How Storytelling Marketing Elevated Square, A “Boring” eCommerce Service

by | Jul 28, 2022

Finance is boring — yet, it can completely define the options available to us, no matter what we feel like doing. This is a key sentiment that allowed Square, a credit card processing company, to master storytelling marketing. 

How Storytelling Marketing Elevated Square, A “Boring” eCommerce Service

What do we mean by “master?” Square nailed it so well, that their ad won the prestigious 2018 Tribeca X Award, which celebrates content that joins advertising and storytelling. Here’s how they did it. 

The Secret To Square’s Award-Winning Short Films

Kevin Burke, CMO of Square, once told Mashable that over 85% of Square sellers live outside of the most populous U.S. cities. In response, they decided to find stories in places like Cheyenne River. There, they found an inspiring 16-year-old Lakota entrepreneur named Genevieve Iron Lightning, and Square funded a short documentary (“Lakota in America”) to be made about her life, nonprofit business, and the dreams she has for her family, community, and generations to come. 

What’s so phenomenal about this? For one, Square could’ve easily just created commercials that’d play before every YouTube video (and they have, to be fair!). However, Square’s short films go above and beyond to touch hearts and minds. Not only are the concepts strong, but the films are born from very confident business decisions, leveraging customer data to target their audience and tell their stories. 

Another reason why Square’s films are so surprising is that they’re artistically written, shot, and directed. For example, in “Lakota In America,” the film is almost entirely voiceover from Iron Lightning and Julie Garreau, executive director of CRYP. It was a deliberate choice to allow the Lakota people to tell their own story, according to director Mohammad Gorjestani and creative director Malcolm Pullinger. 

“As filmmakers, you really want to authentically represent the subject matter and subjects,” Gorjestani told Mashable.” And there’s no better way to do that than allow the people to express their reality in their own words and for us to just observe and listen.”

That was in 2017. The next year, Square’s film “Sister Hearts” moved the Tribeca X jury for showing “an extremely deft sense of craft” and “telling a compelling and richly human story while maintaining a strong brand message throughout.” Although Square was featured within the narrative, it plays “seamlessly” and, without showing off, lent a hand to the “impressive journey” that the inspiring women had traveled. 

These careful, intentional decisions create wonderful films that not only capture the customers’ attention, but their awe and empathy too. That’s a huge leap from only being known as a boring eCommerce business.  

Creating Your Own “Secret Recipe” In Storytelling Marketing

Square has over 12 short films, but you don’t need to make any to have your own “secret recipe” within your brand’s storytelling marketing. If there’s anything that Square can teach us, it’s the importance of finding a good story. Which customers are benefiting most from your product or services? In return, what does your company admire most about these customers? How can you show appreciation, while showcasing your values and product? 

It may take some experimenting to figure out the best balance for you. If you have a Newsletter Pro team behind you, though, our writers can help you figure out the best way to tell your story, and put it directly into your customers’ hands via direct mail. Our creative team can help make your life, retention rates, and storytelling marketing a lot easier. 

Don’t miss out, because storytelling isn’t the future. It’s here right now, because a good story is proven to keep people’s attention.

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