4 Ways Storytelling Makes You a Better Marketer

by Mar 17, 2015Blog, Content | Social Media | Email, Marketing

Editor’s Note, February 2020: Don’t let the age of this post discourage you – these storytelling tips still reign true today. Some information has been added or updated and is bolded/italicized below.

It seems like every marketer wants to call themselves a storytelling aficionado these days, and this is still true in 2020. The phrase gets overused and misused, but all good marketing is storytellingEmphasis on the good. It’s about leading customers down a path that artfully communicates the benefits of your good or service until they reach the only possible conclusion: they must buy from you. Now.

Here’s how effective storytelling can help you sell more:

1. It helps you understand your customers.

Imagine you’re going to tell the story of Cinderella. If you were telling it to a child, you might focus on the beautiful dress, or the talking mice or how handsome the prince was. You might make your eyes big and your voice hushed. Now imagine you’re telling the same basic story to a friend over a drink. You might mockingly roll your eyes at the deus ex machina of a fairy godmother or scold Cinderella for not holding onto her footwear. Good storytelling means knowing your audience, and good marketing means the same thing.

Even if you sell just one product, you sell it to different people with subtly different needs. By thinking about that audience and the best way to break through to them, you’ll have more targeted and more effective communications.

2. It helps you understand rhythm and pacing.

Most sales aren’t made with one single piece of communication. I wish they were; our jobs would be a lot easier if we could just find that magic bullet. But in most cases, it takes a series of purposeful touches that build one on the other until the customer reaches the breaking point and gives you their money already. And that progression is storytelling.

Your marketing should have a beginning, middle, and end just like a story. There should be the initial touches, like the exposition in a story where they get to know you – and you get to know them. There should be the rising action, where you’re piling on more benefits, sharing more customer success stories, building your case over and over again. And then finally your conclusion, the kicker, that thing that nudges people to buy now. Maybe that’s a limited-time offer or a discount or just a simple “hey, are you ready?” Whatever it is, that final nudge only works because you effectively told a story before that. Here at Roundpeg, we’ve thrown in limited-time offers for the Digital Toolbox which is our marketing toolbox for business owners. However, discounts aren’t the only way to reach audiences, they’re just convenient! 

3. It helps you create an emotional connection.

I know what you’re thinking: “I sell parts for industrial widgets! I don’t need to create an emotional connection.”

You’re just so wrong.

Every sale is about an emotional connection. That emotional connection might be “this will make your life easier.” That’s an emotion. Or it might be something touchy-feely, like “this will protect your kids,” or “this will help you make memories.” Whatever it is, storytelling helps you convey that in a way that a bald list of bulleted benefits never can. By using customer testimonials and illustrative language and video and all kinds of other storytelling techniques, you’ve created a bond and an urgency that customers can’t ignore.

4. It helps you on social media.

If you’re hanging out at the Roundpeg blog, you probably think that content marketing and social media is at least a little important. And every tweet and every Facebook message and every blog post is a story. An invitation to go deeper and learn more. Yes, you can tell a whole story in 140 characters – but more importantly, it can draw people in and get them to follow you, click your link, learn more about you and eventually buy your product. Heck, that’s probably how you ended up here, isn’t it? So you’re living proof this stuff works. High five.

In recent years, transmedia storytelling has been all the rage. It’s the most unknown, yet most known, method of storytelling. Transmedia storytelling is the practice of designing, sharing, and participating in a cohesive story experience across multiple traditional and digital delivery platforms. This technique is great for connecting consumers through different formats. It provides a new way of offering valuable content where the user assumes an active role and interacts with the story itself.

So by now, you’re saying, great. I’m sold. Storytelling hurray. But how do you learn to be an awesome storyteller? Friend, let me help. Alexandra Rufatto-Perry was a guest on More than a Few Words not too long ago and in her episode, she explains that storytelling is an important business strategy. Everyone has a story to tell! Listen to the full episode below.

So, go ahead. Find your story. Then use it to build a better business.