The Power of Storytelling
I have been teaching about telling stories for our business this month over in my free facebook group Your Brand Story. Read on to discover why it is so powerful to use stories to help us connect with our audience and to sell to them…
Why stories exist
People have always told stories, and listened to them. They have been part of our culture worldwide for thousands and thousands of years – have a read of my previous blog if you are interested – The History of Storytelling.
Stories entertained, taught lessons, and recorded what had happened. Now we read and watch them as a form of escapism and entertainment, but they also connect us with each other and our past.
Before stories could be written down, they were passed on from generation to generation, orally, and/or visually with painted pictures on rocks and in caves. Stories were a way to remember what had happened, by keeping the drama and emotions of events in the retelling of them, rather than a list of boring facts.
After those thousands and thousands of years of listening to stories, our brains are automatically wired to understand them and process the information from them. Our brains can do that easily and quickly too.
There is a huge amount of information and noise out there around us, and our brains are constantly scanning it all, working to categorise and organise it all, keeping the info that it needs to help us survive, and thrive, and discarding anything else that is extra to that.
On top of that, if info seems too random, not useful, too hard to understand, it will take up too many calories to try and work it out, and so it doesn’t, it conserves the calories for surviving and thriving, and ignores the confusing info.
Hear a story though, and our brains can understand it easily, and we listen.
What stories do
We tell stories to touch the heart of our listener. Stories allow us to connect with each other as human beings. Stories help us make easy sense of what we hear/see/read. We engage with a story. We like a story because we can sympathise with the characters.
A story takes a series of events and distills them into the essence of what really matters. It organises the information in such a way that people are compelled to listen.
And there is in fact a story formula that has been worked out over centuries. Film-makers almost always use this to capture our attention at the cinema, our modern-day get together to listen to a story! Stories using this formula follow this plan:
There is a character who wants something, but they encounter a problem before they can get it. At the peak of their despair, a guide steps into their life, gives them a plan, and calls them to action. That action helps them avoid failure, and ends in success.
Using this formula will get people’s attention, keep us watching and following a movie to the end, without getting bored and leaving.
The story formula puts everything into order so the brain doesn’t have to work to understand what’s going on. And it gets people to pay attention.
We need to be able to easily and quickly understand who the hero is, what the hero wants, who the hero has to defeat to get what they want, what tragic thing will happen if they don’t win, and what wonderful thing will happen if they do. And if the story does that, then we are captivated.
Using stories in our business
So how does this actually transfer to your business?
A story will hold your customers’ attention. They will engage and listen. Tell your audience a story and you will gain their support. Now that’s the power of storytelling!
A story will help far more to get them to listen, and to connect with you, than just telling them a set of facts. A story gives people a reason to care about what you are saying. They’ll sympathise with the characters, plot, and lessons learnt. They’ll relate to the story, and therefore your message.
Storytelling will help you connect with your clients and build the relationship you need to with them, much quicker and easier than without.
Your customer the hero
Back to that story formula. There is the hero, and there is the guide who helps the hero. Now listen and take note – you are not the hero.
Your customer/client is the hero. And you are the guide. Your customer/client will engage with your stories when they can see themselves in them as the hero.
The stories you tell, need to be about your customer, not just about you.
And you need to position yourself as the guide, as the expert, to help your customers/clients to overcome their challenges, to solve their problems, to help them live the life they want – by booking your services or buying from you.
Remember though that your audience will lose interest if they have to use too much brain power to understand information, or if there are too many different stories and it is too confusing. Nobody remembers a company that makes noise. Everything we write must serve the plot, must be relevant, must put our brand/products/services into our customers’ story.
So make sure that wherever your customer/client comes across you, on your website, social media post, any marketing you do, that the answers to these questions are immediately clear:
1.What do you offer? 2. How will it make my life better? 3. What do I need to do to buy it?
If they are, then your customer/client is more likely to engage with your brand, and your story.
And if you can concentrate on the aspects of your brand and your products/services that will help your client/customer to survive and thrive, their brain will help them to take notice.
The power of storytelling
Using the power of storytelling will help all this, help you connect with your audience, and help you to sell to them.
Tell a story, with a beginning, middle and end: set the scene of the story, show the conflict/problem/struggle, and then show the resolution. Whether that’s on your website, in an email, on a social media post, in marketing material, or in a photograph.
Use stories to:
Show them that what you sell/the service you provide, is going to help them survive and thrive, and make their life better.
Show them that you understand their struggles and problems and that your products/services will solve them.
Show them that they are the hero, and that you are the guide/expert who can help them.
Where to tell stories
Use stories whenever you need to get your audience’s attention and for them to listen to you – so all the time!
Use them in your blogs, in your emails, in your social media posts on Facebook, shorter ones on Twitter, and they’re especially suited for Instagram Stories! In any marketing material you create. A story will help you to get PR too. Don’t forget your website, where you can tell your story on your About page, and customer stories too with testimonials and case studies. And in videos and lives, podcasts and you tube. And of course, if you ever write a book for your business, (or a novel!) now you know how to reel your reader in, get their attention, and teach them what you know. All with the power of storytelling.
I hope this helps you to understand the power of using storytelling in your business. …If you’re interested, last week’s blog was about The History of Storytelling – have a read to discover just how amazingly old some stories are!
If you’d like help with creating your brand, purchase my workbook: Create Your Brand Workbook: 20 Essential Steps to creating your beautiful stand-out brand.
Another workbook will be ready shortly all about using stories and storytelling in your business, to help you to come up with ideas of the stories you can tell. Let me know if you’re interested and you’ll be the first to hear when it becomes available 🙂
PS. Are you in my free Facebook group Your Brand Story yet? For tips, chat and trainings on growing your brand, visibility and business, and getting better brand images. Click the photo to come over and join us:
The Power of Storytelling