How to Use Storytelling in Relationship Marketing to Build Ideal Lifestyles

Patti Fabrick
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Relationship marketing centers on building long-term relationships between customers and your brand. And why would a brand want to do this? Because creating an overall positive experience attracts more customers. It also builds loyalty and increases customer lifetime value.

Old-school marketing techniques focus only on increasing individual sales numbers. And that short-sighted approach doesn’t work well anymore. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 80% of a company’s revenue comes from 20% of its customers.

Moving from the older, transactional marketing model to a newer, relationship-based model will help retain current customers. Relationship marketing also attracts new customers who will love your brand.

So, how can you form this kind of relationship with your customers? It’s not difficult when you appeal to emotions. Focus on creating emotional connections with your customers. And what better way to access your customers’ emotions than through the art of storytelling?

How Can You Use Stories in Relationship Marketing?

People love stories because they create human connections. Think of the last gathering you attended. Wasn’t it filled with stories? Funny stories, scary stories, nostalgic stories—our lives are full of them. And our ultimate goal as a relationship marketer is to become part of a customer’s story.

Here’s the thing: stories are not only fun to tell around the table at Thanksgiving. There’s actual science behind the bonding effect of a good story. ​Emotional stories trigger a particular hormone (oxytocin). This hormone increases trust between the listener and the storyteller.

And when 92% of consumers say they want brands to tell stories, give them what they want! Listening to your customers is critical in relationship marketing.

"Stop boring everyone with just numbers," says Vasiliy Makritskiy, CEO of Docs.Zone. "Everyone has stats they want to share. Just get a little creative in how you share them."

Now, you want to take your stories to the next level. You need to create compelling stories: ones that cause customers to demand your products in their lives. That fanatic desire is the hallmark of a lifestyle brand. And it’s the gold medal in relationship marketing.

Why Build an Ideal Lifestyle in Your Stories?

A lifestyle brand takes relationship marketing to the next level. They create stories based on the life their customer desires to live. You have to have a deep understanding of your target market. Not only their demographics (age, gender, occupation, relationship status, etc), but also their psychographics (what motivates and inspires them).

When you understand your customers, you can create emotional stories—ones that inspire people to be the ideal version of themselves. You appeal to those secret desires of belonging to a community. Or call to a deep-seated mindset they admire. You no longer sell widgets—you sell a better, happier, or more fulfilled life.

The most successful lifestyle brands create great stories. But they also create an entire sub-culture around their brand. They engrain themselves—products, services, and stories—into their customer’s daily life. Let’s explore a few of the ultimate lifestyle brands in relationship marketing.

Red Bull

Red Bull is serious about building a subculture. It launched a whole separate media company to produce multi-platform content, including Red Bull TV.

They sponsored a 24-mile-high parachute jump and a Formula One racing team. Red Bull’s "carpe diem" lifestyle brand is wildly successful. They inspire people to believe there are no limits to what humans can achieve. Dreams can become a reality.

Now, you don’t have to create an entire media company to achieve the same results. When you gain a certain level of attachment, raving fans of your brand will create content for you. User-generated content floods the market. This lends authenticity and excitement to your marketing efforts.


Iconic talk show host Oprah Winfrey has taken relationship marketing to heart. Relating to her audience at the deepest level, she has achieved massive fame and fortune. The secret to her success? She immediately responded to and incorporated her viewer’s concerns and values.

She formed a personal relationship by being open and honest about her own personal struggles. This endeared her to her audience, who felt she was very approachable.

How can you use Oprah’s secret in your business? Keep adapting to your market’s needs and desires. Stay close to your customers and encourage frequent feedback.

Harley Davidson

Love them or hate them, you have to admire the marketing geniuses at Harley Davidson. They have a brand that knows exactly how to reach the emotions of their target market. “It’s not hardware,” Richard F. Teerlink, Harley’s chairman, said in an interview. “It is a lifestyle, an emotional attachment and that’s what we have to keep marketing to.”

The brand created a paid membership group for owners, friends, and family. Sponsoring local and national events, they also offer a website where the customers can share their stories. Their customers love them so much, they’ll pay to be a part of the lifestyle—above and beyond the motorcycle.

Would you be able to create a community for your market? Bringing like-minded people together for events will build relationships for your customers. It also creates bonds with your brand as well.


Dove is very knowledgeable about their market and created a subculture based on current trends. The body positivity movement was perfect for this beauty brand. And they were instrumental in the movement’s success.

Women were tired of being told by advertisers that beauty was defined only in one way. And Dove joined forces with them to speak positive messages of acceptance and self-esteem.

Can you help throw rocks at your customer’s enemy? Creating content that is on-trend and feel-good is likely to win their hearts. And it helps you win loyal customers.


Patagonia has developed its brand around the environmentally-conscious minds of their customers. The outdoor clothing manufacturer repairs items for their clients. And they take used clothing as a trade-in, keeping old clothing out of the landfill. Even one step further, they take those used clothes and reconstruct them into “new” items for sale.

Loyal fans notice this level of effort. Patagonia was able to start an entire blog full of user-submitted stories. All the stories showcase adventures fans had while wearing brand clothing.

How can you join forces with your customers in a cause they deeply believe in? Make sure you give them a place or way to share the love (and content).


With their “Just Do It” attitude, Nike has become the biggest brand in the athletic shoe world. The marketing started as simple celebrity sponsorships (the Air Jordan). And it grew into a brand that is beloved by every pick-up basketball player and power walking mama.

The key to Nike's success is to make sure everyday people feel special... as special as whichever current sports celebrity is endorsing the shoes. They make elite performance tech available to everyone—even professional athletes. They also provide everyday athletes with support platforms, workout, and tracking apps.

How can you make your customers feel special? How can you make them feel elite? Tap into that secret desire to be famous and influential. Your customers will reward you for making them feel good about themselves. Even if you make them sweat a little.

Leveraging Content for Relationship Marketing

So how do you create the content that elevates your brand to lifestyle status? You see, all lifestyle brands have one thing in common. They create content that doesn’t just sell the product.

You have to create engaging, unique content. And that content must build the ideal lifestyle your market desires. Release compelling stories that your customers want to watch, read, or listen to. Your product shouldn’t always be front and center. Remember, the customer has to be at the heart of all messaging—not your product.

Be authentic. Be clear. Be bold. Make a stand for your customers, and they will buy into the lifestyle you’re selling. And, they’ll also buy your products which fit the lifestyle. The whole goal of relationship marketing is a loyal, happy, repeat customer.

So Where Should You Start with Relationship Marketing?

Are you convinced that relationship marketing is a good strategy for your business? If so, you want to create that ideal lifestyle image for your customers. Start by developing a deep understanding of your market. Talk to your customer service and sales departments. They interact with customers on a regular basis and have valuable insights to share.

Customer testimonials are a great place to begin building your brand’s stories. When written in story format and with emotion, they can be quite powerful. As you compile them, are you noticing a theme? Is there an underlying enemy you can help fight? A dream you can support? A need you can fulfill?


These kinds of insights and strategies can revolutionize your brand. And they can make you an icon in your market. Relationship marketing is the key to achieving iconic status.

If you need help getting started, we here at would love to build a relationship with you. Writing stories and winning the hearts, minds, and loyalty of your customers is our shared purpose. Get in contact with us here. And let’s see what we can accomplish together.

Patti Fabrick

Patti Fabrick is an experienced storyteller passionately forming connections between businesses and their prospects. She loves to connect with people on a personal level - inspiring them to take action through email and social media campaigns. When she isn’t writing, you can find Patti enjoying her ducks, chickens, and cows on her small hobby farm.

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