How To Use Storytelling In and For Your Business
Good Vs. Evil
Let’s start with the popular good vs. evil theme. Most fairy tales are based on this storyline, as is a lot of current fiction (think Harry Potter) and your favorite TV Crime Drama. The basic storyline is that you are the good guy and you have to defeat the bad guy.
How could this work in your marketing? Let’s say you own a website that vets various contractors and handymen. You also have a review system in place. In other words, you’re the go-to guy when I need to hire someone to fix something around the house. The bad guy is the shady contractor who’s only after a quick buck and won’t fix things right. From there, you can tell your story and either focus on the good and positive coming out of your website and your recommendations. Or you can share how terribly things can go wrong if I hire the bad guy.
Rags To Riches
This storyline also shouldn’t come as a surprise. You’ve seen it in a million forms from Cinderella to Shark Tank. The idea is to share how you went from nothing to where you’re at today. It’s the quintessential American story. This storyline works really well when you’re sharing how you’ve made your money online. If you’re marketing to marketers or business to business, this is the storyline you’ll use more than any other.
But it doesn’t have to be used only in the “making money’” market. You could tweak the same storyline and share how you found more time in your day; how you’re more organized with less stuff; or how you found your faith, your courage, or your self-esteem. Any journey of growth can be told with a “rags to riches ”storyline.
Use Three Basic Story Lines In Your Marketing
Stories work in marketing. They are found in commercials, in the way brands present themselves and just about any type of marketing material you can imagine. And they work really well for us online marketers.
The hardest part of telling a story is figuring out what to tell. It’s not easy to come up with a good storyline when you’re staring at a blank screen. The solution is to stick with one of the tried and true basic storylines and tweak from there. Here are three of the most popular ones.
The Reluctant Hero Returns
This storyline should sound familiar too. The boy leaves home, builds his fortune while he’s away, or learns something important and then comes home to share the wealth and knowledge. Along the way, he might save the day. Does that sound like a Western or Romantic comedy you’ve seen lately? With this storyline, you can share your personal story of how you discovered the niche you are in. Maybe you’re the gluten-free expert because your child was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and you and your family had to find a way to live with it.
7 Tips To Come Up With Storytelling Ideas
Telling stories is a great way to connect with your audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re up on stage, teaching a class, writing an email to your list, recording a podcast or writing a blog post. Storytelling should play a big part of your content creation and marketing strategies. But how do you come up with those stories in the first place? Here are seven tips to help you keep the storytelling ideas flowing so you can come up with just the right one for just about any situation.
1. Share A Recent Encounter
Often the best stories are things that are happening to you and all around you. Think about how who you’ve met recently, what you’ve been doing or what conversation you’ve been having. Can you tie that little story to an email or blog post you’re getting ready to write?
2. Recall A Conversation
Conversations you’ve had are another excellent source of story ideas. Without going into too many details or sharing too much information about the person you were talking to, share the essential message of the conversation in your storytelling.
3. Dig Deep and Share A Childhood Memory
Childhood memories are another excellent source of story ideas. The memories that stick with us from way back when are often the ones that taught us a valuable lesson or had a significant impact on who we are today. Think again about what you remember from your childhood and how you can tie those memories into what you’re doing today.
4. Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
There are stories going on all around us. Pay attention to the situations and conversations people have with you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many story ideas you’ll get just by paying attention your surroundings.
5. Carry A Little Notebook
We’ve established that there is plenty of stuff going on around us that can help us come up with story ideas. The hard part is remembering them when the time comes that it will be a good fit with the content or product we’re sharing. That’s why it’s important to write them down. Stick a little notebook and pen in your purse, briefcase or jacket. Keep it with you and jot down short notes about ideas, thoughts, conversations, and situations that have storytelling potential.
6. Listen To Your Family and Friends
Pay attention to your loved ones. They are sharing stories with you on a regular basis. Listen to your kids when they come home from school. Sit down for an after-school snack and ask them about their day. You’ll have an almost never-ending supply of storytelling material.
7. Connect Two Unrelated Events or Situations
A great way to get people to pay attention to your stories is to surprise them. And a simple way to do that is to connect two completely unrelated things. Find a little common ground between the two events and make it work. For example, you could tell a story about how your daughter got on student council and found a lesson in there that can also be applied to growing your social media audience. “How my daughter’s seat on her student council can help grow your Facebook reach” grabs your attention, doesn’t it?
Keep looking for new ideas and keep telling those stories to grow your business, connect with your readers and make the sale.
How Storytelling Can Improve Your Email Marketing
You’ve heard the saying the money is on the list. While this is true, you have to conduct marketing the right way to your best advantage. You have to keep your subscriber’s’ attention and share something with them that’s valuable. At the same time, you don’t want to share so much that they no longer need your products or services. On top of that, you also want to be entertaining and memorable as well.
Information bombards all of us in this day and age. What stands out and stays memorable is storytelling. Think about your favorite commercials and sales messages. The chances are that they were stories told through words, pictures, sound or film. The stories are what we connect with and remember. It’s a general human trait, something we can use to our advantage to improve our email marketing.
- Review what you’re doing with your list now:.
- Are you sharing just the facts?
- Or perhaps you’re focusing on the benefits and showing your readers how your products can improve their lives.
- Or are you focusing on informative content to show that you’re the expert in the field?
Those are all great ways to market to your readers, but the resulting messages can be a bit dry, making it hard to hold your reader’s attention.
Give this whole storytelling thing a try. Continue with the core of your message, but work a little story around it. For example, instead of sharing only the benefits of your great new gadget or course, share how you are using it. What have you’ve learned along the way and how it has improved your daily life.
Let’s say you wrote a course on efficiently using Facebook ads. Share a story about how you were spending hour-after-hour each day creating content, writing guest posts, and posting on social media to drive traffic to your opt-in page. It was taking you hours each day that took you away from your family and didn’t give you the leverage you needed. There was no way to scale it up.
Your breaking point was your son’s 4th birthday when you spent much of the day in front of your computer instead of with your family. You started to look at other inexpensive ways to drive traffic and came across Facebook Ads. After much trial and error, you came up with an easy to follow the system.
Or you share that you spend the past week at a romantic getaway with your spouse. Since the traffic is coming in on autopilot through your Facebook ads, you can take time to enjoy life and occasionally check in to make sure everything’s running smoothly. You’re turning $0.50 into $2.00 all day long, buying traffic from Facebook, while you’re enjoying a lovely vacation with your spouse.
Don’t be afraid to get a little personal. Share some of your history, hobbies, and interests. Or, talk about what’s going on in your life today. It’s an informative way to connect with your readers. They’ll open and read your emails to read the story about what’s going on in your life and about your marketing message. This works particularly well if you can tie the two together as in the examples above.
Storytelling As A Copywriting Technique
Copywriters know how crucial it is to grab your reader’s attention, and a good story is one of the best ways to do so. But it doesn’t stop there. Good storytelling can not only get your prospect’s attention, but the story can move them, compel them, and leave them ready to buy. However, the process has to reflect efficiently
Your account has to support your end goal. What are you trying to sell? Do you want the readers to buy a product, sign up for a service, or become a coaching client? Make sure that the storyline is relevant to the product or service and illustrates how the purchase will benefit the reader.
You’ll only close the sale when there’s a natural progressing from the first headline to the final call to action. If the story doesn’t support the product, you’ll grab their attention and entertain your readers, but you’re not generating customers.
Your story needs to flow well all the way through. You don’t want to risk losing readers along the way. Write your copy, then do something else for a while. Come back and read it. Can you tell if it flows well and makes sense? Usually, when you read an article aloud, you will feel the harmony versus the writing that makes you cringe or look at it twice.
Change that writing until the whole section flows well as you read. You don’t want to make assumptions that are clear in your head but leave the reader wondering what you mean or what happened in the story.
At the same time, keep the story to the point. It’s easy to go into storytelling mode and go on about a point. Your key to clarity is editing as you read the story aloud. Pay attention to areas where you go off track. Do you need three examples to illustrate one point? Pick the strongest one and ditch the other two.
There’s a fine line between too much information and so little that you lose your reader along the way or force her to jump to conclusions. The answer to clarity is where editing will help you refine your story until it fits the purpose of the copy perfectly. Go through it line by line and ask yourself:
Does this contribute to the overall storyline?
Does it move the action or character forward?
Or, is the content fluff and filler?
Throughout the writing and editing process keep your end goal front and center. Pay attention throughout the story to what you’re selling in the end because of the steps between leads the reader in a straight line to the order button.
Why Does Storytelling Work So Well?
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful marketing technique that works well for email, blog posts, video, blog content, social media and sales pages. The following excellent reasons explore why telling your readers, viewers, and visitors why stories work so well.
The neurochemical, Oxytocin, signals to your reader’s brain that to approach you is safe, especially when you show kindness or trust. The reader feels motivated to cooperate by showing empathy or the sense of a shared experience. This insight allows you to recognize how others are likely to react to a situation.
That is why the hero stories comprise at least half of the movies coming out of Hollywood. The hero moves beyond doubts and overcomes all tests of her strength or his courage to do right and win!
Storytelling is deeply rooted in our history. The telling of stories or oral history far predates any written word. For centuries it was the primary way to pass information from one person to the next and onto the subsequent generations. Before we had newspapers, radios and the internet, we had bards and minstrels who spread the word. Storytelling is part of our DNA.
Stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors when we feel a connection to the character or story context. We learn about language, action, and morals through stories. They are a strong pillar of the foundation for values and motivation we build our lives around. But, which stories keep a person’s undivided attention?
Two aspects that are the keys to a compelling story are:
1. The story holds your attention and connects with you.
2. The touching tale transports you through empathy for the character and the hero’s world.
Our personal histories are part of the culture. That alone explains why storytelling in business works so well, but it doesn’t stop there. The stories we tell allow us to connect emotionally with our audiences. We share a little about ourselves and our lives in those stories, which helps the readers and listeners to get to know us a better.
Stories also allow us to form an emotional bond with our audience. Stories can make you laugh and cry or confirm a point that you’ve known all along. As we share those emotions, we earn the audience’s trust, and that is when they start to feel comfortable enough around us to get out their wallet and purchase a product or service we recommend.
Along the way, we get to know our readers, subscribers, and customers better. Stories lead to reactions. People will comment on your stories and share their own. It gives you a deeper understanding of what moves them, what problems they have, and what they seek.