Everyone loves a good story!
Humans have been telling stories since 15,000 B.C. as a way to connect, entertain and pass along important information.
Thousands and thousands of years of sharing and listening to stories has given the art of storytelling some unfathomable power. Whether you are trying to attract new customers or engage your current ones, quality storytelling is the way to go.
Many people think that the art of storytelling is something difficult and complex, reserved only for certain skilled members of society. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The skills necessary to tell a story can be acquired through practice and with the right toolkit, everyone can become a master storyteller.
Stories have become so much a part of us that we actually think in stories.
- We tell stories to explain how things work.
- We tell stories to help us make decisions.
- We tell stories to justify the decisions we make.
- We even tell stories to create our own identities.
Unfortunately, as businesses have taken more of a data-driven approach to sales & marketing, we are beginning to view people as numbers and statistics.
A key part to marketing messaging is understanding these two ideas:
- Every customer is the hero of their own story.
- Every customer makes decisions that align with the story they are telling themselves.
Do not view the customer interaction with our marketing goggles on, where our thoughts are influenced by our own bias. Instead see it all from their point of view….
How to tell a story that your customers actually want to read
- Know your audience
This first step is crucial and will determine how long the story should be and what language you should be using. Before beginning your story, spend 5 minutes thinking about who you’re targeting.
Who are you speaking to? Millennials or Baby Boomers? Are they looking for a luxe experience or a budget-friendly one? Do you need to come across more professional or will a friendly tone work better?
2. Make the story less about you.
It is so important to avoid creating a world for your customers that revolves around you and your brand –– it must revolve around your customer.
3. Make the story more about them. Make them care.
Whether emotionally, intellectually or aesthetically, you need to make your audience care. To create a story centered around your customer, you need to actually understand your customer. This requires understanding what goes on in their mind –– which you can read more about here.
4. Create a villain in your story.
Real-life villains can be literally anything – whatever problem you are solving for. Tax-season. Bad Data. Lead Generation. Our job as marketers is to find our customer’s villains and give them the sword (our product or service) to conquer them –– more on that in the next section.
Whatever villain your customer is fighting, you need to highlight it in the story you’re telling so they can now not just empathize with the character but actually step into the character’s shoes.
4. Add conflict.
Tell a story of your customer miserably struggling with the issue you are solving for discovering the shield that is your service… and then experiencing what life can look like problem free.
5. Add a Happily Ever After ending.
Happily ever after is when your customer uses your product or service and kills the villain. Communicate this “happily ever after” in compelling (but believable) language.
“The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind.” Vera Nazarian
Our customers never buy from us but rather they buy for themselves. Again, a simple idea, but one often overlooked. If more marketers and entrepreneurs were aware of the fact that their customer’s made buying decisions as heroes of their own stories, we would see less “about us” storytelling and we should see powerful storytelling focused on the customer rather than me, me, me and more meeeeeee.