Since the beginning of time, humans have been storytelling. Whether is to get out of a sticky situation, or just pure entertainment, we’ve been storytelling since we could talk. But what does storytelling have to do with business? The answer is …everything! If you can’t tell the story of your product in a way that is appealing to potential customers, you won’t sell.
Why is it important to tell your story at all? Well, if you’re not telling your story, someone else will. That someone could be a stranger who doesn’t know your business well, someone who doesn’t like you, or it could be your competition. Odds are, they’re not going to compliment you and bring you loyal customers. Learning how to tell your story in the best way is bound to benefit you in the best ways.
Stories are necessary when captivating an audience. Where to begin? We have access to resources from blogs, to social media, to e-books, that we can use to tell the story. Though underrated, story telling is a crucial part of the business process. Once you master the art of telling a good story, you’re going to draw in your audience, leaving them wanting more. This turns readers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into loyal customers.
- You Must Have the 5 C’s : Circumstance, Curiosity, Characters, Conversations and Conflict
Incorporating these 5 C’s will captivate your audience. In beginning of your story, provide background and circumstances.Give the audience a setting and important information that will supply them with context. Use curiosity throughout your story, on in your headline, or even in both. This trick will create a thirst for the story, leaving your audience wanting more. Including characters and conversation make the story interesting and more memorable. And finally, the meat of the story, the conflict. This is debatably the most important part of the story because without it, what is really the point of the story?
- Stop Boasting and Start Relating
No one actually wants to hear your list of accomplishments or how successful you are. While accomplishments and success are undoubtedly positive things, leave them on your resume. That’s not the kind of stuff people want to hear about. People want to hear about your failures. Despite how terrible that sounds, it’s true. It’s human nature to feel the need to relate. Everyone is flawed and makes mistakes. It’s easier to relate to someone when you’re reminded that they’re only human, too.
“People don’t connect with your successes, they connect with your messes,” explains John Bates, TED Pro. “Your message is in your mess.” Bates goes on to explain that you don’t want to be the Luke Skywalker of your story, but instead be the Yoda: “You’re not the hero of your talk, your audience is.”
- Appeal to the Emotional Side of your Audience
If you didn’t cry when Ray in Field of Dreams finally gets to play catch with his dad…or when Noah and Allie died while holding hands in The Notebook, you either have no heart, or are just very good at hiding your feelings. If you weren’t crying, you were holding back the tears. Whether happy, sad or scared, these feelings make us feel alive. We incorporate feeling and emotion in our stories, then we help the help the audience connect with the story on a personal level.
- Engage Through Description
“The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies rushed into my nose the second I opened the door. The dimly lit Christmas lights gracefully draped across my warm basement apartment, and I could hear the sound of Carolers singing in the cobblestoned neighborhood streets outside.” Notice the difference between the previous sentences and, “I smelled cookies when I opened the door. There were Christmas lights and Carolers.” Which one makes you imagine? Which passage makes you feel something? If we appeal to the senses we engage the reader. Describe more than what occurred. Describe how it occurred, the smells, the sounds, and the feelings. These elements draw a picture for the audience as you are telling your story. However, make sure there is a healthy balance between the meat of your story (the 5 C’s) and the adjectives.
- You Don’t Always Have to Start at the Beginning
Too often storytellers (and marketers) give way too much detail upfront. Going in chronological order, the audience falls asleep before the exciting events occur. If you are stuck in the “order of things” then long you’ve reached the AH-HA moment, your audience members are A) synced into their Instagram feeds or B) in a deep-dream filled REM sleep or C) gone. Clicked a new page, never to return again. If you are anything like most of us, your attention span is about as long as a blink or two. Wake up and wake your audience up with all the good stuff! “Life happens in chronological order – that’s boring!” states Bates. “Start in the middle, where things are exciting. It’s much more interesting.”
- Stick to What Matters
Too much detail will put your audience to sleep. Stay on topic and only describe details that are necessary to the story. Save time and eliminate the things no one really cares about. Rather than letting your audience wonder what they’re going to have for their next meal, draw them in. Make them afraid to miss a detail. Not only is this effective in that your audience will pay better attention, but your story is more likely to be remembered and have an impact.
Businesses tell their story on their website, blog, on social media, through their emails, through news stories, and in person. The opportunity to tell the story is in every interaction, really. Are you taking advantage of every moment? People want to share and give opinions. They want to be part of your conversation and story. Where are you filling this need for them (also known as your audience)?
“In a knowledge economy, content becomes an important corporate asset.Potential customers see, and judge, your content assets before they ever see your physical assets. They search to compare product specifications or service offerings. They look through your documentation to see how a product works.” –Rahel Bailie, book Content Strategy
The traditional marketing funnel has changed to the current buying process of:
Important technical content is at the beginning, not at the end. This is why your story is so critical. Give your audience the opportunity to know the real you. Your truth. What your business is really about and why it matters. As they see and hear about the real you, your audience will grow in trust. They will make the effort to try your products and services. They will buy happily and stay with you loyally, because you have a long-term relationship with them.