Storytelling 101: How to use Storytelling in Marketing Your Business

What's your business story? Would anyone care?

Storytelling is something humans have been doing for thousands of years. What began as sand drawings on rock walls has evolved into high-definition 3D movie marathons. It's the ability to transport a reader or listener somewhere else, or to make them feel something, and that's powerful.

Creating copy that sells is the master skill of marketing. It can easily set you apart from your competitors. So too can personality.

Over the years I’ve met many business owners who’s lively personalities were at odds with their stuffy and overly formal marketing collateral.

No customer walks away thinking what a professional advertisement. They turn the page or change channel, and you’ve lost a sale.

That's why I'm going to show you how to create powerful storytelling.

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is the art of engaging the mind and capturing your audience's attention with words. It's sharing stories that entertain, educate, and elicit an emotion.

Some might say it's sitting around a fireplace listening to your granny recounting a moment in her life that she's carried with her for nearly seven decades.

Others might say it's watching a theatrical production or reading the news.

Stories create new worlds (think Star Wars, Comic Book heroes like Superman and Thor, J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.)

Brand Storytelling: Why sharing your business story is so important

People connect with brands that tell a story and create an emotional connection. This, of course, does not mean you should be afraid to change your company logo or anything like that.

For example, a children's brand will likely tug on your heart strings, a food brand like Nandos might make you laugh or an adventure brand can help you to experience freedom and thrills.

Facts tell, stories sell.

Consumers are wired for communicating and listening in story form. It's no wonder that so many influencers share personal stories. They know, it's what creates meaning connections and leads to meaningful conversations with their audience.

Also, the truth is we're more inclined to remember story.

Knowing how your brand got its start in life is pretty powerful. Facebook was launched to connect Harvard students. It now connects people across the world.

Uber was born when two friends couldn't find a taxi home. They wanted to give people a way to call a cab via your phone.

So think about your brand story. What emotion do you want to inspire? What do you want to be remembered for?

Learn how to implement storytelling in your marketing emails here.

Storytellers - Why you want to control the narrative

When you control the media, you control what gets published.

Now that’s a really powerful position to be in.

Just think how much easier it would be to get the word out about your brand or new product - not to mention the cost savings. Buying media space is expensive, but not when you own the channel.  

You also control the narrative.

Let’s face it; most of the media has an agenda. They’re not impartial. They’re spinning stories in their favor, and that’s why you need to think of yourself as a media company.

You want to reach your audience as directly as possible, and you want to control the narrative.

You could become the go-to person that people hire to get high yield returns. We’re seeing this a lot on TikTok, Instagram, Youtube, and LinkedIn right now.

Your average Joe is becoming an internet superstar overnight. And that’s because 4.7 billion people use social media everyday.

Half the world’s population.

In America alone, 82% of people consume social media content, and that’s why you need to have your content machine up and running.

Your customers are on these sites. They’re actively scrolling, looking for content that can solve their problems, entertain, and engage.

If you’re delivering value, if someone sees you and takes that advice, they’ll know who to call when they have a problem.

What makes good storytelling?

Have you ever asked a friend what they thought of a particular movie, and the response you got was, "the cinematography was incredible."

Effective storytelling understands that you don't need all these high-tech gadgets to tell a great story.

In marketing, you need these four key elements:

1. Relevance

Before sending anything ask yourself, "Is this relevant to my audience or customer?" If it has no relevance to their business or personal life, they're not going to read it.

That's a wasted marketing opportunity. You want to send content they'd care about. It needs to educate, entertain, and inspire.

2. Interesting

What is an interesting story? It all depends on your audience. If you don't understand what motivates them to buy, you might post the wrong type of content.

But often you can create interest by posting something outrageous or even clickbait.

It's all about hitting consumers' curiosity buttons. For example, numbers are compelling. If you posted an interesting stat about the number of business owners that close their doors in the first five years, that's something I'd be interested in.

So what can you share that would generate interest.

3. Controversial

Nothing can spark conversation quicker than a controversial opinion.

Think back to the time when Elon Musk raised concerns over bitcoin. Overnight the popular investment platform tanked.

Or the other day, when a CEO posted a photo of himself crying on LinkedIn, explaining how difficult it was for him to let three staff go.

That post went viral for all the wrong reasons. People were outraged that he'd wasted a chance to find good people a new job, instead using the opportunity as a pity party.

His story was featured on mainstream media like the New York Post, Market Watch, and Buzzfeed. It garnered thousands of comments, with some praising and others vilifying the CEO.

But if you're looking for an emotional and visceral reaction to your marketing story, consider sharing something controversial. Just be prepared for potential backlash.

4. Unexpected

Can you share something unexpected that will keep your audience glued to every word you say or email you send?

Maybe it's a limited offer, or a chance meeting. If you can surprise your audience, you can delight them.

Email is my preferred media for sharing stories. It's the car that drives my inbound marketing strategy.

Learn more about how I use email marketing in my business here.

An example of a successful brand narrative

After spending an evening with my parents-in-law (enough said), I was driving home, looking forward to a nice relaxing end to my Saturday night when I heard those dreaded words from my wife, "Let's stop off at the supermarket, I just need to pick up a couple of things".

I groaned and pulled into the car park.

Hating shopping more than almost anything else I tried my old classic line, "I'll wait for you in the car" - after all she was only picking up a couple of things and I could use that time productively on my iPhone to catapult some angry birds and complete that level I've been stuck on. But she would have none of it.

I finally found myself in the last aisle of the supermarket, holding a shopping basket heavy with the broken promise of "just a couple of things".

While my wife was busy deciding between grapefruit or coconut shampoo (that's a marketing lesson in itself), something caught my eye - a brilliant marketing ninja move, perfectly executed. Storytelling!

How to use storytelling in your business
Tell your audience about all the effort you to go to deliver and outstanding product or service.

Can you see the huge difference between the two bottles of shower gel on the right versus the one on the left?

The two bottles on the right are one of the best uses of product packaging I've seen in a long time.

The one on the left is boring, safe and almost indistinguishable from the 100 others on the shelf.

Are you telling your backstory?

Here's the lesson - tell your audience about all the effort that goes into delivering your product or service.

In your sales copy and even in your packaging give them the details of how you painstakingly prepare or manufacture your product.

This applies equally if you deliver services. Tell them about your skills, how you acquired them, all the checks and balances you have in place and how you train your staff.

The back story of your product or service is an absolutely essential part of your marketing. Don't let your efforts and skill go unnoticed.

It gives them an assurance that there is substance and quality behind your product. This is especially important if you are pitching a premium product or service.

Looking back at my photo of the shower gel above, you can see that the backstory here takes up the entire space on the bottle. There isn't even a logo or company name - very smart and very good use of prime real estate!

It will also help to build your brand.

Let's get real

The fact is, no one cares about your logo, company name or some dubious claim about being the leader in your industry. They want to know about what your product will do for them, and your backstory is essential to this.

So there you have it, I went from being an unwilling participant in a shopping trip to seeing a new twist on a valuable marketing principle - good things indeed come to those who wait.

Now back to assisting my avian allies topple those thieving pigs - they don't stand a chance!

If you enjoyed this article, check this valuable piece entitled, “What is Direct Response Marketing?” As a small business owner, it’s one of the brilliant ways to market your business.

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