the importance of stories to help your marketing performance

What are your best stories?

It’s no secret that humans love to tell stories and we enjoy connecting with them. From the earliest cave paintings to the latest Harry Potter or James Patterson (he writes the Alex Cross stories, amongst others), we all love stories. They get into our psyche as they transport us to another time and place. They let us imagine what is happening and what could happen. That’s why story telling can be such a powerful marketing tool.

In a world which is increasingly moving online, marketing stories are even more important. They can be told online and offline; consumed by ear or by eye.

So what are the best new stories you have from your business this year?

  • What did you do for your best client this year?
  • How did you win your biggest client of the year?
  • What was the most obscure project you have worked on, or client you’ve worked with?
  • Which client was the most fun to work with, and why?

Which stories?

In the same way that we don’t remember every book we’ve ever read or every tale our parents ever told us, your audience doesn’t want to hear about every project and every client you’ve worked with this year. So what stories do you tell them?

How about the ones that involve clients who are similar, either in industry or size or issue? Why do this? So the listener can empathise. You want them to be whisked away to a time when they had that issue. As you talk, or they read, you want them to imagine working with you and getting the great results you did for the client in your story. If you have multiple stories of the same ilk, imagine how relaxed that person will be about using your product or services.

What’s in the story?

  1. The Hero/Heroine: For the story to work, the listener needs to imagine themselves in the story. You have to make it as easy as possible to do that. If the central character is very similar to them, it becomes easy for them.
  2. The Scene: What has happened to that central character? What is the issue or problem they have? I bet its something your listener has had happen to them (or at least it should be).
  3. The Prize: Whether it is destroying the One Ring made by Sauron himself or the increased productivity delivered by a great new telecoms solution (for example), there is always a prize for the central character. They want to know what the prize is and you want them imagining having that prize. Make this bit a good chunk of the story.
  4. The Quest: Every good tale has a task for the central character to complete before the end. However, in your story what you did should be relatively short (unlike those of Bilbo Baggins). Let them understand what you did.
  5. The Happy Ending: Disney made sure every tale had a happy ending, even if there was a sad bit just before the end. Your stories will always have a happy ending.

What does the story do?

  1. Stories demonstrate your ability to understand the desires and issues of your clients and prospects.
  2. They show your ability to help them achieve their goals. They are great evidence.
  3. Success stories from your clients also add credibility to your brand.
  4. Story-telling is also a fantastic way to reduce perceived risk held in their minds of potential clients.
  5. Prospect and clients look for a deeper connection with your brand and story-telling is an easy, affordable way to enable this.
  6. Your audience enjoys the emotional power story-telling can deliver.  They help to create a more intimate relationship between your target audience and your brand, making them more likely to choose you to do business with.

So what are your best stories?