Looking for a new marketing tool? A powerful but under-used outreach technique, storytelling is a great way to grow and diversify your business.
Since the dawn of time, stories have stirred up emotions, reflected in cave paintings that portray hunts. Today, storytelling lets you build up close connections with target markets, drawing readers into your world. By offering hope, you nudge people towards taking those first crucial steps that will lead to your solutions.
Rather than simply selling your products or services (like everyone else), why not focus on building relationships with customers who are engaged by what you have to say? When you have a story to tell, people listen and relax – so they’re more receptive to your messages.
An effective marketing strategy for any business, storytelling is a multi-purpose tool. It can:
- Create a sense of belonging, so people feel they are part of something bigger than themselves;
- Establish emotional connections so your readers feel you understand their needs;
- Provide information on your products or services in memorable ways;
- Show how you have eased pain points for people like your readers;
- Make people more likely to trust you when seeking solutions to their problems.
Six Steps in Effective Storytelling
Instead of packing your content with dry facts and figures, you can keep your audiences entranced with attention-grabbing stories that reach out to people through their emotions. Here’s a six-step outline for high-conversion marketing stories.
- Pick a main character who resonates with your target readers, sharing their preferences and pain points;
- Choose a relatable setting that everyone recognizes as part of their everyday lives;
- Set the challenge to be surmounted, preferably an issue that’s commonplace in your target market;
- Build up the tension, as your character struggles to cope with a series of hurdles;
- Provide a solution that solves the problem through one of your products or services;
- Spotlight the happy ending, with easy identification that turns readers into buyers.
Setting the Hook
In today’s sound-bite world, you only have a few seconds to grab a reader’s attention. So pique their curiosity and get them on board with the first line of your story.
An unexpected statement, a provoking challenge, or a question that resonates with their reality will draw anyone into your story. With a little imagination and a solid understanding of the preferences, needs, fears, and struggles of your target market, you can craft stories that respond to hidden desires and ignored pain points.
Showing You Care
A brief description of their difficulties offers reassurance that you are concerned with making their lives better, rather than just pumping up profits. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes, showing that you realize how hard they are trying, and show how much you sympathize with their efforts.
This is a great place to slip in some subtle doomsaying: such-and-such might happen if you don’t address this issue promptly. By highlighting the risks of this as-is attitude, you can demonstrate the trade-offs they might have to accept. As you help them analyze the possible consequences of not making the necessary changes, you also demonstrate your concern for their welfare.
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Spotlighting Your Solutions
This is where your story peaks, as the ‘hero’ (you!) rides to the rescue, with realistic reactions to real-life problems. Well-equipped and experienced, you are the ‘knight’ who brings fresh hope, showing them what needs to be done and in what order.
Through this glimpse into an aspirational future, your readers can imagine a world free of pain points and irritants, thanks to your expertise. Once your audience realizes that help is at hand, it’s time for you to get to work: crafting customized responses that pave the way to new opportunities.
By painting clear pictures of how your solutions solve problems in real life, your readers can experience your approach vicariously. They can try on your techniques for size as they read, seeing if they’re a comfortable fit for their own situations.
This strategy builds up trust and confidence, as people can see that you know how to address these issues effectively across a spectrum of real-life situations. Whether it’s a business issue or a personal problem, show them how you can make a tangible difference by spotlighting the daily benefits of your solution.
Calling Readers to Action
No matter how fascinating your story may be, it still needs to steer effective actions by your readers. Once you’ve intrigued them with your setting, engaged them with your characters, and encouraged them with your plotline, it’s time to push each of them towards their own happy endings.
Give them a roadmap, and show them the first steps in their journey toward a better world. Call for a consultation! Sign up for a newsletter! Download a case study! Log into a seminar! Like breadcrumbs leading your readers through a virtual forest, you should scatter contact options throughout your content.
Tailoring Tales to Channels
For the best results, your stories should be tailored to each channel. An Instagram post can recount an entire epic in images rather than words, with short captions conveying the message to your audience. A first-person narrative makes an emotionally effective Facebook post, while a blog can extend into greater detail, with more links.
You are the guide on their journey towards transformation. Through your stories, you show your readers that you understand their problems, and have the expertise needed to steer them towards a better future. Trust is a key factor here, and your stories confirm the value of everything you offer to your target markets.
Takeaway: Storytelling engages your audience at deeper emotional levels, because people forget facts – but they always remember a well-told tale!
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