for every customer?

Research reveals that stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than facts. Our brains are literally wired to respond to them, with neurological and chemical activity ramping up in our brain when we hear a story. This means it’s more likely that we’ll remember a story long after we forget random facts.

That’s why storytelling has been a key part of human connection and communication since the dawn of time. A relatable story that speaks to the experience of the audience will trump a list of facts and figures every time. Storytelling absolutely works for every customer.

Now, back to the original question – does narrative marketing work for every business? As stories are one of the most powerful ways to connect with people, narrative marketing will be effective, whatever your type of business.

That means, businesses in the services, not-for-profit and eCommerce space will all benefit from taking a narrative marketing approach to their content and messaging.

How do you craft a strong message?

Getting started with messaging is about getting back to basics and asking yourself a series of questions to get to know your audience, your business and what you want to communicate.

First, you need to get to know your target market – remember, the story is about them.

  • What is your audience thinking about?
  • What are their problems and pain points?
  • How can your product or service help them?

Second, it’s vital to understand your goals and motivation as a business.

  • Why did you start the business?
  • How does your solution help people?
  • What are your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve?

Third, think about what you want to communicate to your audience.

  • What words can I use to create a clear message?
  • How easy does the message roll off the tongue?
  • What will my audience take from this message?

While answering these questions can help, engaging a messaging expert to facilitate a messaging workshop is the best way to uncover your key message. Often a fresh perspective and outside viewpoint can make all the difference.

Why focus so much on storytelling?

We’ve talked a lot about storytelling already, but there are three key reasons why this approach can be a killer move for your marketing and your business.

Storytelling connects with people

Think about examples of marketing that you’ve seen recently. Businesses that primarily focus on themselves and how good they are can feel manipulative and self-serving. What’s really in it for the customer? What will make them want to stick around for “look at me” content?

In contrast, marketing that focuses on the customer and their needs demonstrates empathy, care and understanding. By centering them in the story, you can prove that you know what they are going through and can meet their needs, guiding them toward a better future.

Storytelling helps you rise above the clutter

Do you know there are approximately 2.4 million active businesses in Australia? That’s a whole lot of businesses competing to grab the attention of customers, creating a whole lot of noise and clutter. To rise above the competition, it’s important to make your business stand out.

Centering your target market and using storytelling to share your message is a powerful way to do this. Compare these messages: “We’re the best air conditioning company in Newcastle,” versus “Helping your family stay cool on long summer nights with trusted air conditioning.”

If you were a customer, which one would you choose?

Storytelling brings business clarity

When we’re stressed and under pressure, it’s harder to find the right words to describe what we do, making marketing more difficult. This is especially the case for sole traders who have to take on multiple roles. Without clarity, it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of your purpose.

Spending time crafting a strong message through storytelling takes that stress away. A clear narrative helps you, your stakeholders and your customers get on the same page.

You will know exactly what you offer, who to target and why your business is better than the competition. Your customers will clearly see your value and understand how you can help. And your staff and business partners will find it easier to support you too.

You’ve nailed your message – now what?

Having a great story is important but you need to know how to leverage it to get your message out there. Without the right strategy, the best messaging in the world won’t deliver results. There’s really no point going to all that effort if no one will see it!

Your messaging needs to become the cornerstone of all your content. Put it front and centre on your website. Include it in your social media channels. Harness it in email marketing. Add it to your Google Business Profile. Showcase it in your physical marketing materials.

The more you share your message, the greater the chance that your customers will connect with you. A consistent brand identity will cultivate trust, build loyalty and ensure your business is known for all the right reasons.

Need help with messaging and narrative marketing?

Jodie’s business, The Marketing Side, specialises in this very area! Offering a range of services, including a 2-hour Messaging Workshop, Jodie and her team works with you to uncover your story and nail your message.

Delivered online, the workshop guides you through a series of questions to land on your key message. Following the session, you’ll receive a custom report and 3 action steps to help you nail your messaging for good. The best part? All you have to do is turn up.

Stop relying on paid advertising to bring traffic back to your website.

Our handy guide contains actionable tips you can implement so that you don’t have to rely solely on paid advertising. Download the Organic Marketing Essentials Workbook and enjoy!

If you’d like to learn more about messaging and narrative marketing, then Jodie is your gal.  Check out The Marketing Side website or stalk the Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn channels for more of her valuable messaging insights.

How Naked Digital can optimise your messaging

Experts in website design and development, the team at Naked Digital is ready to showcase your new and improved messaging with a beautiful, fast and functional website. With a focus on SEO and organic marketing, we can increase the chances of your message getting to the right people to boost your bottom line.


Kirsty has put together a quick and easy go-to resource that sets out the main types of blog posts and how to write them. Download this resource for free, right now!

If you’re interested in finding out more about copywriting or learning how a professional copywriter could help boost your business, Kirsty can help. Check out the Double Scoop Consulting website or Facebook page or email her directly – kirsty@doublescoop.com.au.


Interested in mastering copywriting for your small business? We’re ready to help! Schedule a free 30-minute chat with Desiree from Naked Digital to see how easy it can be to level up your small business with updated website design and optimised content.

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