Great marketing is great storytelling.
Once upon a time… you were a small child being put to bed by your parent. “One more chapter…” “One more story…” “Just one more!” Why? Because, as children, we loved stories, but more importantly, unknowingly we still do. It was the highlight of the evening when mum or dad would sit with us and read a story before going to sleep. A simple story, with simple a meaning, in a simple language anybody could understand.
But how can a story improve your sales?
Well, it can be applied to any stage of the sales process because a well-told story can affect listeners on multiple levels that you’d fail to do on otherwise. Not only can you better capture a reader’s attention, but you can motivate action, better build trust and make boring data more interesting and relevant. More importantly though, through telling a story, you can transform common beliefs to change minds much easier than you would otherwise.
Sure, storytelling isn’t a breakthrough technique but as marketers we’re not doing it enough because we believe we’re not trained as fictional writers. That’s a big mistake. The greatest storyteller is the everyday man; the man who isn’t trained or skilled in the art of writing. The everyday man, that uses simple language, which comes straight from the heart because that is the man who can influence. We need to speak like that person.
“The most effective structure for any argument will always be story.”
Why do we love stories so much?
Because they activate the areas in our brains that give us sensory experiences which influence our way of thinking. They did back then when we were children, and they still do now. More so, when a story captures our imagination, it can cause us to develop new thoughts, opinions and ideas that align with that story, thoughts that bring us alive. This is where we, as marketers and salespeople, come in. We can alter perceptions about our products and services and rule our world: the marketplace. Unorthodox marketing is all about this kind of thinking.
A narrative that’s compelling and exciting has social benefits too. If you think about it, it’s been central to mankind throughout history. It’s a community act of sharing knowledge, and it’s entertaining! What would our ancient ancestors have had to talk about around the campfire in the evenings when TVs were non-existent?
Stories are appealing to us because we can find meaning in a subject when portrayed through a narrative. Through a beginning or an introduction to a problem; a main body that’s the argument for the solution and a focus on adopting the ‘new alternative’; and finally, the ending which is the close that solves the problem and showcases the benefits (the happy ending). Simple, right?! Stories also make us think, change the way we feel, and can surprise us. They make us visualise something that we can’t really portray otherwise.
It makes the unreal, real. And this is very powerful.
This is something you can do in all of your marketing activities, be it online in blog posts and on web pages, offline in newspaper ads and on sales calls. It’s a skill you will need to master moving forward. Social media has made talking with businesses and customers easier, but those businesses need to be consistently providing compelling content. If the reader isn’t engaged and entertained, he’ll go elsewhere. Just how many links have you shared this month or this year, and which of those were narratives? Probably most of them.
Telling a story is a timeless skill because everyone has an interesting story to tell. You just need to unleash it to really make that emotional connection with your prospects. Start building a following, make your content more viral, and let that story carry the sale of your product. Real emotions are working much better than corporate language now.
Every marketer wants to add credibility to their messages. Storytelling is an opportunity to do so by bringing these messages to life by connecting to a natural human behaviour, by tapping directly into people’s emotions.
And if you can tell stories, you’ll make more sales. Because the storytellers of this world are the ones that rule it.