A Good Storyteller Makes For One Hell of a Marketer

How Well Do You Tell Stories?

 

We all know the guy (or girl). The one that, when you’re hanging out with all of your friends, tells the best stories. Stories that make you laugh, make you think, keep you wanting more…stories that you’ll always remember, and share with others.

I’ve got this friend, Chris, and he’s the best storyteller I know. He’s descriptive, animated, and so incredibly charismatic that he draws crowds while captivating us with his tales. He takes simple things, such as taking a walk through the park, and turns them into gripping adventures. In fact, every time I see him, I ask if he’s got any more stories to tell, because I can’t wait to not only hear them, but to tell my wife, my other friends, and anyone else, really.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, storytelling is the best from of marketing. If you’re a great storyteller, people will look forward to hearing your company’s stories, and they’ll share them with everyone else. The best part about that is that social media allows that to happen, and encourages people to do so, instantly.

 

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The most common question I get from my clients is: “Why aren’t people following us on social media?” The answer is easy, but always difficult to say out loud… your stories are bad.

 

What Makes a Bad Storyteller?

 

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: “I’d rather know what makes a good storyteller.” Sure, I get that, and we’ll get there. I promise. But it’s important to know what you’re doing wrong before you can get better.

So, I told you a little bit about Chris. Now it’s time to tell you about my friend Jeremy… the bad storyteller. This guy is the equivalent of that monotone school teacher that could replace a triple dose of melatonin. You know the one. Jeremy cannot tell a story without explaining every detail, in full detail, then going back to review those details before getting to the point.

In fact, you could probably count the amount of points he’s made, during his entire lifetime, on one hand. Mostly because no one was able to stay awake for them.

This is where so many businesses are going wrong with marketing. Look, I know you love your product/service, and I know that you know everything there is to know about it. However, I guarantee that most of your customers just want to know the basics. If you’re selling a house, you’re not going to tell potential buyers what type of wood was used in the framing.

No, you’ll tell them how awesome their first camp out will be in the backyard… crackling fire, a light breeze, and slightly overcooked marshmallows.

 

Wait, What if the Product/Service is Boring?

 

I’ve been there… many times. Heck, early in my career, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I actually considered telling a few clients, “I just can’t do anything for you.”

Good thing I never started those conversations; I’d be looking for work in a different field for sure. Good products do not always have to be exciting to be marketable. Stories can still be told, and told well.

Worksite Medical® is an occupational medicine company in a small town that sells medical surveillance services to businesses. This is where you say, “huh?”

When I was hired to create the marketing division of the business, the CEO flat out told me, “if you can market in this business, then you can market anything.” Challenge accepted. So, I hired a couple of freelance bloggers, then we all started blogging… about OSHA regulations. Yikes.

Initially, no one read the blogs. At all. Sometimes, I would write one, and tearfully yawn while proofreading. Obviously the subject-matter was boring, but if you tell a boring story about boring subject matter, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. I needed something to get people to read. Then, I had my “aha!” moment… create a mascot!

OSHA inspectors were thought of as cantankerous men with nothing better to do than to scowl, yell, and serve citations. So, I drew one of those curmudgeons up, and had someone from my freelance team animate him.

From that point on, if I added the OSHA inspector to a social media post or email blast, the article click/share rates skyrocketed. Once they clicked the articles, people were finally seeing our videos and info-graphics, and we even started getting subscribers!

That’s right, boring things can be marketable. It’s all about how you tell the story.

 

Okay, So What Makes a Great Storyteller?

 

I suppose this is the part for which you’ve been waiting. It’s very straightforward, really.

A great storyteller knows his/her audience, and gives them what they want. The problem that most people have with marketing their businesses is that they’re focusing entirely too much on what they themselves want to hear and see.

 

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I spoke with a former coworker the other day, and he told me that I taught him a lot of about seeing things through the eyes of the customer. You see, he wanted to relay very technical details about a very dry business to customers… he thought we were marketing to people like him.

However, analytics showed that we were actually marketing to an entirely different set of people: Assistants to people like him that were tasked to find companies that provided our services. Those assistants were young, bored easily, and really didn’t know or care much about technical details. I needed to create simple, colorful messages that said “hey, we do this,” which is exactly how marketing helped to grow that business substantially.

If you’re selling speedy pizza to college students, you’re probably not going to tell a story, in full detail, about how the sauce was made. No, you get them the information they want: “This pizza is delicious, and we’ll get it to you in less than 30 minutes.” Alright, it’s not ALWAYS that simple, but my point is that you need to know your audience so you can get to the point.

 

Are You Ready to Tell Your Story?

 

Yes! Of course you are! Just remember to be a Chris, not a Jeremy.

There is no better feeling than the one you get after telling a story that everyone wanted to hear. You’ll feel the same way when you get shares and “likes” on your LinkedIn articles, or when people start telling their friends about the awesomeness that is your business.

Instead of telling a bad story to 1,000 people with Facebook boosting, tell a good story to one or two people, and watch that boost happen organically.

Ryan R Shaffer

Ryan R Shaffer

Contributor

Ryan is a seasoned marketing professional with experience growing businesses in various industries, including real estate, retail, dentistry, and healthcare.

Since I started working with Highlight, I’ve doubled my real estate business, and people are telling me that they’re seeing my name everywhere. Their marketing expertise helped take my career to the next level!

Jeff Ammerman

Real Estate Agent, RE/MAX

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