Stories inspire us, evoke emotions, craft vicarious experiences, teach us lessons and can live in our hearts for years. Humans have been telling stories since they discovered sitting around the nightly fire. Why? Because stories connect us.
While you may think that stories are for leisure time, I’ll tell you why storytelling has a firm place in the business world, and in particular- in your marketing department.
Great stories bridge the gap between you and your audience, making is easier to gain and build trust
Great marketing weaves a narrative. You might have the best product in the world but if your audience can’t see themselves in the plot of how that product will improve their lives, they will click right past you.
You need to make your customer the hero, and you the guide.
There are many ways that storytelling lives within our marketing. Your branding, images, colours and copywriting tell a story but we also want to be able to put your target customers into their own script with what you’re selling.
Many companies make the mistake of positioning themselves as the hero but I’ll let you in on a secret…people are self-focused (that’s the obvious part and should come to no surprise) and they want to know how YOU and your product or service can help THEM. You’re not the expert, you’re the Yoda to their Skywalker. Place them in a narrative where you help solve a problem and make their life better.
Let your customer see themselves in the story you’re telling. If you can do this effectively you’ll increase your engagement and sales.
Below are some tips for which elements to include when you’re crafting a story to engage your audience.
Hold their Attention
No cliches, please. Use punchy, clear and unexpected language. Now that you’ve grabbed their attention, you need to know how to hold onto it. Can you see yourself in the story you’ve created, and would you want to be in there too? Clear, interesting, and relatable…now you’re ready to present your solutions.
The “main character” of your story needs to be somebody your customer can relate to. If you’re talking about yourself in the story, make sure your customers can relate to you. It’s even better if you can be the guide, the sidekick, the one who inspires them to take action. Know your audience so that your story specifically resonates with them.
Identify the problem
What problem or obstacle does the protagonist of your story face? Is this a problem your customers can identify with? Make sure your story includes their journey through the problem as they searched for the solution.
Your product might be amazing, and so are a lot of products that no one has ever heard of. Why? Because you need to focus on the problem that your product solves. Stop. Storytime. (Respect to the legacy of MC Hammer).
How was the problem solved?
How did your main character overcome the problem? What was the resolution? Does it match or reflect the solution your customer is looking for? Real storytelling is about problem-solving, not selling the product itself. If you re-frame your thoughts around sales and turn that into problem-solving and a personal story, you’ll stand out and win hearts.
How can you make their life better?
In marketing, we have a saying, your customer goes from what to what? In other words, how are they transformed after they use your product or service? For example: From overwhelm to calm, from pain to freedom, from isolation to connection.
Stories have the ability to create a connection between you and your customer. With a connection comes trust. Write an authentic story and your customers will want to keep coming back to you. Storytelling helps you to stand out from the competition. And guess what else, you will make a connection with your customers if you can actually make their lives better.
Not convinced? Let’s drop some science on ya.
We’re a species with big brains and LANGUAGE. We are wired to depend on one another to make it through life.
According to an article on copyhackers.com, neurologists previously assumed that the human brain responded to narrative language in the same way it does to fact-based language: that is, using the language processing and comprehension regions in the left-brain.
So basically, they thought we listened to stories in a rational, analytic fashion that didn’t engage brain function beyond language comprehension.
The power of storytelling in marketing
The thing is, as countless brain scans have shown, we don’t make rational decisions when we buy. Duh! Anyone who makes ‘sleep-purchases’ on Instagram (it’s a thing, right? tell me I’m not alone) can relate to this. Buying can be completely irrational, emotional and illogical.
Dream Up a World For Your Dream Customers
In a study published in the 2006 issue of the journal NeuroImage, Spanish researchers revealed that human brains create a complex physiological reaction to the kinds of descriptive language used in stories. Our minds not only comprehend stories using our language processing regions; stories also engage our auditory, olfactory, visual, sensory and motor cortexes.
Stories take us to other places- right inside the matrix of our brains!
Real People Real Experiences
We should know by now that words don’t just paint pictures; they create vicarious experiences. No wonder people are so connected to art, language, acting, books or anything that can take them out of their world and into another.
“Our brains have evolved to empathize, remember, and make decisions as a result of hearing a story. It’s neurologically impossible to resist the persuasive power of a well-told tale.” Source: copyhackers.com
Where should you use storytelling to sell online?
Everywhere you can! In your blog posts, in your instagram posts, email marketing, on social networking sites, in your marketing campaigns. The power of stories belongs up front or any marketing strategy. Any place your potential customers interact with you is a place to tell a compelling brand story.
So there you have it. The science and creativity behind storytelling, the threads which weave together our human experience- so bump it up to the top of your to-do list!
Have we successfully appealed to both hemispheres of your brain? Are you ready to re-write your brand story? Ask us how we can help.