I used to get in trouble growing up. I wasn’t a bad kid and these weren’t some crazy punishments dished out by evil parents. I just needed some…correction on occasion. The thing is, I was hard to punish for one simple reason.
I loved stories.
I don’t mean I was a bookworm (I totally was). I don’t mean I wrote a lot or watched a ton of movies (I totally did). But those were just outlets for my love affair with stories. I was fascinated with them. I internalized them. So when I was confined to my room I acted them out with my action figures. And when they were taken away, I grabbed my books. And when those were confiscated, I grabbed pen and paper and wrote my own tales. And when they took my pens and papers I would draw with crayons. Finally, with even those stripped from me and even napping was not an option I would sit on my floor and imagine my very own stories and movies. Word by word, image by image. I would just sit there writing or directing in my head and smile.
Geez. I was weird.
1. YOU AREN’T INVENTING STORIES. YOU’RE TELLING THEM SO CUSTOMERS CAN FIND CONNECTIONS.
My point to all of this is that stories are power. They are escape and they are communication at its most primal form. Something is happening or has happened and now I ‘m going to tell you about it. At the end of it all, I’m going to make you feel. When you speak about your own story, about your triumphs and struggles as a military spouse, a husband or wife, mother or father or human being, you create handholds customers can secure themselves to.
If you don’t connect with your customers, you don’t build trust.
If that’s not a solid reason to start including storytelling in your business strategy, I’m not sure what you think you’re doing. You aren’t just making things up. The needs of your customers are just the fringes of a story they’ve lived already. A story you need to know in order to fill your role. Your business itself is built on story, on tales of late nights and passionate sacrifice. And hope. That’s there too.
2. GOOD BRAND STORYTELLING WILL ELEVATE YOU ABOVE THE COMPETITION.
What you have to remember about having a story to tell is that you have details. You have information to flesh out the setting, to set the mood. You have to show your expertise in order to tell a compelling story. I don’t mean you slap customers in the face with data, either. I mean you have to be so comfortable with what you know that you can be selective, giving the details needed to push the narrative along. Storytelling forces you to stay relevant. That’s a big deal.
3. STORYTELLING IN MARKETING IS THE STEPPING STONE TO FINDING YOUR BRAND VOICE.
I don’t care what kind of automation you run behind your email. It doesn’t matter what website template you have. In the world of business, personality is the KING.
If two people are selling the same product, the one with the better personality wins. How? Not necessarily because they are nicer or speak proper English. It’s because at the end of the day they connected with your needs, your mood and life. Even if it was just enough to, hmm, get you to buy a mattress or something.
Storytelling forces that personality out of you. It forces you to find a voice. When you learn to tap that voice at will, all of your branding benefits. You become more cohesive. You begin to focus better on the message you’re trying to tell.
Okay, so I said all that and haven’t given you any idea how to start. Let’s do that now…
1. START AT THE HAPPY ENDING OF YOUR CUSTOMER’S STORY
You have a product or service that’s going to solve a problem for your customers. Well take a step past this point and have your branding focus on the life or results that will take place once they’ve used you. Think about fitness businesses. There’s a reason why every model you see in their marketing is already Captain America level fit. I don’t care how much people speak about diversity in marketing, the sad fact is that everyone wants a fairytale ending. In the case of gyms or health and fitness, the fairytale isn’t Average Joe. It’s Thor and Hulk. So that’s what you give them.
2. BUT REMEMBER, THE BEST STORIES ARE GROUNDED IN REALITY
As I said earlier, you start with the fairytale ending. But you need to bring it back to reality in a way that shows a clear road towards that goal. Don’t focus on your product yet. Layout the steps it would take to reach that fairytale. Be real here. Show how difficult it would be to reach on their own. Negativity isn’t your goal, just down-to-earth, empathetic education.
What you’ve done is given them a taste of the future they want. For a moment, they already achieved their desires through you and your story. Then you subtly brought them back reality and to the reason why they never had it before you came along. Why?
3. YOU WANT YOUR PLACE IN THIS STORY TO BE THE HERO’S SIDEKICK
Every customer has their own story and in it, they save the day. That’s why they came to you. They’re heroes in need of a trusty sidekick to swoop down in the nick of time, giving them some essential plot device that’s going to allow them to save the day easily. If your product or service is worth anything, it takes a problem they have and makes it easier to solve or solves it all together. That’s a sidekick role. Get them to trust you as such and they’ll always come back when a new story needs telling.
Remember, you can’t have Lone Ranger if there ain’t no damn Tonto. Just wouldn’t be right, man.
What’s your story? Are you telling it effectively? Let me know your thoughts.