Tap Into the Power of Your Story


I was reading a wonderful case study from Mark Schaefer‘s {grow} blog about storytelling and it got my wheels turning today (before you go any further, go over and read that post. Really. It’s far better than anything I’ll be writing. Then you can come back…!)

We rightly want to come up with a punchy and memorable marketing message. But there is no doubt that something just as powerful, or even more so, is at work making us stand out in the minds of our audience.

That magic something is our story (as an individual or company). And, especially, the story of how we evolved to be doing what we’re offering now.

I think of my friend Tom Clifford (known affectionately as Director Tom), who is a superb marketing copywriter. But he wasn’t always so – he actually spent many years as a video director (and he still wears the beret to prove it!).

How does that story help him differentiate? Here’s how he spins it on his website:

Before I became a copywriter, I spent more than 25 years in the professional service industry as an award-winning documentary director/filmmaker and a consultant.
From CEOs to frontline employees, I interviewed more than 1,500 content experts for companies ranging from Fortune 500 firms to local businesses.
That means you’re working with someone who has learned in the trenches how to capture marketing messages that resonate with an audience.

Marketing copywriters are a dime a dozen. Why Tom Clifford? Well, it’s his interviewing skills (as a director) that set him apart as a marketing copywriter. He gets into the mind and heart of his subject, and pulls out the messages. That’s his story – which also happens to be about how he can help tell your story.

hard-wiredWhy did Susan Cain‘s TED talk about being an introvert take off so strongly? The power of story. You feel it in the first 30 seconds.

Why is Kerri Sparling such a popular and influential healthcare blogger (especially among people with diabetes)? It’s her story, growing up dealing with a pancreas in revolt (Type 1 diabetes). And it’s her ongoing story, as she shares vignettes day after day, year after year, on her blog SixUntilMe. People connect with Kerri, because she’s an honest, funny, and very human storyteller.

The examples could be multiplied to include plenty of corporate storytelling examples, such as those tear-jerking Budweiser Super Bowl commercials (mini-stories), or the famous story about how eBay got started. But the point is this: don’t just spew facts, features, and benefits. Wrap it all up in a story. We’re hard-wired to remember those.

In a blog post entitled This Will Be The Top Business Skill of the Next Five Years, Shane Snow writes, “Fact is, no one cares about your marketing goals. But everyone likes a good story. The businesses that can tell one will have increasing advantage.”

So, tell stories in your sales presentations. People will have a hard time retaining all the bullet points. But a great story? That’s what gets you a rare spot in the memory banks of your audience.


Related blog post: A Customer Service Story with a Gaping Void in the Middle of it.

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