If you’ve ever found yourself on the edge of your seat, frantically biting your nails as you watch a movie, you know the value of a good story. Major movie studios turn stories into box office dollars, but small business owners can use storytelling to increase their sales, too.
“If you can get customers to connect with your stories,” says Quick Sprout, “you’ll be able to boost your sales.”
Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re much of a storyteller, we’ve gathered 7 tips that will help you use storytelling to pad your bottom line.
1. Determine the audience for your story
In order to make storytelling work for you, it’s important to recognize who the story is for and make sure it’s appropriate for that audience.
As Quick Sprout points out, a story you’d tell your poker buddies over a beer during poker night probably isn’t something you’d tell your in-laws during Thanksgiving dinner. To be safe, make your stories suitable for all ages.
Another thing you’ll want to consider is what channels you’ll use to distribute your story. If you’re posting it on social media, for example, your audience may vary depending on the platform.
2. Make sure your story has a goal
No matter how good your story is, or how accomplished you are at telling it, it means nothing without a goal.
“The story has to be actionable,” says Quick Sprout,” That’s the only way you’re going to get customers to convert and increase your sales.”
“And do you know what is the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message? It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story. Storytelling . . . good storytelling . . . is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”
In order to compete with Pampers, the Canadian arm of the Huggies brand knew they needed to provide a good reason for mothers to choose them prior to arriving at the hospital to give birth.
So they launched a hugging campaign based on over 600 studies that proved hugs stabilize babies’ vital signs, build immune systems, ward off illness, and improve brain development. The brand set out to educate mothers on the importance of skin-to-skin contact with their babies, along with ensuring that Canadian hospitals had volunteer ‘huggers’ available for babies in need of hugs.
The result of their emotionally-charged, philanthropically-focused campaign was a 30% increase in sales, as well as an engagement rate 300% higher than industry norms.
3. Make Your Story Emotional
“Emotions are a powerful way to drive sales,” remarks Quick Sprout.
Refer back to the example of the Huggies “baby hugging” campaign. What pregnant woman wouldn’t be emotionally affected by that? And what brand of diapers do you think was top of mind as they considered which diapers to purchase for their unborn child?
It’s a story that can generate all kinds of emotions within a reader. At first, people may feel sadness for babies that go without hugs. But then they can also feel joy because something is being done to help these babies.
This emotional roller coaster can compel customers to make a purchase, believing that they can contribute to the cause.
4. Tell a story your readers can relate to
“People connect better with stories and ideas that speak directly to them,” says Quick Sprout.
“The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” — Mary Catherine Bateson
Tony Robbins, an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and business strategist, tells stories of triumph that his readers can relate to. He explains that at one point in his life, he had only $20 to his name. That’s certainly something most people can relate to because they are impacted by financial struggles every day.
Having been in that very position, Tony assures people that there’s a way out. You can find out how Tony did it by purchasing his books. By telling a story you can relate to, Tony is hoping you’ll attend his self-help seminars and buy his books, which are designed to help people take control of their lives and gain financial freedom.
5. Start a blog to share your stories
Now that you know what’s involved in telling a great story, you need to find a place to share them, and a blog is the most logical place to do that.
Not only is a blog a great way to get more traffic to your website, but it also provides you with a means of increasing engagement with your customers. As customers read your stories, they’ll feel a personal connection with you—a connection that can entice them to make a purchase because they feel they know you, unlike giving money to a faceless, nameless brand.
Your story should have a catchy title that will grab the reader’s attention. Arrange the content into scannable pieces. Shorter paragraphs are easier to read and digest. Use subheadings, lists, quotes, and images throughout your story to make it more engaging. And remember, your story should have a purpose—what action do you want your readers to take?
Don’t forget to promote your blog posts on other marketing channels, like social media, and send them to the subscribers on your email list.
6. Make videos to get your stories out there
Not everyone likes—or wants—to read. In fact, more than 4X as many customers prefer watching a video about products over reading about them. Plus, they retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to only 10% absorption when reading the same content in text form.
“If you don’t have a YouTube channel, you need to make one right away.” — Quick Sprout
Whether you use a webcam, your tablet, or even your smartphone, you can create good quality videos without investing in expensive studio-made ones.
The important thing is to get started! If you don’t know how to go about creating your first video, consider using a story from your blog and talk about it in a video. This way you won’t have to come up with a fresh topic right off the bat.
7. Provide a way for customers to share their stories with each other
“While your story may be great, customers may not find it to be a reliable source,” says Quick Sprout. After all, you’re running a business, and people realize that what you tell them will have some sort of bias toward your brand.
Research shows that 84% of consumers trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising. That’s why it’s important to let customers share their stories on your website through reviews, testimonials, and discussion boards.
In the screenshot below, you can see how Lululemon leverages user-generated content on their website:
Consider how you can use a similar approach on your website to encourage readers to submit comments, photos, and other user-generated content that will help increase your credibility and bring your brand’s vision into perspective.
“User-generated content is one of the most powerful tools in today’s marketing arsenal. It’s proof that you have dedicated fans, products worth talking about, and a social network that will appreciate great content.” — Hootsuite
“Facts tell, but stories sell,” said Gina Balrin, founder of Verballistics. This fact is well established in sales and marketing. After all, no one wants to be sold to.
But if you can tell an engaging story that people can relate to, and that makes them take action, you will notice an improvement in your sales performance.
If you use the 7 tips above to make storytelling part of your sales and marketing efforts going forward from here, you’ll develop more meaningful customer relationships and generate sustainable revenue growth.
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