Given the choice to read a sales brochure or a story, you’d go for the story. I’m willing to bet.
Nothing against brochures. They have their place in marketing. (In fact, I write them for clients.)
But stories inform, like no bulleted list of features and benefits ever will.
And stories draw us in. They have, ever since we begged our parents for just one more.
When you tell a story crafted with a dash of suspense and tension – the ending uncertain, the clock about to strike midnight – you hold your audience’s attention.
That’s true when you’re writing a novel. Or telling a bedtime story.
Your business, too, can benefit from storytelling’s magnetic power – through customer case studies or success stories and other content that recounts how your products or services solve customers’ most vexing problems.
Why use storytelling in your business marketing?
- Stories help you connect with potential customers. Like well-crafted fiction, a well-written customer case study draws your intended audience into the story emotionally. They identify with the subject of the story and visualize themselves in a similar spot.
- Stories demonstrate your credibility. They prove that you understand your customers’ world, that you know their challenges.
- Stories further prove that you deliver effective solutions. Here’s your chance to show how you come through for your customers.
- Stories highlight the benefits of your products or services over the features. After all, it’s the benefits that customers care about – what you can do to make their life and business better. Only the most gadget obsessed among us care more about the features. And nothing illustrates benefits better than a story told by a satisfied customer.
- Stories help you clarify your brand message. Good marketing stories help your prospective customers gain a better grasp of the character of your brand and what to expect when they work with you. Stories help you better define your business’s values and the unique experience you provide customers. For instance, if safety and a drive to dig deep for solutions tailored to each customer are what your business is about – as in this example from one of my clients – share that in a story.
- Stories are memorable. As Chip and Dan Heath write in Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, stories stick with us. Bare facts, not so much.
- Stories provide a strong lead-in to your call to action. That is, stories inspire and help prepare potential customers to give you a call.
Well-told marketing stories use a structure similar to that commonly used in fiction.
The opening establishes the context and setting of your story. Next, you introduce the problem, then roll out the challenges that come along on the way to arriving at the resolution – your product or service answering the customer’s problem.
No matter what business you’re in, you have stories to tell. And you have potential customers who need to hear them — to really get to know you.