To win in marketing you must learn how to become a storyteller.
You might think that stories only have a place in bestselling books or blockbuster movies, but the truth is that stories are an integral part of our lives. They connect people, dreams, businesses, brands, and products. Without the connection stories bring, businesses can not succeed.
People think in stories, and when they are presented with a story that is not well thought out, it can be draining. Why is storytelling essential in the business world and how can you use it to make winning sales? Continue reading to learn the answer to that question!
Why You Need to Add Stories to Your Marketing Strategy
One of the main tenants of stories is that they lead you down a pathway to a happy ending. We are wired to see characters in everything we do and to want to see those characters overcome problems and have a happy resolution. Just like in any hit movie, businesses can use stories to connect with customers and take them through a journey.
When it comes to the products and services you sell, you can’t just broadly market them. You need to make an emotional connection with the customer around their problem and solving it. Without stories, your customers won’t feel invested in what you are telling them.
Did you know that if you don’t grab a customer’s attention within 4 seconds of them visiting your website then they’ll leave? That is such a short amount of time compared to the amount of graphics and copy on most websites. If you can’t make people sit on the edge of their seats, engaged in your marketing, eager to learn more, then all of your work is worthless.
Your business needs to stand out, and you want customers who not only will buy your product now but will remain loyal to you. Thankfully stories exist for this reason. Below are the four parts of a good story you need to include to elevate your marketing and create a customer base who is invested in your company.
4 Integral Parts of Creating a Business Story
The most important part of a story is the main character, or even better the hero! They are who you follow on the journey and who you desperately want to see succeed. In the business world, the character is your ideal customer.
When the character visits your website or sees your digital advertisements, they should see themselves. If you have not done sufficient research into who your customers are then your story will lack crucial information. You need to know who buys your product, what they like, where they live – the more you can learn the better!
- External Problem
The external problem is the pain point that the character is facing. They are experiencing a problem and trying everything they can to find someone who can solve it. External problems aren’t always huge, like not having a business model. They could be small things that only affect a unique groupof people like needing a freelance graphic designer to create a logo.
When presenting the problem in your marketing collateral, it is important to empathize with the reader (prospect). You know what problem the character is facing and the more you can stress that, the more connected they will feel to you. Express that you feel the pain that they are facing and the fact that they are experiencing that pain is just plain wrong.
This is where your business comes into the story. When you have a character who is experiencing a problem, you as a business are the guide. You hear the struggles they are facing and decide to walk alongside them to bring them to a solution. Think of the guide as your brand, for example, and the products your brand makes as the next part of the story: the solution.
The final part of a winning story is the solution. This is where you get to talk about the product or service that you have created to solve your character’s external problem. Even more important, this is what will bring in money for your business!
Make sure that you have validated your solution so that it won’t confuse your customers. As this is the resolution to your story, you want to do everything you can so that they click the ‘buy now’ button!
Benefits of Story in Business Coaching
A guide could also be a business coach who helps the character see their problems more clearly and helps them see their next steps. Coaches take clients through the process of figuring out who they are as the main character, what problem they are facing, and what solutions could help them succeed.
Don’t try to go into the business world alone. You may get to where you want to go, but with a guide, you can see different perspectives and find different solutions that you may never have thought of. Interested in learning more about how coaching can help you? Reach out to us, we would love to talk!
Real-Life Examples of Business Storytelling
If you haven’t seen the Budweiser 2014 Super Bowl “Puppy Love,” then you need to watch it now! It is the perfect example of a brand merging the power of a story with selling a product.
Viewers of the commercial watched a puppy form a friendship with a horse only to have the puppy adopted and leave its new friend. It tore at the viewer’s emotions and presented a problem only to have the two reunited: a beautiful solution. While you might not think that a product was being sold, the brand was being built in your mind and Budweisers profits soared!
Instead of focusing on rental properties, Airbnb chooses to highlight the people who open up their homes for others to stay in. Finding a place to stay on a vacation can be stressful and they know that. When someone visits their website they want to empathize with the problem they are facing, make it easy for them to book a stay, and tell a story through the rental hosts.
By putting experiences, not just the accommodations, front and center for users they can market their services better. You don’t turn to Airbnb because you want the same experiences as a hotel, you want to feel comfortable and at home. Implementing a story is a huge part of making their customers feel connected to this overall mission.
How to Get Started Using Storytelling
Now that you know why storytelling in marketing is important, how do you begin implementing it into your business plan? First, we would recommend meeting with your entire team to talk about who your customers are and where they are coming to you from. Once you have a solid understanding of the struggles that they face, you can craft a story that resonates with them.
Next finalize the character, external problem, guide, and solution. Even if you think you already know these, it can be beneficial to write them down.
Finally, remember to always empathize first, show authority second. You exist to highlight a problem and offer a solution, elevating that narrative by using a story can only add to selling your product or service effectively!