Have you ever wondered how brands like Apple, Starbucks, and Netflix manage to achieve worldwide recognition and success? The secret lies in their global strategy.
“Those who tell the stories rule the world”, as a popular Native American proverb goes, and it is really hard to disagree with. The most powerful and successful people in the world are often the best storytellers. Some of them are honest, some of them not so honest, but even populists and bold-faced liars can appear trustworthy. What’s the reason for this? Why do people believe in politicians, businesses and salespeople, or even strangers when they have a great story to tell?
It’s because they sound smart, knowledgeable and substantially prepared in what they are saying. You can find inspiration by watching the TEDx Talk presented by Will Stephen. How to tell an interesting story about… nothing? It says it all.
Let’s become a storyteller and rule the world! Although it may take some time and effort to learn, storytelling is definitely one of the most powerful skills in business and, more importantly, in life.
How to start
Everyone has their own life story. Start with yours. Don’t worry if it seems short or boring at first, because after you become a good speaker, every story will sound interesting.
- Prepare a positive backstory of what you want to say. For instance, when I’m talking about my life, I start from scratch and think what was important to me or what I’ve learned during different situations. These bullet points are my punchlines/takeaways.
- Make it funny and emotionally charged. The perfect story contains attractive emotions for the listener. Engage your audience emotionally. For example, if you want to warn them against a situation, try to describe it as scary or disgusting. Make them visualize it.
- Remember about the structure. Every story has its beginning, middle and end. It must be consistent and arranged in chronological order. For example, when you are describing a situation from your childhood, don’t jump from past to present, present to past, or even worst from past to future. Your listeners need to be immersed in your story without thinking about the timeline.
- Keep it universal. Your story should contain something that everyone can identify with. Communicate messages that are simple to understand, but do it in a creative way For instance, in Nopio instead of saying “We are a software house, developing applications in Ruby on Rails and other technologies”, we say that “Our work is to create solid, well-designed, catchy web applications that help our customers become more visible online”. Sounds better, doesn’t it?
- Watch and listen to experienced storytellers. Even if the best lesson is to practice, try to copy positive behaviors and tricks from other people. I truly recommend watching TEDx Talks.
From a sales point of view, storytelling is the most important factor to develop your online business. Seth Godin has said that:
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.
Below you will find 5 TOP ways to incorporate storytelling into your business strategy:
- It’s NOT about you! It’s about your customers. According to Mike Weinberg’s book New Sales. Simplified., your story should lead with the problems and challenges that you can easily solve. BUT it’s your clients who have the pain or a challenge to overcome. You are just helping them understand their problem and making them aware of all the solutions (not just yours!).
- As mentioned earlier, tell your story in a funny and emotionally charged way. Remember to be clever, not cocky! Stories are great instruments for engaging the imagination, so try to make the clients visualize themselves in a comfortable situation after overcoming their challenges and pains.
- Offer your honest advice, not the product itself. Why should anyone buy from you? Because your product is the best and price is the lowest? These times are over… People love to buy from people they like. It’s simple. So be the expert who advises other human beings, even if the solution is not buying from you. “Do good and good will follow”. Include this motto in your story!
- Describe the third party. Customers are more engaged if they can identify with the story and say “Hey! I had the same problem!”. Focus on how you helped other people with their challenges and what value they received from you. For instance, at Nopio we worked with companies who had the great idea to build a web application but didn’t have the technology to do it. That’s why to describe our services, we use a story about how we helped our customers to find the right technological solutions that met their needs.
- Explore and identify the needs of your interlocutor. Keep it relevant! Very often sales stories are just one simple text that doesn’t match the recipient’s expectations. Honestly? Big mistake… First, explore who are you dealing with and what they care about. Then, identify the problem they have and finally present the value in your creative story.
The Power of sales storytelling is simple. Lindsay Thibeault from HubSpot Academy summed it up in one wonderful sentence:
Stories are how audiences remember.
Your customers will definitely remember how you identified and described their challenges, plus how you introduced your solutions. They will also bear in mind your helpful and advisory attitude, NOT forcing them to buy.