Storytelling is an essential part of marketing design – here’s why.

Everyone is a storyteller in modern marketing! A guest blog by Chris Sissons.

Everyone tells stories. Not you? OK you walk into a business network meeting, put down your bag, clip on your badge and approach a stranger. You explain what you do and then they ask: “Why?”

“Well” you say, “my websites are really beautiful with customer specific graphics and designed to optimise traffic and conversions …”

Uh-huh!

“Yes and so does every other website designer. What I want to know is why do you design websites?”

How can you answer that question without telling a story?

“Well, when I was a kid, my mother used to take me on her knee and we looked at books with huge colour plates of great paintings. She taught me at an early age about composition, perspective, colour, light and shade. I guess, websites are a great way for me to express my fascination with art in a practical way that helps people. When I hear someone praise my websites, I see my mother.”

Using Your Business Story For Networking At Business Events.

Attend a business network and you are likely to tell or hear a story, in the first 10 minutes. Great! So, what’s the problem? Facts convey what your business does but stories show why it exists. Whatever you sell, people are more likely to buy when they know like and trust you.

Unscripted or unrehearsed stories are unlikely to do your business justice. Have you harnessed the full power of storytelling? In this post, I’ll show you what storytelling does for your business. If you would like to know more about storytelling in marketing, follow the links at the end.

The John Lewis Christmas Advert campaigns have become synonymous with the launch of Christmas! 

Awareness

You finish your presentation with a smashing call to action. “If you want to know more, sign up for a one-to-one interview with me. There’s no charge and I can tell you more about this fantastic solution to this difficult problem.”

The odd thing is, everyone tells you how much they enjoyed your talk; that they indeed have the problem and your solution is really interesting.

So, why the hell did no-one sign up?

You spoke powerfully and with authority and yet no-one signed up.

When an oyster senses a bit of grit, it secretes calcium carbonate that hardens into a pearl. The oyster is made comfortable and need no longer worry about getting rid of the grit. We do the same with problems we can’t solve, even forgetting we have the problem. If someone finds a solution to our problem, why bother? We’re comfortable, no point in spending money on it.

We use stories to strip away the pearl, “rub raw the sores of discontent” and so motivate our audience to take action.

If you present your business as a technical solution to a problem, your offer is not compelling. People might think it’s a good idea but will not act on that thought. Your message lacks emotional heart. Many problems are slow-burn, possible to bear for many years, even when painful, irritating and frustrating. Your task is to motivate your market, make them hungry for a change, at last within their grasp.

You get nowhere in business if no-one wants your product or service; if you offer a brilliant solution to a problem no-one believes they have. Here are two things to consider before you even mention what you offer.

  • How to show your audience they have the problem you solve. People do nothing if they do not recognise they have the problem.
  • How to show it is possible to solve the problem. Your market will live with a problem for years, if they do not believe it is possible to solve it.
Stories help you raise awareness of the business problem; that it has solutions and you have a solution that is worth a try. #marketing #business Click To Tweet

People remember you because your story helped them feel something about your business.

Attention

If you are anything like me, you receive dozens of marketing emails each day. Out of these, there will be precious few you read from beginning to end. Have you asked yourself why these few hold your attention? I suspect it is not merely their topic that interests you. There is something about their style that means you always open and read. What is it?

Other people pay attention to authors different from your favourites. But the chances are authors who hold your attention, hold the attention of many others. They have a compelling business narrative, based on excellent storytelling skills.

Stories capture and hold attention. They help explain why your business exists. This builds an emotional bridge between you and your audience.

Consider this from the storyteller and marketer Megan Macedo:

“Your story is more important than your message. Your story is what opens the door for people to want to hear your message. If you’re doing powerful work the world needs to know about, you need to tell your story. And not just any version of your story – you need to tell the version of your story that will speak to your audience and open them up to your work.”

Why not follow Megan on Twitter HERE

When you capture and hold attention, you engage emotionally with your audience and they are more likely to listen and act on your message. A well-told appropriate story told to the right audience can move them to a buying state without any mention of your offer. All you need to do is tell them what to do next!

Positioning

When I find a good artisan baker, why should I go elsewhere for my bread? Maybe I like to try different types of bread but if my baker builds a community of people who like their bread, people who feel they belong to a movement, who want to be part of something, I’m likely to be a regular customer.

How do they do this? Through their business narrative that explains what’s special about this business in this place and time. That narrative includes stories, recipes, events, a coffee shop, ability to explain why this new loaf is special. The presence of other artisan bakers is not a problem because this one has its unique position and commands loyalty from its customers.

Consider this quote from Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why”:

“There’s barely a product or service on the market today that customers can’t buy from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service and about the same features. If you truly have a first-mover’s advantage, it’s probably lost in a matter of months. If you offer something truly novel, someone else will soon come up with something similar and maybe even better.”

Everyone has competitors and some will be good friends and powerful allies. How do we show how our offers differ from theirs? The stories we tell meet that purpose, by showing why we run our business.

What makes your business distinctive? It is you, through the stories you tell. Your stories explain why your business has chosen you. They invite prospects to participate in an offer and build a relationship with you. This relationship means they come back to you when they have a problem and do not shop around. These are the people likely to be at the front of the queue whenever you launch a new offer.

So What?

Storytelling is an essential part of marketing design. If you do it well, you make a big difference to your business. You need a collection of stories that together form a consistent narrative across the media channels you use, through your sales funnel and between different audiences with various needs.

This may sound complicated and the truth is marketing is an art before it is a science. Get the right narrative in place and proven marketing methods will start to work for you.

If you think I may be able to help, join my Facebook Group, Market Together – Storytelling in Marketing.

I run twice monthly Lunch and Learns for business people to try out their stories and receive feedback from other business people. This is a great opportunity to work out how storytelling applies to your business. Follow this link for the Telling Stories: Making Business programme and other activities.

Contact me by commenting here or on Facebook, to find out more about my coaching offer.

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For more about storytelling for marketing success and other marketing expert insights why not get involved with the Power Hour Network, a monthly networking event in Sheffield that empowers, educates and engages small business from across the Sheffield City Region with marketing for business improvement!

How can effective marketing improve your business? Get in touch! Let’s have a chat about getting your business moving!

 

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