During my daily commute in London, I must pass hundreds of people.
As I do so, fragments of stories sometimes drift towards me on train platforms and on escalators. I hear snippets of these stories for a few seconds before the stranger and I each go our separate ways.
It’s as if hundreds of doors are being opened ever so slightly before the breeze blows them shut again.
Here’s one that I heard yesterday evening as I was leaving my local train station:
“He used to be a big DJ in the 90s, but now he sells keyrings.”
As I walked home I found myself creating my own story about a once-famous DJ who had fallen on harder times.
Stories are powerful. They add colour to the world and help us to make sense of it.
Your customers and prospects crave stories, too. They increasingly expect engaging storytelling when they land on your website.
Do you want the content you create to resonate with people? If so, you really should tell some stories.
Those who tell the stories rule the world
It’s thought that we developed the ability to tell stories around the same time that we developed the ability to speak.
In his bestselling book, Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari suggests that storytelling was a major reason behind human beings rising to the top of the food chain.
While other animals are able to communicate simply with one another in small groups, Harari explains, our unique language skills enable us to tell stories that huge numbers can believe in and unite behind.
Stories have allowed humans to dominate vast territories. They’ve convinced us to fight for common causes.
A Native American proverb says that “those who tell the stories rule the world.” For good or ill, this has been true throughout history.
But if ruling the world sounds a bit too Napoleon for your liking, how about using storytelling to grow your business instead?
The best brands tell stories
Top brands know that their customers and prospects engage most with stories. After all, stories make people care more.
And these brands also know that this is particularly true of millennials.
It used to be enough for you to share an image of your product and basically say “look how great this is - you should buy it.”
But this approach doesn’t work anymore. Especially not with millennials. They - and increasingly all of us - want to know the story behind the product, too.
In a book called The Storytelling Edge by Shane Snow and Joe Lazauskas (the founders of Contently), the authors talk about people being willing to pay more for products with an interesting story. That could mean paying more for your coffee when you know it has been harvested by families in Ecuador. Or it could mean developing an interest in Shinola watches after reading about the brand bringing jobs back to Detroit.
When there’s a compelling story, we invest more in the product.
Storytelling is so powerful that most CMOs now see it as the future of marketing. Many big brands around the world now have dedicated content departments full of ex-journalists who know a thing or two about telling compelling stories.
How to tell your story
So, hopefully you’re convinced that you should embrace storytelling in your business. But how do you do it?
A good place to start is to get to know your ideal customer. Knowing what matters to them means knowing the kinds of stories that will resonate with them. Sounds simple doesn’t it? But not many brands are actually doing this bit.
It really does pay to do some market research to find out what motivates or worries your ideal customer.
Don’t be afraid to tell your brand’s story on your website, either. Is there a backstory to your brand that makes you particularly well placed to sell the product or service you sell?
If so, tell this story.
While your focus should be on your ideal customer and how you can help them, don’t forget that this person wants to find out something about you, too. People prefer to do business with brands they like and whose story resonates with them. That’s why letting your brand’s unique personality shine through in your content is so important.
You can tell stories across your website and marketing materials. Your blogs and articles should always tell an interesting story. And so should your homepage and “about” page.
Even the case studies on your site should be interesting stories. After all, case studies tend to follow the age-old storytelling format of where someone was, where they wanted to be, and how they got there.
Oh, and one final tip. Remember to listen when you’re commuting to and from work.
Put your phone away for a second and listen to a snippet of the thousands of interesting stories that dance in the air around us every day.
Who knows what kind of inspiration you might find?
I write compelling stories for brands that resonate with their ideal customer.
Find out more about my services, here.