Storytelling is an excellent tool for a business and is essential to building a great company. We have been telling stories for a very long time, and they are imperative to everyday communications. When effectively used storytelling can do remarkable things for a brand. It has the potential to help create a compelling marketing strategy, win over new and current audiences, and of course, generate profit. The point of starting an online business is to make it successful, which is why we offer some tips below, and we reveal further business strategies during our free webinar training. Join us and get the scoop on why storytelling is essential a businesses’ growth!
Forbes argues that storytelling is something that relates to an audience, and it can also result in a business making a lot of money. When people invest in a company, they want to know the story behind it and what makes the brand a good fit for their needs.
Heartfelt storytelling is both profitable and human.
The most successful companies in the world have profound stories behind them (often deeply tied to their founders) that instill a sense of bigger purpose and meaning into what they do. For example, Apple, Tesla and Google are so much more than companies – they are legacy brands created by visionaries who aspire(d) to change the world.
Perhaps a business doesn’t aspire to be the next Apple, but it is worth asking: should the business just be a product or service provider, or a vision that an audience believes in and subscribes to?
It’s no coincidence that brands mentioned above have been ranked among the top 10 most empathetic companies in the Global Empathy Index, and are amongst the most profitable and fastest growing in the world. Additionally, the top 10 companies on the index generated 50% more earnings and increased in value more than twice than those in the bottom 10, showing that there is a strong link between empathy and commercial success.
People would rather invest in a human than a company, and in fact, some of the most admired and financially successful companies are known for delivering financial returns and building people and society. It is both an ethical and strategic move for businesses to do the best they can to humanize themselves through their messaging… and mean it.
Location Rebel asks us to think hard about writing a story on your site that’s intentional with your audience in mind. Consider ways to develop a compelling marketing story that’ll win over customers and result in having a more profitable business.
Scientists have discovered that your brain doesn’t distinguish too much between real life and imagined scenarios. You probably remember a dream or nightmare that felt real and stuck with you the whole day after you woke up right? The same regions of your brain that light up in “real life,” light up during fictitious encounters (a movie, book, story, etc.) also:
Scientists call this capacity of the brain to construct a map of other people’s intentions “theory of mind.”
“Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers.”
So what kind of language are you using to tell your story…
…on your website?
…with your social media platforms?
…during your sales conversations?
…on your phone calls?
More importantly…are you telling a story or just giving out information?
What Does a Good Marketing Story Look Like?
Seth Godin says that:
“The story we tell ourselves is actually what is being sold. The challenge is not how to be successful, but how do we figure out how to matter. And the way we matter is by connecting with people with a story. A story that resonates, a story they care about and a story they’ll tell other people.”
When I talk about “story,” I’m not necessarily talking about the “Once upon a time…” framework. This is a bit more intricate. A good story, like a good building has to be planned.
It has to be intentional.
There are several ways to tell a brand story but the framework I’ve stumbled upon that I think really nails it is the one that Donald Miller lays out in his book, “How to Tell a Story.”
Miller is a master of story and he suggests laying things out in a very particular way when thinking through your brand story.
According to Miller (and I agree), every great story contains the following elements:
…a call to action
…a result: comedy (happy ending) or tragedy (a not so happy ending)
Think about your favorite book or movie and walk through those elements in your head. Are they there? Every good story that has ever been told has those elements in place.
Think about how your readers can get wrapped up in your stories by visually describing things such as warm cookies, how the air smells, and similar techniques. Wordstream reveals how else to get your readers engaged through the senses.
Get Your Readers Engaged Through the Senses
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. Do you see what I’m doing here? Did your heart just melt into a fuzzy ball? Appealing to the senses through your story immediately engages the reader. Set the scene by describing what it visually looks like. What sounds occurred? What smells filled the air? How did it feel? Appealing to these senses that the majority of your readers have experienced has a way of engrossing them into your story. As Bates stated, “Get the entire brain engaged instead of just a thin slice.” Bates follows the principles of VAKO: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, and Olfactory. With these four elements in your story, you’re likely to draw in and lock down your audience. But make sure not to overdo it, your story needs some meat (cough, cough the 5 C’s) to keep your audience interested.
Start Your Story in the Middle
Far too often storytellers or marketers give way too much detail upfront. They start their story in chronological order, putting the audience to sleep before the exciting stuff occurs. By the time you’ve reached the AH-HA moment, your audience members are synced into their Instagram feeds or in a deep-dream filled REM sleep. Perhaps they just clicked onto a new page, never to return again. If you are anything like me then your attention span is about as long as an inch-worm so snap out of it and get your audience into it. “Life happens in chronological order – that’s boring!” states Bates. “Start in the middle, where things are exciting. It’s much more interesting.”
Inc. reveals five ways to use stories in your marketing strategies and how these five techniques can help an audience better identify with your brand.
The following are just five of the many benefits of using stories in your marketing.
- Stories convince and persuade in a non-threatening way
Stories can help build empathy in your audience, reducing the risk they feel in buying from you. Listing the features and benefits of your products will never do this, no matter how eloquently they're written.
Jane Praeger, who teaches strategic storytelling at Columbia University, explains it best: “As people in [the] audience begin to empathize with the characters in the story, their tendency to be defensive and counter argue, begins to recede. That's why storytelling is a great tool for getting people on board with a new idea.”
- Stories let people experience your product/service before they ever even try it.
In his book, The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall describes stories as “feelings we don't have to pay [full cost] for”. In other words, stories allow us to feel certain emotions without having to live the experiences ourself. Use stories to draw your prospects in, allowing them to experience those emotions that help them connect to your brand.
- Stories humanize your brand.
People increasingly want to buy from other real people, who they know and trust. It's how brands become bigger brands. Stories can help with this. As you'll see in the examples below, stories have a way of making your business more personable and relatable, and help lower the risk your prospects may feel in doing business with you.
- Stories boost the viral factor.
A product page is unlikely to get social likes and shares – at least to the point where it goes viral. A story, on the other hand, is perfect for sharing.
According to Sumo's analysis of the 10,000 most shared articles online, those that evoked awe, laughter and amusement were most likely to get shared. Try evoking those emotions with your product page!
- Stories are memorable.
Long after your marketing campaign has ended, the recollection of your story will remain (assuming it was done right!). A well-crafted story not only draws readers in, but also leaves a lasting impression. Why settle for boring, forgettable copy when you could be using stories to leave a permanent (or at least long-lasting) mark?
Don’t you love a good story? As we just revealed throughout this article, stories have a way of helping people learn more about your company and want to get more involved, whether it’s by subscribing to your blog, newsletter, or purchasing products. Tell compelling stories, and you’ll create a profitable and successful business. Join us during our free webinar training to learn how to set up a new business and develop a profitable powerhouse.