Stories are the fabric of all good marketing. I guarantee that more companies will use storytelling in their business as they see how important it is to sell product. It’s stories that allow people to connect more deeply with what you do.
Storytelling in business will only get more prevalent as social media grows.
Although the marketing focus used to be you telling your own story (old school advertising of “spray and pray”), it has shifted to your customers helping tell your story.
Your Mission Starts the Story
People need to know what you stand for. I was looking around for a great vision statement and out of the hundreds I read, Google’s was my favorite:
Google’s mission is to organize the world‘s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
Google’s vision is succinct and helps the company stay focused on what is important to them.
Before everyone knew about Google, people would tell their friends to “Google it.” That two-word story would start a conversation. Maybe they knew Google, maybe they didn’t, and if they didn’t they would have to ask, “What do you mean by Google it?” The person would then explain that they needed to go to Google.com and type in the search phrase that they needed. Of course they would explain that Google would make sure that the best results came back and end it by saying it’s the “best search engine by a mile.”
When you do amazing work, it’s your customers that can tell the most effective story to all their friends.
Let’s look at TV as a medium for storytelling. What is your favorite TV show?
Every great show is based on a story that you can connect with. It’s this story that keeps you coming back for more. It’s why soap operas are so popular. They suck you in because you want to find out what happened to Dr. Drake and his evil twin Derrick.
So many marketers rattle on about the benefits of what their product/service does and not the stories of who they helped. What pain does your thing solve? How does it help the consumer? Who can help explain your story?
“Your job is no longer about selling. Your job is about firing off as many synapses in your customer’s brain as possible.” – Hugh MacLeod
You have to tell people stories that get them excited about what you have to say. If you keep throwing out boring blog posts, interviews and tweets, no one is going to care that you have something to say.
I’m going to tell you about Danielle LaPorte and how she has used her amazing storytelling superpowers and how she has been able to achieve a connection with her audience that is meaningful and profitable.
Danielle is one of my favorite bloggers. The reason that I love her so much is her ability to weave in a message within each story. She doesn’t just release a product to the world and hope it does well. She let’s you in on the idea, and she brings you along for the ride. As an example, she:
Told her husband she was going to create The Fire Starter Session, now known as The Spark Kit. She ran upstairs and tweeted to her followers that she was launching the program on April 7th.
- Shared the process step-by-step.
- When she had a great interview with (insert expert here), she shared it on Facebook.
- How she reached deadlines.
- How she got cover design.
- She kept everyone involved and slowly built up the excitement as she got closer to the deadline.
When you share your story with people and explain what is going on behind the scenes, that’s when people see who you are and what your company is trying to accomplish. This is where the emotional goldmine exists. Great companies know that you often spend your money based on emotion. You buy something because it excites you.
A company that can draw you in with a great story will win the sale every time. You become attached and can’t let go.
You have to look at what kind of story you want to tell and how people can connect with it. Look at Chic-fil-A and its cow advertisements. They created a story that makes people laugh. People who like fast food chicken connect with the cows asking you on billboards, TV and magazines to buy more chicken. They created a talking point for their core audience. They hit the right funny bone and people want to eat their food.
Danielle creates a story around her creative process and brings people along for the ride. She talks about her meeting with Oprah’s company. If that story falls flat with some people, so be it. She has 10 other stories that excite people and show her paving the way for other people. People want to emulate other successful people in order to become their best selves. Danielle shows how success is possible and how other people can use similar tactics to hers to become successful.
You have to look at what you do well and why people want to connect with your story and buy from you.
Brian Clark put it this way:
“It’s rare that an attack against your competitor will work on the basis of attack motivation, but comparative advertising (Pepsi challenge, Mac Guy and PC guy) can work if you invoke enough approach motivation due to the expressed benefits and differentiation. On the other hand, negative political ads work on independents not by triggering attack motivation, but instead by prompting avoidance… the undecided voter doesn’t want to make the wrong choice. Thinking in terms of motivation makes selling with emotion a little less mysterious. And spending the time to truly know who your prospects are makes motivation crystal clear.”
– Brian Clark of CopyBlogger from How to Motivate People to Buy
People used to talk about a Mission Statement, but that is so 1990’s.
Now there are marketing departments that talk about creating a movement. This is also tricky territory because everyone wants a movement, but that usually means you have to have some sort of injustice.
Apple fought the establishments of IBM and then Microsoft. Zappos fought bad customer service. Toyota fought gas-guzzling monsters.
This is where creating your story gets difficult. You have to figure out what you do differently from others and why it matters. Then you can get people to share your story with the world.
Ask yourself some tough questions:
- Why do we do what we do?
- Why does what we do matter to the world?
- How can we get people to join in our cause?
When you are crystal clear on all three of these questions, then you have a sharable story that just needs to get off the ground.
What’s your company’s story?