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.
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But you’ll also find many misperceptions of storytelling — BS facts that almost everybody believes.
BS Fact #1: You should tell your story even when you don’t have a story to tell about this particular topic.
In particular, About Pages seem to be turning into display cases for stories that didn’t need to be told.
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…”
At this point, the founder’s story has become irrelevant. Lots of websites offer the resources that were missing ten years ago.
Can he still tell a story? Sure, if he’s down and determined. Why not tell us how he manages to find all those wonderful tips he uses? How does he choose his formats to present his valuable material – podcasts, blog posts, or even infographics?
Even worse, we’re getting the tried and true rags to riches story, usually associated with (a) sleeping on a mattress in somebody’s basement, (b) maxing out ten credit cards or (c) not having enough money in the bank to join friends for lunch.
BS Fact #2: Model your marketing stories on movies, campfire stories and fairy tales.
If you’re using stories for marketing, leave Cinderella at the movies. She makes a great movie but a lousy marketing story. (I explain this point in my Udemy course.)
One marketing coach was telling an audience about growing her business from “nothing” in the last three years. But three years ago, when our paths first crossed, she was selling info products and enjoying a rather large stash of cash from the sale of her first business.
The truth is, you probably have a truly unique story to share.
For instance, recently I saw a website for a writer 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. How has her upbringing shaped her writing? And how has she shifted perspective since she moved? How has her writing evolved as her life moved west?
If she can uncover her true stories, she’ll get readers wanting to know more. She can use her unusual background to communicate her sensitivity to culture and ultimately her ability to deliver the best results for her clients.
BS Fact #3: Find a way to use stories to make your copy come alive.
Sometimes a story is not the best way to make a point in your copy. However, you may use storytelling to develop the foundation for your copy, even if you express your ideas with bullet points.
You might tell a story about how clients benefit your program. But when it’s time to write the story, 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. Or you just collect a list of benefits by interviewing your best prospects.
So … what do you think?
Are you inspired by rags-to-riches stories or are you hearing them as same-old, same-old? Have you tried to come up with a story because everyone’s doing it? Or do you suspect you’ve got a story buried under the conventional About Page style? Share your experience, thoughts and insights in the comments below.
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And if you’ve been following me, you know I’ve got a course on storytelling for branding — get a 52% discount when you enter the code STORY50.