Your business success comes down to how well you tell a story.
The reality is that in 2017 customers are smarter than ever before about products & services they want or need. You as a small business owner have to become more tactful about the way you market your company. It’s no longer about ‘standing on the street corner & yelling look at me, look at me!’, today’s version of marketing is all about attracting. Sure, you can search the internet looking for the next great marketing tip that’ll put your business over the top. But a fair warning, most of those tips are just quick fixes that don’t last very long. What you want is something that’s truly powerful & will stand the test of time.
What’s Old Is New Again?
Okay that maybe a little bit of a stretch as the use of storytelling has been part of the marketing game since marketing was around. However, in the madness of running a business, the speed of our technological society & the fact that it’s ‘hiding in plain sight,’ we often overlook the simple craft of storytelling.
If you can take your customers by the hand & lead them on a journey that, in the end, will inspire them to take the desired action you want you’ve tapped into the power of storytelling. The best part about this is that you don’t have to learn anything new. You just have to brush up on some old techniques that you grew up on.
The one staple in society since its inception has always been (& will always be) storytelling. When we were children we learn through stories & as we grow up we gain friends & jobs through stories. In fact, one could argue that a large percentage of our success in life comes from how well we can tell stories.
Believe it or not, you’re a natural storyteller, in fact we all are but just don’t realize it. Sometimes it’s beneficial to brush up on the parts of the craft to bring out your inner-storyteller.
With that in mind, here are 10 storytelling techniques that will help your business stories become more memorable.
The greatest stories throughout history show their audience rather than telling them. They don’t insult their audience’s intelligence by telling them the particular message they are trying to convey. Instead, they use storytelling elements such as plot, character & theme (among others) to show the audience the message the story is trying to convey.
When it comes to marketing your business it’s all about understanding your customers pain points & needs. You can use that information to show your customers how your product or service can solve that need. Through the use of examples, case studies or how to’s you draw your customer into the story to give them a better understanding of how you can help.
2. Have a Plot
A plot simply put are the events that make up a story & each event relates to each other in a pattern or sequence. It’s best to structure your plot in three acts – beginning, middle & end. This will not only help you in being a more efficient storyteller but help you audience as well giving something familiar to follow.
The simple formula for a plot in your marketing effort always starts with a problem. What problem does your product or service solve? This can give you some ideas of the type of conflict you can show that will lead to the solution (your business).
Problem (Beginning) + Conflict (Middle) + Solution (End) = Plot
The lifeblood of any story is the main character. Sure stories involve many characters but we always follow the perspective of one character along his/her journey to solving their particular problem. The greatest characters are flawed in familiar ways making them likeable so the audience is pulling for them to succeed.
In marketing your main character is your customer. It’s their journey to solving their problem that should be conveyed in your marketing. Every piece you put out into the world should star your customers & your product or service acts as the only thing they can use (in this particular story) to reach their goal in the story.
One of the main elements of the greatest stories in history is conflict. In essence, stories are about conflict & the main character trying to overcome it. You can use it to build tension & keep the audience interested to find out the ending.
In business we can use this conflict as a road map to getting to your product/service. Will the main character (your prospect) find a solution to his/her pain point. Obviously, your product is the solution but if you build just enough tension the pay off at the end of the story is well worth it.
5. Give them Something Familiar
All great stories all follow familiar narratives such as ‘the hero’s journey,’ ‘the coming of age tale,’ or an anecdote. If you use a common narrative in your own business story your audience will naturally be engaged because your story feels familiar to them.
When telling a story you should think of your place in it as a tour guide. You sole purpose is to lead your audience to the end of your story. You know where you’re going but your audience doesn’t. However, if you leave little clues throughout your story that will keep you audience engaged to where you’re taking them. If you use the proper foreshadowing your audience will be excited throughout.
7. Tell it Your Way
One of the first rules of writing anything is ‘to find your own voice.’ This applies to telling your business stories as much as it does with writing a novel. Don’t get bogged down with industry jargon or try to write formulaic because your piece will come off as too black & white (or dull).
Remember, one of the main points of a story is to entertain and you do this by adding in your own personal touches throughout. You can draw on your own experiences with using your product or service to really dig into finding your voice. If you take the time to add in a little color your audience will be grateful.
8. Point of View
In life we tend to want to talk about ourselves which is why communication gurus will tell you ‘that one of the quickest way to connect with a person is ask questions about them.’ When you’re writing for or about your business talking about yourself should be kept to a minimum.
You’ll have a more success getting through to your audience by sticking with third person writing. Bring them into the story by using a lot of ‘yous’ & ‘yours’.
9. Hook Them Early
Get your audience interested in your story write away by hooking them into it. Your first paragraph should have enough information that lets your audience know they are in the right place & they will get the information they’re looking for. However, it should also leave enough curiosity that they will want to keep reading.
You can start of with a question that the story will answer or a out of the box theory that will be back up in proof throughout the article. Regardless of the way you start, the point is to hook your readers by promising something that will be paid off by the end of the article.
10. What Are You Trying to Say?
Last but not least, before you even start writing the story you should know what you’re trying to get across. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of the story? It could be to entertain, relay a message or teach a lesson. Once you decide the purpose always keep it in mind throughout the process.
Storytelling is the most powerful tool you can use to separate your business from the competition. The power of storytelling runs deep in our human psyche and it’s naturally inside all of us to tell them. By incorporating more stories into your business writing your brand will come alive instantly becoming more memorable.