Is your storytelling moving readers in the direction you want them to go in? Does your audience react in the manner that you had hoped for? If you answered no to these questions, then obviously you need to go back to the basics to improve your delivery of this key component of content marketing.
Baseball players hone their skills. practicing the basics over and over in spring training. Perhaps it is time for you to attend Storytelling Spring Training. It never hurts to invest time in keeping your basics sharp.
Why Rhetoric Fails
There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most executives are trained in. But there are two problems with rhetoric. First, the people you’re talking to have their own set of authorities, statistics, and experiences. While you’re trying to persuade them, they are arguing with you in their heads. Second, if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough because people are not inspired to act by reason alone.
Most executives are trained in pairing a PowerPoint slide presentation in which you say, “Here is your company’s biggest challenge, and this is how our solution can resolve it for you.” Then you support your claim by your case by delivering statistics, facts and quotes from “experts”, customer executives and survey results. The problem with this is that the people listening to your pitch have their own set of authorities, statistics, and beliefs. However, they are arguing with you in their heads while you’re trying to persuade them, Even if you do win them over, will their intellectual decision be enough to motivate them to take action?
Why Storytelling Works
A much more powerful way to persuade people is by telling a compelling story, thus uniting an idea with an emotion. A story arouses your listener’s emotions and energy. To present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable, vital insights need to be combined with dramatic storytelling skills. By harnessing your imagination and the principles of a well-told story, you can win not only their minds but their hearts as well. Intelligence + Emotions = Action.
A good story usually starts out by weaving a tale of how a person, very similar to your prospect, runs into a conflict which upsets the status quo and leaves them in a quandary of how to resolve it. Faced with these opposing forces, the champion must face difficult decisions, take action despite risks, and ultimately discover the solution. Great storytellers must deal with the fundamental conflict between subjective expectation and cruel reality.
The Doctor is In
Psychologists say that the human mind, in an attempt to understand and remember, assembles the jumble of experiences into a story. It begins with a personal desire, or an objective, and then portrays the struggle against the forces that block that desire. The fact is, stories are how we remember; leaving lists and bullet points behind the dust.
What Makes for a Good Story?
Create scenarios of possible future events, in your mind, trying to anticipate the situation at your client’s company and how they affect your own contact’s life. Does the IT Manager miss his children’s sports events or get home late from work every evening due to working overtime dealing with problems? If so, you build that into your story, just as much as how your solution deals with the headaches created by the failing of their present system.
Case studies are excellent resources for creating storylines, as the conflict is already detailed. Build a story around similar pain points they faced and how your firm came to their rescue to save the day. It’s even more compelling when you can offer up that client as a reference to reinforced the points made in the story.
The bottom line is that story ideas are not that difficult to come up with. Put your experience to use by recalling times when your customers have faced adversity and how you came to their rescue with just the right solution. Detail the headaches and pain points in detail to make they come alive for the potential customer. Finalize your story with a comparison of the story to their current situation.
Famous Last Words
“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works
The Hank Moody School of Creative Writing
While big businesses, such as Coca-Cola, use storytelling effectively, it’s equally available to all. A small business can win big with storytelling just as easily as a larger business because the cost of entry is merely time.
The Big Kumbaya in CyberSpace
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Thank you for taking time out to read this piece. Your time is greatly appreciated. To hear the rantings of other voices on the same subject:
The Secret of Great Storytelling by Nick Morgan
The Five Common Elements of Good Storytelling by Paul Jarvis