“She couldn’t believe it. It was as if she’d been living in a world of black and white that had just turned Technicolor. Why ever had she not realized this before? The writer’s block… The struggle to be understood, to connect… All at once there was clarity… The answer, she found, was all in the storytelling…”
Did the last paragraph get you hooked? I hope so. Because most experts would agree that one of the most powerful tools in your sales and marketing arsenal is knowing how to tell a good story.
Fact is, people can smell a sales pitch from a mile away.
But cloak your concept in the dramatic folds of a story and you can bypass their BS detector, implanting your desired action and swooping under the radar directly towards your goal.
Why is storytelling so powerful?
Stories are an incredibly powerful way to communicate with your audience.
They resonate meaning and transmit ideas, values and inspiration. They make the complex simple, and make things real in a way that cold, hard facts can’t.
Studies show that subjects remember up to 70% of information delivered through narrative anecdotes compared to recollecting only 10% of data presented statistically.
It’s because, for generations – even before we could write – we used storytelling to transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. As humans, we are hardwired for story and metaphor. It’s how we make sense of the world.
Stories draw on the imagination and stir emotions. In their resolution, they inspire us to new understanding and can indirectly show us that taking action is the right thing to do.
Great stories provoke action
To see great storytelling in action, consider the speeches of thought leaders such as Steve Jobs or Simon Sinek.
In Steve Jobs’ 2005 address to Stanford University’s graduating class, he used 3 stories from his life to form his entire 18-minute speech. With skill and integrity, he weaved them all to support his core message, which was about connecting the dots to find your passion and then living it each day. This speech has over 15 million YouTube hits.
Simon Sinek talks of Steve Jobs and the story of Apple, along with that of The Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King to illustrate his Ted speech of 2009 ‘How great leaders inspire action’. Watch Sinek’s speech for an explanation of how the part of the brain that controls decision-making deals with emotion rather than logic.
People buy on emotion then justify with logic
So the point to remember is that audiences are drawn to feelings not facts of figures. They buy on emotion. And as I’ve discussed in a previous post, tap into their key motivators and you will have a direct line to the decision-making part of your prospect’s brain.
Fact not fiction
Let’s be clear, I’m not suggesting you pluck a made-up story from thin air. What works best is a story rooted in fact that resonates with authenticity.
Think about a using case study of an existing customer as a way to springboard into a story that illustrates the problems of your audience. Show you understand their problems and introduce your solution.
Find your happy ever after
Recognising what your customer needs emotionally rather than functionally is the key. Focus on the emotional benefits rather than the features and you’ll win their favour, loyalty and custom.
People don’t like sales pitches but they do love stories.