Guest post by Kristina Adams
Storytelling is one of those skills that most people have but that most people underestimate. Because of this, they don’t use it to their full advantage.
Telling stories is how we connect with people. It’s how we form friends – and enemies. It’s also how we acquire customers.
Have you ever bought a product or service over another, similar – maybe even cheaper – product or service and not been sure why? There’s a high chance it’s because of the strength of their storytelling.
Storytelling taps into our emotions faster than any other form of written or verbal communication. It paints an image in our minds; sometimes one that we can’t let go of. This could be a good thing – leading to a purchase – or a bad thing – putting us off a company forever.
Everything from the reviews we consult to the product copy we read has elements of storytelling in, whether the writer knows they’re doing this or not.
But how can you use this to your benefit?
Know your USP
When I sent out a press release to promote my last fiction book, the angle wasn’t that I’d written a book, it was that I’d become a bestselling author while dealing with chronic illnesses. This is my USP, especially when my nonfiction content focuses on productivity. Who better to write about productivity than someone who seldom has the energy to get out of bed?
Your USP may not be about your product.
It might be about you or the reason why you set up your company.
Think not just about what you do: think around it. What makes you more qualified than your competitors? Why should people trust you first and foremost?
Know it’s not all about you
Yes, you’re telling a story, but that doesn’t mean it’s all about you. How does your story relate back to the reader? You’re not writing a novel here, after all.
Your story should focus on your experiences and how they relate to your reader, such as how it inspired you to build your business and what your business can do for them.
Think both short-term and long-term here. What quick wins can you offer them? What will their life look like in a month’s time with you in their life? Six months? A year?
Know your target audience
Different audiences will respond to your story in different ways. Its effectiveness – and how you tell it – will be reflected in your audience.
Different people relate to different stories. What appeals to a single parent will be very different to what appeals to a childless octogenarian, for example.
This is why it’s important to always target one person. The more people you try to target, the more you water down what you try to say and end up saying nothing that’s of any use to anyone.
Not to mention the more people you try to write for, the harder it is to write.
Choose your style wisely
Think about standup comedy. What one person finds funny isn’t the same as what another person finds funny. This applies to both the content of the joke and the way it’s told. There’s a reason British comedians find it hard to succeed in the US. Our style of comedy is vastly different to theirs and doesn’t always appeal – or make sense – to them.
Standup wouldn’t be as funny if it were delivered in a monotone and the punchlines came at the wrong time. Half the fun of comedy is the over enthusiastic delivery and the perfect timing of the comedian. Execution matters.
How you deliver your story is just as important as the story itself. The delivery style you choose will be dictated by whom your target audience is, so ensure that you know who they are before you decide on your style.
Know your expectations
Why are you telling this story? What do you want to achieve?
Audiences will see right through you if you tell a story for the sake of telling a story.
Remember: don’t be overindulgent. If your aim is to get more sales through storytelling and copywriting isn’t your forte, hire a copywriter who can help.
If that’s out of your budget, record yourself discussing your story with a friend. I emphasise a friend and not a coworker for a reason: it will get your voice and tone out more naturally. The more naturally you sound when discussing your product, the more likely your audience will be to connect with what you’re saying.
You can then transcribe what you’ve said and turn it into something that works on paper or screen.
Know you have to experiment
Not every story will get you more customers. Some experiments just don’t work. But if you keep experimenting, you’ll find one that fits. Business is a long term game, and your storytelling skills are no different.
About the writer
Kristina Adams is an author, blogger, and reformed caffeine addict. She’s written five novels poking fun at celebrity culture, two nonfiction books, and too many blog posts to count. She shares advice for writers over on her blog, The Writer’s Cookbook. Her latest book, Writing Myths: Myths and Misconceptions Holding You Back in Your Writing Career is out now!