“Stories can turn anonymous strangers into people that matter.”
- There’s something about story-telling that stirs the mind. Since the beginning of time, humankind has survived and cultures to this day continue to develop through the efforts of storytelling. Whether informally at home, in the earliest of school settings, or today in business, stories are told to teach, inform and sustain.For a software company, you need to demonstrate that your product will save the end user time (or money), make the customer’s life easier, and be easy to use. All vendors claim to do that. But if your client says it about you – now that’s a story worth sharing.
If you provide IT services, and you helped a customer avoid downtime during the most recent storm when everyone else lost power, there’s a story there. The same is true for any small business that helps a client solve their problems.
In all these cases we make the client the focus of the story. By doing so, you avoid sounding like a braggart, and you answer the question of quality and service before anyone has a chance to ask.
The fascination of storytelling
Through storytelling, we let strangers – potential clients who are looking for solutions – know they matter to us. Stories allow you to show prospects how you can help them solve their problems and make their lives better. And your readers like to hear stories. Since birth, stories are told in the form of songs, pictures and words. Storytelling sets the human brain in motion, allowing your imagination to see a story based on words and images you’ve seen or heard.
Stories are a magnificent way to share our experiences with people. How do you remember the favorite parts of your vacation and tell others about it? With pictures and stories! Have you ever sat beside a campfire? Besides roasting marshmallows, what do people do? They tell stories!
To create the best stories, put yourself in the mindset of a child — think like a kid. Have you ever read to a child? Did you ever watch a teacher read to a class of school children? Kids love stories. And, they know a good one when they hear it. They also are good at detecting bad or made-up stories.
In fourth grade, one of the highlights of class was a weekly ‘‘Mystery Reader.’’ Almost all Mystery Readers for my son’s class were Moms. When this Dad showed up to be the Mystery Reader, I read Ernest Thayer’s ‘‘Casey at the Bat’’ followed by ‘‘Casey’s Revenge’’ by Grantland Rice. I brought in a baseball I caught at a Major League game and, before I left, had the kids singing ‘‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’’. I don’t think the teacher ever fully recovered.
In his 2014 book, Talk Like TED, author Carmine Gallo discusses nine traits of public speaking that translate into great storytelling. The nine traits fall into three main categories. Use these as guidance for telling your stories to improve your marketing.
- The best stories are emotional. Emotion stems from passion. If you are passionate about a topic (your product, service, industry), it is revealed in your presentation of it. Emotional stories are ones people can relate to – they include shared feelings that exist in your audience. Emotion can be conveyed through the language and imagery you use.
- Great storytelling creates something new. Gallo calls this novel. Something presented in a new way, a story (or headline) that grabs our attention or delivers it in a way that produces a palm to the forehead ‘‘Wow’’ meets this criteria. What do you offer that nobody else in your industry can match?
- And finally, according to Gallo, the best stories are memorable. By painting a mental picture in the mind of your audience, your story makes an impression – literally. Stories that guide an audience to put the pieces in place using words, graphics, statistics or even humor, become memorable. Often this newfound understanding drives behavior.
Stories don’t need to be long to be effective. You might include a short anecdote in a blog or a speech to illustrate a point. Whenever you have an opportunity to tell a story, though, you can be confident you will connect with your audience more closely than you would by listing only facts and figures.
Let us know how you use story telling in your marketing efforts and what’s working. Share your story in the Comments section below. A real person reads and responds to all comments!
- Create content that separates them from their competition
- Become subject matter experts in their field
- Measure the effectiveness of their marketing $$
- Generate a consistent pipeline of high-quality leads for less
- Turn clients into evangelists