Stories, I’m told I have to tell ‘em, but how exactly do they help my business?

Written by Ben Skelton

It’s simple. Good stories aren’t told, they are retold, and retold, and retold. That’s what we want for our business, right? People to hear what we’re offering in our business and to connect and share that story with everyone they know. 

Stories are powerful things. They are conscious and subconscious. We hear them, see them and make them up in our heads. Stories keep the history of ancient civilizations alive and convinced enough Americans that Donald Trump would be a good president. 

As much as we take for granted the impact stories have on our lives, their impact on how we live is undeniable. At a very fundamental level, it is how we connect and synthesise the world around us.

So why is this important for business owners to understand how to tell a killer story? After all, we are business owners, not J.K Rowling.

Well, great stories connect people and if you can connect with people you win. Because connecting with people is what makes sales.

Sounds simple, but unfortunately most businesses struggle with telling a great story about their product/service/offering and more often than not it holds their business back. 

As much as storytelling is so inherently important to functioning human beings, it’s also alarmingly neglected by a lot of businesses. Most of which struggle to ever really connect with their ideal customers.

Hands up, who hates sitting next to the person at a dinner, event, family gathering, etc, who spends the entire time talking about themselves? I will hazard a guess that you do. 

Without knowing it. Most underachieving businesses that have a decent product, service, talent, skill or offering are this person. If you stay the person in the room that no one really wants to sit next to, you’ll either be sitting alone or sat with the other people no one wants to sit next to. This can lead to being the guy who just shouts randomly at strangers… but I digress. 

I can imagine that the thought of being that person might be quite visceral to most of you. The fact is no one wants that person and it will come at the expense of your business’s potential success.

The remedy: tell a great story.

But first, it’s important to know what makes up the elements of a good story.

In a nutshell, it generally goes like this:

You start with a hero. The hero encounters an obstacle or problem. The hero meets a guide. The guide gives the hero a roadmap to success and sends them on their journey. The hero’s journey ends in success and most importantly does not end in failure.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Luke Skywalker is stuck on Tatooine, forbidden to join the rebellion by his aunt and uncle. He meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who shows him the ways of the force. He joins the rebellion and blows up the Death Star defeating the empire. Storytelling 101 that you can do with pretty much any of your favourite stories.

So that’s the basic formula, how can it be used in business?

Well firstly, to avoid our initial problem of being the person no one wants to sit next to,

Make your customer the hero. 

If you don’t it’s game over! 

Talk about yourself, your product and how great you are and you will be the guy/girl in the room that no one wants to sit next to. To capture people’s attention make them the centre of the universe, make them the hero of your story and you will be the person everyone wants to hear from. Deep down we all love when someone cares about us, even if they are pretending.

Every hero has problems and so do your customers. So speak to them about them, it’s how you will connect and engage. EVERYBODY secretly wants to talk about their problems. Create content, sales messages and emails that make them aware that you know their problems and feel their pain (whether they know they have these problems or not). If you don’t know your hero character’s problems well enough I suggest you learn them quick smart. It’s a big reason large companies spend $$$ on data. (Lastly, and just a small piece of advice, if you’re products don’t truly solve your customer’s problems, then redesign them so they do).

Make yourself the guide.

You’re now the one that can solve the problems you know your hero has. It’s a simple yet effective way to position your business. Now you’re in the perfect position to offer your solution to their problem, makes sense right? As the guide, you can alleviate fear, build trust, elevate your hero’s status, etc. If you make yourself the hero, you can’t, simple as that. 

Give them a game-plan so they have the confidence to overcome their issues. Once you have set up the story you can give them a plan of action. It can be as simple as showing them the steps they need to take to overcome their problems. This can be as straight forward as a buy now button or as complex as an action plan for their success. This is also a great place to find inspiration for content. Starting giving your potential customers a gameplan for success before they have even bought from you.

Lastly, you need to give them a vision

of what life will look like once your hero has done business with you. Painting the contrast between continuing living with the problem/s they are facing and how amazing life will be without them. Constructing a vision for your customers about how their life looks before and after dealing with your business is the key to a great story.

If you want your business to connect with more people, then live and breath storytelling in every piece of communication your business does. Making your customer the hero, focusing on their problems and showing them the path to success is the key to connecting and selling to more people with your communications.

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