Stories engage and are easy to remember. Public speakers, politicians and marketers have long known the power of story. When it is authentic, relevant and useful a story builds trust and shares values. It can also overcome initial objections to being sold to.
An Internet marketer is talking about ways companies use mobile devices to generate leads online. During the presentation he tells this story:
“My young son wants a new smart phone. My response to his request is: ‘No it is too expensive to purchase a new phone now. ‘
So my son counters with this offer: ‘If I sell my current phone on E-Bay, the cost will be minimal.’ Admiring his ingenuity, I offer to pay half of the remaining cost.”
(Note: This story is four sentences long. Do not ramble. It also includes quotation marks. Quotes often get read even when the reader is scanning.)
Why did I remember this from the presentation? It is a story – with characters, desire, conflict and resolution. Sprinkling stories in your online material can engage your audience and make you memorable.
The About Us page is a place for establishing trust. Here you can tell a story about what motivates you. How and why did the company start? What problems do you solve for your customers? To build trust, include a story about a mistake you’ve made. Show how it was resolved – how you got to be as good as you are. Include something you learned along the way.
For companies cautious about storytelling, try telling the story from a customer point of view. Brad Shorr offers this advice in the Straight North blog: “Make your ideal customer the hero of your story. You want readers to think, “That could be me!” right off the bat. Who is going to walk away from a story they are starring in?”
Generic Copy vs. Story
Here is some generic copy from a foodservice company: “Those we serve come first. We strive to understand their needs in order to continually exceed their expectations.”
On their News page I learn about a program they provide to school districts they contract with “to experience food in a whole new light with just a little spice to get their blood flowing.” The program shows students what fresh ingredients are used in the food. Isn’t this a better way to express how they “exceed expectations”?
Some companies are not very good at telling their own stories. When that’s the case, let someone else tell the story.
- Distribute a press release and let an inquisitive reporter write about it.
- Set up a website and hire a blogger to write about your company or products.
- Start a conversation through social media channels and let fans and followers tell the story.
- Include case studies on the website that share the elements of a good story.
If you don’t have any stories to tell, you are not doing enough as a company. A good content writer can help you find stories through the actions you take.
Stories from the heart can be more powerful than data reports and a list of robust services. Stories build trust, educate and inspire. Don’t be afraid to include obstacles and conflict. These two story elements create champions whether it be you or your customer. After reading a good story, prospects affiliate with the storyteller and often sidestep their initial objections to learning more.
Have you had good response from stories on your website? Do you need a good story for your website?