How many stories have you heard today?
Today, I watched the news, watched something on YouTube, read the newspaper, spoke to my fiancé, talked to my colleagues and spoke to the maintenance man that cuts the trees at my studio complex.
Everything counts. Reading an article counts, listening to the radio counts, meeting with a client counts and talking to your spouse definitely counts. In every single story, you are engaged. You may have smirked. You may have had to hold back a comment. You may have been ranting at the radio all the way to work because of a particular news piece. The point is that you are emotionally engaged in all of these stories around you.
Now name one statistic that you read today. You probably can’t, unless if it was particularly shocking or it had something to do with a story you were reading. Statistics are boring and off-putting. Statistics in articles don’t make for a good narrative. If I get an article from a company that is just full of numbers and marketing figures then my eyes gloss over it and I go back to my day.
Because my day, just like yours, is full of stories.
If someone were to get any of my time – well, they would have to be telling me a pretty good story. They can try to sell me a product or whatever, but if there’s no storytelling involved, I’m just not going to bother.
Neither will your potential customers.
Have you ever heard of Rhonda and Ketut? Of course you have, because it is massive. It’s just a TV commercial made by insurance company AAMI that follows the whirlwind love affair of an unlikely couple. What AAMI does well is follow the most important rule:
Tell stories. Let people relate to them.
Asking why stories work is beside the point. You know why stories work – it’s because you are a human. You are empathetic and every time you read a story, watch a movie, read a book or listen to your neighbour rants about her horrible coworkers, you put yourself in that situation. Sometimes, I get emotional when characters on screen die. I know, I know. It’s ridiculous. It also proves my point. Stories matter. They affect people.
Storytelling is necessary in your marketing because humans want to relate to something. They want to feel connected to what you are selling or to the story behind what you are selling. You can only do that if you provide them with your story. Otherwise, they have to guess.
Don’t let them guess. Tell them a story.
You are probably thinking that it sounds great, but how do you even begin to tell someone a story? You are not an expert storyteller. Starting stories is difficult, ending them is even harder. Nothing to fear – below are answers that will work for you and your style.
You may want to go for a personal story.
It’s really simple to write a personal story. You may want to simply talk about how you came up with a certain idea – for instance, by taking in how many stories there are around you every day – and then simply talk about how you tackled your problem step-by-step.
You may want to use the word of an expert.
After all, if four in five dentists recommend it, it must be true… right? We put a lot of faith in our experts. And why shouldn’t we? They know the field and they know what is happening. Their opinions are pretty important, as is their journey.
Sharing the story of an expert is a really awesome way to connect with your readers, especially if you find the expert inspirational. After all, if they inspired you, they will probably inspire your readers, too.
You may try your hand at predicting the future.
I don’t mean in a “I think it’ll rain tomorrow” kind of way. I mean using your expertise and knowledge in your field and answering a question about what you think will happen next week, next month or even years from now.
For example, someone in the eBook industry could write a post about what he thinks will happen with Amazon in three months. Use a big event and go from that. If you are not comfortable getting personal, use your experience and knowledge to write a compelling story about the future.
Go back in time.
Talk about history. It can be history from your own industry, ancient history or very recent history. Using events in history that affected your business is an even better idea – you can write about how they inspired you, changed you or touched your life. You will also come across as someone who is prepared and is ready for the future.
Storytelling is everywhere and everyone likes it. It’s part of our everyday lives. It is important to our journey as people – not just yours or mine, but everyone’s. Telling your customers and prospects a story means that they will know you better, learn to trust and maybe even admire you. That’s how you form a personal connection with someone.
And what could be better than buying something from someone you feel so connected with?