Storytelling is a fun topic and frankly, it’s “hot” right now. Everyone’s advising you to tell stories. In fact, I suspect that anyone who gets stuck writing a 10-point list article will be tempted to throw in “Tell a story!” for item #7. It works for any topic.
But you’ll also find many misperceptions of storytelling — nonsense facts that almost everybody believes.
Myth #1: You should tell your story even when you don’t have a story to tell about this particular topic.
For instance, one company offers a really valuable online service, with free tutorials and updates on a critical topic.
So who knows what possessed the founder to come up with a story for his About Page, which basically was, “When we started, we didn’t have the resources we needed. So I created them. And now, ten years later…”
Who cares? His clients don’t care how he got those resources. They’ve got a bigger problem. Their question is, “All this sounds good…but will it work for me? Is he the real deal?”
Why not tell us how his business has grown by following his own tips? Why not share a few client success stories?
Even better…he’s got wonderful material for a handful of case studies…a natural when you’re improving people’s businesses and lives.
Myth #2: Model your marketing stories on movies, campfire stories and fairy tales.
One marketing coach was telling an audience about growing her business from “nothing” in the last three years. She tried to present herself as a contemporary Cinderella. All she needed was a godmother.
The problem was, a lot of those stories just aren’t believable for two reasons:
First, your audience can’t picture themselves in the scene. They haven’t seen any fairy godmothers lately so they have trouble believing you had one…let alone that you are one.
Second, prospects read your story in a context. They’ve probably gone through a dozen rags-to-riches stories in this morning’s email. You can’t control the context, but you can control expectations.
When I work with clients, we find stories that deliver tons of credibility, leading to sales.
For instance, recently I saw a website for a copywriter who wanted to grow her business. Her About Page casually mentioned that she was born and bred in a very southern state in the US, but now lives in a western state that’s known for cowboys, ranches and wide-open spaces.
This writer has been sitting on a story goldmine! The southern US has a complex history, and has also produced iconic writers like William Faulkner. The western US also has a complex history, complete with a whole different set of values. The play and movie Oklahoma! had to be based in the west – it couldn’t happen any other way.
This writer could spin a story that would answer a client’s question: “Will you be sensitive to my values when you create content for me? Are you comfortable working with different viewpoints? How has your writing style evolved as you moved … and how does that affect your service delivery?
Now she’s got a story that further adds to her credibility. She’s unique and creative, in a meaningful way.
Myth #3: Find a way to use stories in all your marketing content.
Sometimes a story is not the best way to make a point in your copy.
You might tell a story about how clients benefit from your program. But at the point of sale, your prospects might be looking for a simple, straightforward list of benefits.
In that case, you convert your story to a set of strong, conversational bullet points. You might have a table of facts and figures.
When someone asks a direct question, they want direct answers. Respond with, “I’ve got a story about that,” and they no longer trust you.
The truth is…stories can be deal makers or deal breakers.
Tell the wrong story and your audience stops listening. They utter 4-word deal-killing sentence: “I don’t believe you.”
Tell the right story – especially a well written case study – and you might seal the deal on the spot.
FREE: Download 17 ways to use stories to make your marketing more effective. Download your free report here.
Check out this course on building credibility with your content. – Content for Credibility.