If you are sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.

Once upon a time, there was a marketer that wanted to make an impact in his industry. Everywhere he looked, his competitors were getting more business and greater exposure even though he believed his product was head and shoulders above theirs.

Despite his blogs, social channels and website, he just couldn’t draw in the same crowds or get them to remember his brand. He was about to give up when he came across a freelance copywriter. She instantly saw where he was going wrong and told him that he needed to forget about his company and focus on his customers.

He laughed. What did she know? He knew what was best for his company because she didn’t know anything about it. But then he looked at his woeful sales performance and took a look at the other companies the writer had helped. Perhaps she did understand.

He took the plunge and hired her to work on his content. She began creating stories that highlighted how his products helped people rather than telling readers about their features as he’d been doing it.

Before long the phone started ringing and wouldn’t stop. People were remembering the stories they’d read and were telling their friends about his company. It wasn’t long before he needed to expand his operation to cope with the extra orders.

Without his freelance copywriter’s help, he would have continued as before and probably gone out of business. Now, because he understands who his customers are and what they want, his company is thriving.

Why storytelling works

In a moment or two, I’ll share an infographic that neatly outlines the power of storytelling in your marketing. But before I do, I would like to look at why it’s such a powerful tool.

Listening to stories is programmed within our DNA. From the moment we are born, our parents read stories to us. We are exposed to them throughout our childhood, which is why we love them so much. It’s how we learn.

A story builds a human connecting through empathy.

  • You are 22 times more likely to remember a story than you are facts and figures
  • 92% of consumers want more stories
  • A story can boost your conversion rate by 30%

It all comes down to our emotional connection with stories. That’s why they build brand recognition, go viral (when done well), and have the power to convert visitors to brand ambassadors.

Stories humanise your brand

The most important thing to remember when creating your story is that you’re not going to be up for the Best Actor Oscar.

The protagonist of your story must be your customer. You’re merely there in a supporting role, providing the tool your customer needs to overcome the challenges that stand in the way of achieving their end goal.

By the way, not all copywriters and marketers are storytellers.

Storytelling is not long-form content (i.e. narrative content), so creating a chronological journey of your brand’s development is not a story.

What makes a good story?

Your story must have structure and conflict.

The first step is to choose a character that your readers can relate to, who the story will revolve around.

The best elements of your story come next. Don’t leave them to last. Show the reader what your protagonist is trying to achieve and what is standing in his way, creating the conflict you need to bring your story to life.

Show them how you helped and what the outcome was. But make sure your story is authentic by keeping it genuine and unique. No one wants to read a rehash of someone else’s story. Remain true to your brand.

Case studies are a great example of storytelling.

Why should you use stories?

Before I show you the infographic I mentioned, remember this – buying decisions are 20% logical and 80% emotional  – so storytelling helps you appeal to the 80%.

Companies that do it well include Microsoft, Nike, Coca-Cola and Tesco (remember Granny’s magic soup?) because they understand that:

  • People connect with stories
  • Stories are universal
  • Stories answer the ‘why’ for customers
  • Stories help make sense of things and put them into context
  • Stories deliver a better word of mouth spread than dry facts
  • Stories survive the test of time (remember the Nescafe sagas? – I’m showing my age!)

Thanks for reading and here’s the infographic I promised you from Atomicreach.

Storytelling infographic