Part II of MarketCopywriterBlog’s three-part series on storytelling.
Storytelling is getting a lot of buzz in marketing circles lately. Understandably. Story has always been a powerful communications tool. Whether gathered around a cave campfire or curled up with an iPad, human beings have always been mesmerized by structured narrative.
But storytelling isn’t limited to epics, plays and novels. As a marketer or copywriter you can use storytelling in your work to capture attention, hold interest, show product value and move people to action.
Marketers can—and should—study classic narrative arc to better understand story structure. But you can also learn about storytelling closer to home—from salespeople. Successful salesmen and saleswomen are some of the best, most authentic storytellers around.
Storytelling: What it is and what it ain’t.
Now that storytelling is trending in the blogosphere, everyone wants a piece of it. But some bloggers and branders take liberties, using the term as a catchall: Throw in a little emotion, string together some images, concepts or biographical events—and call it a brand story.
But it’s not. Your dentist, for instance, can recount his life events with emotion. But that doesn’t make his recollection a story. And it doesn’t make you want to buy his root canal services.
Your brand story: Make it a good one.
When you use narrative structure and storytelling elements in your marketing it’s not just about telling a story. It’s about telling a good story. Telling the right story. Choosing the story that suits your audience.
Good salespeople do this naturally.
Salespeople understand human motivations.
When I say “good salespeople” I mean just that: Good people who happen to sell stuff for a living. Like you and me.
Not sleazy snake-oil vendors, pushy barkers or con men hustling you to buy regardless of your need or desire for their product.
Good salespeople don’t manipulate you into buying things you don’t want or can’t afford. Ethical salespeople sell useful goods and services. They try to win your trust so they can share information that’s crucial to you.
And they do it with stories. Stories with warmth, humor and humanity. Successful salespeople’s stories are rarely about products. They’re about you. The stories speak to your experience, your frustrations and your challenges. To your aspirations, your secret hopes and your dreams.
7 storytelling takeaways from top salespeople
Why is story so central to the sales process? Experienced salespeople will tell you that stories sow the seeds of trust and relationship. Stories help you:
- Grab and hold people’s attention
- Disarm listeners who don’t like pushy, feature-focused sales spiels
- Relax your audience and release sales-averse tensions
- Leave people in a state of well-being and receptivity
- Introduce your product—or service or organization—in a non-threatening way
- Keep you top-of-mind: People remember up to 70% of information they learn through a story, compared to 10% relayed through statistics
- Enhance the value of your offering: Customers readily pay more for a product or service that comes with a good story.
So what’s the difference between the Odyssey and your iPhone app?
Though classic storytelling and brand narrative share many similarities, they’re not exactly alike. Traditional epics deliver catharsis passively: We recline in a chair to read, nestle into a theater seat or zone out in front of the TV.
Brand stories also offer catharsis. But they require us to take action. Our conflicts aren’t resolved by watching the hero battle dragons. We overcome our challenges by rising to the occasion, moving forward—and responding to a call-to-action.
How will you take action—and start using story in your marketing?
Like to learn how to use storytelling in your marketing and copywriting? Eager to apply story elements in your web content, collateral and print copy? Come back next week for the final post in my storytelling series.