Do you often feel like your online marketing is missing the mark? Many business owners are focusing on the latest fads in online marketing, often missing the most important and oldest technique to persuade people to take action - storytelling.
Storytelling has been a common thread throughout my life. It was while preparing for a speech at a local event recently that I fully realised just how much of an impact it’s had. Coincidentally, that speech posed the question: why is storytelling important in business?
The speech explored the storytelling threads that have run through my life by using the ol' Choose Your Own Adventure or Pick A Path concept. Some of the paths were:
- When I left Year 12, I had 3 job interviews in the space of a week and had to decide which one I wanted to choose - either become a trainee manager at Best and Less (it was my after school job at the time), become a real estate agent or become a cadet journalist on the wild West Coast of Tasmania, where it rains 9 months of the year and drips off the trees the other 3. I chose the latter.
- When I was 21 I started singing lessons and was encouraged to start songwriting. A few years later I’d sing the solo on an original song to 200 people with an 80-piece youth choir behind me.
- In 2010, I started a successful mummy blog where I talked about my weapons of mass lactation and how I’d wake of a morning with what looked like two fried eggs on my PJ top.
- In 2015, my lifelong dream to become an author became reality when I published the life story of one of Tasmania’s most prominent businessmen and his turning point in his life….
Tell me, did you imagine yourself in any of those stories? Maybe you could relate to some of it - I’m not sure if you like your eggs fried!
People are hardwired to listen to stories. It’s the way our brains learn, process and store information. So when we want to sell our service to our most aligned client, we can make it memorable and allow them to experience it before they invest by painting mental pictures in their head. Executive speech coach Patricia Fripp says:
“People don’t remember what you say as much as they remember what they see when you say it”Click To Tweet
But how on earth do you use that in business? It’s all well and good to tell these lovely stories, but if it doesn’t amount to any new business what was the point?
Why is storytelling important for your marketing
There are many storytelling archetypes to tell your business’ story, like the Hero’s Journey (think Star Wars and Harry Potter) or Overcoming the Monster (think Apple vs Microsoft), but many of these are about you and your business and can make your marketing one dimensional. I've also seen people cling to their story to the point it loses its impact because it’s been told too often.
It’s why it’s important for me to help business owners find a tapestry of everyday stories from their life and others’ that they can use every day in their online marketing and social media to soulfully move people to action.
Here's a quick list to answer why is storytelling important:
- Forming relationships to build the “know like and trust” factor.
- Humanising your brand. It allows your ideal client to identify with you
- Processing and retaining important information
- Selling in a soulful way – without any of the ick!
- Opens up a two-way conversation with potential and existing customers. People are more likely to open up to you when you’re not pushing your message at them.
So let’s look at some of those...
Allowing Your Ideal Client To Identify With You
If there are two businesses the same, which sell the same products or services, at the same price point, and in the same city, a person will choose to work with you over someone else because you resonate with them. It’s exactly the words one business owner said to me after she signed up to five of my free resources in one day “I like your style. I connect with you”.
People want to do business with people, not organisations. And, dare I say what we've all heard a thousand times before, "they want to do business with people they know, like and trust".
We achieve that through our stories, which is why the new trend in doing business soulfully has shifted us towards storytelling rather than the old push-based, one-way marketing where we talked AT people. You will see on social media that those who mistakenly use social media for traditional-style advertising messages get little engagement and those who use storytelling have thriving communities.
We ALL have stories to share. I spent 16 years as a journalist and what I realised was that even the most ordinary people can have the most extraordinary stories hiding inside of them.
One of the big mistakes business owners make when it comes to online marketing is thinking they have to provide "the top 3 tips" or another "how to". The question is: how many other blogs are there in your niche vying for attention? How are you standing out? It’s a noisy space out there, you know.
Let’s look at an example.
“Why is storytelling important" is what I’m writing about.
A quick search of Google tells me there are 30,500,000 results for that keyword.
The top spots are taken by the likes of Quora and BBC.
Even if I drill it down to “why is storytelling important in marketing” I still get 2,900,000 results and I’m competing with Forbes, Fast Company and Quora.
I can’t just write any ol’ material on this topic. Just like you. Think about your industry for a minute. What are the logical blog posts you could be writing about?
Accountants - filing your tax return
Business coach - how to attract new clients
Divorce coach - how to survive a divorce
Makeup artist - how to achieve a natural look for your wedding day
The list goes on...
How many others are writing on these topics? You can have the most amazing information to share, but this information is now too readily available everyone else too.
More importantly, you haven’t made an emotional connection with them that’s relevant to their life right now. You achieve that through telling a story. And you need to make that emotional connection at every point in your pathway - from Facebook and blog posts, to emails sequences and sales pages. It’s what I call the client pathway or soulful sales funnel. You want them to move through lured by this storytelling.
Like when you open up Facebook to check something and 30 minutes later you’re watching a cat video and wondering “how did that happen?”.
Another point was...
Processing and retaining important information
As you’ve heard before, we’ve been telling stories since caveman times, around campfires, in song etc. We can give them all the info in the world, but it will go in one ear and out the other.
A fact wrapped in a story is 22 times more memorable than a pronouncement of a fact,
according to cognitive psychologist Jonah Butler.
BUT when they can relate to that story, you take it a step further by allowing them to imagine themselves using your fitness equipment or, even better, experiencing what it feels like to have a six pack that's rippling and glistening with sweat. The process of visualising it is powerful.
Because the brain can’t tell the difference between reading a story of something and actually experiencing it themselves
according to Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychology professor.
To enhance that we use the 5 senses:
- taste and
so the brain is activating the same regions it would use to experience those things first hand.
A great example of that is Isha, who I met in December. Isha is a business relationship coach and she came to me with a goal to attract 30 people to a new event in February, had no Facebook page, no email marketing list and described herself as a Gumbi at social media. I may have gone a whiter shade of pale at the thought of that initially.
But through sharing her story of coming from Zimbabwe, where if businesses didn’t pull together and support each other they simply didn’t survive amid the political landscape there, she was able to illustrate the catalyst for her starting this new event.
It put you in the picture of what it’s like to be part of a group of like-minded, supportive women. You could sense what it would feel like to be in that room. It resulted in a highly engaged Facebook page and 83 people at her inaugural event.
It was because of the stories she shared, particularly that ”why” story.
Talk about the power of story!!
Simon Sinek said:
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.Click To Tweet
Your story doesn’t have to change the world, it just has to change the life of at least one person to matter.
As you’ve just seen from that example, the story doesn’t need to be your story to share it either.
Inside The Online Marketing Mastermind, I use the Selling Soulfully Storytelling Map to uncover stories like this hidden within you that perfectly attract the right people to you and persuade them to take action - without the need to push people.
The Storytelling Map is responsible for many business owners moving from lacklustre sales to consistent revenue.
Like a new client who is a real estate agent. After we went through the Storytelling Map she was surprised at just how many stories she had and how powerful those stories were.
"You pulled out stories I didn't even know I even had to help people fully understand what it is I do, why I do it and how I can help them," she said.
She's now even more motivated in the marketing activities we're working on for her client pathways.
The same can be said of business coach Jody, who confessed her frustration with blogging - or more her ability to be able to write content.
Once we delved into the Storytelling Map she uncovered stories that are exciting her to share, because she can see the real result this will provide her - and she's enjoying the writing process again.
So one of the last points I want to share from that list is how do we
Sell in a soulful way – without any of the ick!
When asked what you sell, many of you may answer right now with the object, service or program you’re selling. But it’s deeper than that.
Take Apple’s Steve Jobs, for example. He did not sell computers. He sold "tools to unleash human potential".
What is it YOU really sell?
The next step is to look at storytelling as a two-way conversion. Think of marketing like a networking event. Rarely do you walk into a room, approach the nearest group, and start telling people who you are and how great you are. For those of us in the circle, our response is usually to shrink away. That approach repels us. Instead, we walk up to the group, we listen, we then add value to the conversation and before you know it people start asking questions of you - and eventually “so, what do you do?”. You’re now starting to build credibility and trust.
And rather than answer that through using your elevator pitch, you can then answer through storytelling:
“You know when you’re feel overwhelmed by all the marketing you have to do and you’re wondering whether you’re getting any return for all the effort you’re putting into Facebook? Well, I help businesses use online marketing and social media to ...”
“I was a journalist for 16 years and while I was on maternity leave, blogging about being a mum, I caught the attention of businesses who wanted me to do their PR for them. The next thing I had a PR agency. But I soon found myself overwhelmed and burnt out from all the online marketing tasks I had to do and couldn’t see the return from all this social media effort. So I started creating a system on social media that….”
...you get the picture….
THAT is a far more soulful way to sell. And usually elicits a conversation about their experience with social media OR starting their own business.
So there you have it - why storytelling is important in your marketing and business.
How are you using storytelling?
If you’d like to go deeper into using storytelling in your marketing to attract, nurture and convert more of your most aligned clients, then I’d love to invite you into The Online Marketing Mastermind starting February 2018. This is your chance to step up your marketing with a holistic approach that creates consistency in leads and sales. Please note: There are only 3-4 spaces allocated for the mastermind.
Want to dive into THREE personal stories you can start creating right now?
Watch the video:
Then move onto part 2 in the storytelling series on 5 business storytelling examples that moved people to action.