The Marketing Power of Stories

The world was built on stories. From the oral storytelling traditions of Homer to the latest New York Times Bestseller novels, people have loved to listen to and read good stories for as long as people have existed. If you are thinking of starting a business, strengthening a struggling business, or taking your existing business to a whole new level of success, you must learn to harness the marketing power of stories. It is as essential to your website marketing as a logo and customer service.

Seth Godin, successful author, entrepreneur, speaker, and marketer says “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, its about the story you tell.” Content marketing is all about the stories you tell.

So how do you tell a good story? Here are a few of the basics you need to cover when you tell your story.

#1 Memorable

No one remembers a boring story. If movies were boring no one would watch them and if books were boring no one would read them. Your story is not going to be the exception to that rule. If you want your story to be memorable it needs to be exciting. If you thought of starting up your business while you were climbing Mt. Everest, going through a painful break-up, scuba diving with sharks in the Bahamas, or flying home from a tour of duty in Afghanistan your followers want to know about it. Those are memorable things. In fact, even if your big idea struck while traveling home during rush hour traffic, you can turn what seemed like a mundane day into the day that changed your life.

#2 Sharable

Can you tell your story in 15 seconds or less? It might take you longer than that to get all the details out, but you need to be able to get the gist of the story out of your own head and into the heart of your reader in no longer than 15 seconds. This is why news headlines say things like “2-year-old escapes burning building”, “dog saves elderly heart attack victim”, or “veteran finds long lost dog on Facebook”. The headline grabs your interest and makes you hungry for more details. Your shareable story needs to be the same. When someone sees your blog title they need to want more information. When they read it they need to be able to say to their friend “Oh man, I read the best article about a woman who overcame breast cancer and started an amazing charity organization.” People want to share the things that inspire, move, and even frustrate them.

#3 A Hero

No matter what you are marketing, a service or a product, you need to have a hero. And there is no better hero than the person you are marketing to. Your story should help them see themselves in your story. Using your product or utilizing your service is saving lives, making unhappy people happy again, and changing lives in a remarkable way, help them see themselves in that narrative.

#4 A Transformative Action

Every great story sees the hero make a change that makes all the difference in the world to his life. In your marketing story you need to be sure that your potential customers know you are inviting them to make this transformation with you. You are the goal and the tool to get them what they want out of life. Transformative action can be purchasing a product, signing up for a class, donating to a cause, or sharing your information on social media.

#5 A Dragon to Slay

Steve Jobs was famous for saying “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” This counsel could lead you to believe that you get to decide what your customers want, which isn’t the case. What it does tell you is that you need to show people why they need what you are offering. If you’re selling swords, they need to see the dragon they need to slay. If you are selling business advice they need to see what they’re losing if they don’t utilize your mentoring.

#6 A Mentor with a Moral

Most stories, with very few exceptions, have a moral attached to them. They teach a truth, a behavior, share a warning, or offer a solution to a human problem. As the storyteller for your business, you are a mentor with the “moral of the story”. Your story needs to share your wisdom and experience, without being pompous, and offer your expertise in making a choice that leads to success, happiness, good health, etc. Storytelling is probably the single best way to accomplish the feat of getting people to support your cause, business, or platform. Tell your story well and they will hear your name and think of the kind of successful mentor you are. Tie your story to a principle of success and happiness and you’ll have the weight of that culturally accepted belief behind you as well.

Practice writing and telling your story. Try it out on friends, family, and your own business mentor. Listen to their feedback. Hone your story down until it is moving, shareable, and filled with the excitement of a heroic journey. Your customers will respond with loyalty and your bottom line is bound to increase.

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