Hello fellow business owners!
Today I wanted to talk about storytelling because I personally think it’s one of the most crucial pieces that is missing from most businesses marketing. Before I get into why, I’d like to tell you a really short story…
A few years ago at the end of a long journey I was in this tight, little hallway of a hotel in Venice face-to-face with a red-faced hotel employee. I was standing right outside my room with the door partially open, my girlfriend looking on from inside. The hotel employee in front of me had just taken a breath from his Italian/English screaming. He’d already embarrassed himself and me over the last two minutes and was getting ready for more. I was having trouble trying to decide whether I should laugh, nod solemnly or stomp on his immaculate black shoes. Finally, I decided it would be easier to just give him the loaf of bread I was carrying that he kept pointing at. He huffed, shook his head and went on his way. I laughed and vowed to myself that if I ever opened a hotel in Venice, guests WOULD be allowed to eat their own food in their hotel rooms.
Some hotels have strange rules. This one had a rule that you were not allowed to eat in the hotel room. Funny story but it has a point.
Stories are engaging. Storytelling is the way that we as a species communicated for thousands of years and a good story resonates with your audience (potential customers) and draws them in. It gives you a way to instantly connect with them.
If tonight at dinner I was to ask you if you remembered the story of what happened to me at the hotel in Venice and where my idea for a new hotel came from, would you remember it? How about if I asked you next weekend? On the other hand, how many people who visit your website then six of your competitors’ sites and then 100 other websites would remember your site tonight?
I apologise for taking up your valuable brain space with the very short story at the start of this post but if you don’t forget it then the point has been made.
You MUST be using stories in your marketing.
I guarantee your business has a story and it is one of the primary reasons new customers will choose you over a competitor. It is why people who come across you but don’t need you right now will come back to YOU later.
Often, as in the story above (if I were to open a hotel in the future), your unique selling proposition (or USP) may well come out of your story as well.
Do you know the story of how StartLocal started? It’s an ‘interesting’ story but a bit longer than the one above so I’ll tell you another time. For now, let me give you a few quick tips on how to bring storytelling into your marketing so you can get more customers.
Intimidated by writing? Don’t be – just write
Don’t worry about what it says at first, just write down ideas that come to mind. Write in a flow of consciousness. Don’t edit it as you write, just write it down (or type it out). You can edit it tomorrow once you’ve had some time apart from it or have someone else look through it and edit it.
Once you’re happy with it, read it out loud to someone. See how it sounds. Are there any sections that could be improved?
Can’t think of a story?
Why did you start your business? How does your business work? How are your business processes different to other businesses? If you asked your customers, what would they say is the most memorable thing about you or your business? Have you had anything funny happen where you went over and above for a customer? Did any of your customers have something funny happen that you solved for them?
Tone, Plot and Ending
The story doesn’t have to SELL your business. It is designed to engage with potential customers. Maybe they will even tell other people about it if the story is good enough. For it to actually be a story, you need to decide how it’s going to emotionally connect with your audience. Will it be funny? Sad? Triumphant? Your story needs to have a plot and an ending, preferably with a twist that your audience is not expecting.
How did you or your customer CHANGE during the story? What was the point of it?
There are hundreds of different plot types but longer fictional stories often fall under the general plot arc of the ‘Hero’s Journey’, which is more complex but can be used well if you really want something epic.
Where to from here?
There are thousands of great articles about using story in marketing so I’m going to leave off there and give you some resource links underneath you can read for more info.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this email and found it useful.
Remember, if there’s something specific you’d like to hear about in regards to marketing your business then just post a comment below and let me know. I’ll see if we can get it covered for you! If you enjoyed this (or hated it), feel free to let me know as well!
To your success,