How to captivate your audience with storytelling

Nearly every type of business imaginable can benefit from fresh, engaging content. Content marketing is proven and cost-effective.

But let’s be honest, a lot of the content we see and read, is dry and uninspiring. If people aren’t interested in your content, your wasting time, money and effort.

There are plenty of ways to make it more interesting, but the one we’re focusing on is storytelling. It’s a great way to spice up content and make almost any product or service more memorable, relatable and can boost conversion rates by 30 percent.

What do you think of when you hear the word Storytelling? 

Children tucked into bed listening to fables. 

Friends sitting by a campfire sharing tall tales. 

People recalling memories with friends over a meal.

These are all examples of people not just listening, but absorbing information. If you’re trying to make a point with your content that’s exactly what you’re going for.

Anyone can tell a story but if you want to do it right, there are some things to keep in mind. We’ve all got that friend who struggles to keep everyone’s attention when telling a story, you don’t want to be them.

To tell great stories, it’s important to understand what storytelling is and what it isn’t. A high word-count alone doesn’t mean your content is a story. A story has a theme, a conflict and interesting characters. It has a beginning, a middle and a clear end. 

Turn what you do into a story

Instead of just providing a general description or list promoting your product or service, tell a story.

Whether you’re offering dental services or selling shoes, your products and services need to solve a problem or conflict in the customer’s life. That’s the story you want to tell. 

A great place to start is an old journalist technique. Answer the five W’s, who, what, when, where and why. 

Who needs your product? What problem does the product or service solve? When and where is it necessary to use it. Why does it work so well? 

Get to the core of what you’re offering and expand from there to build your own personal story. Also, make sure you’re using video and images along with your content. Keep it entertaining. 

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A great image can convey in one shot something that could take pages of text to describe. Images visualize your products and videos showcase your services.

YouTube is now the second-largest search engine after Google. Video can provide so many layers and add depth. 

Start at the beginning

Tell people how your business got started. Every superhero needs an origin story! You’re probably already doing this but if you’re not, you’re missing a major opportunity.

It’s an extremely effective way to connect to your customers. 

Businesses don’t just spring up out of nowhere, they’re created, by people. That’s the critical component. Your customers may form positive associations with your brand but people empathize with other people.

A great story lets the reader see themselves in the story. They may not be the main character but they have to be able to put themselves in their shoes. 

The most important thing here is to be authentic. If you’re too elaborate and outrageous, potential customers won’t trust you.

It’s also important to set guidelines. Who is telling the story? What goals were you trying to achieve and what specific obstacles were in your way? 

Keep it simple and easy to follow, you don’t want to ramble.

You want a story that’s factual and not over-dramatic but you still want it to entertain your audience. It’s important to strike a balance between engaging and over-the-top.

From zero to hero

Everyone loves an underdog.

When starting a business nearly everyone faces some sort of obstacle or problem. Was yours financial? Was it finding the right people to bring on at the ground level? Maybe it was finding just the right recipe or formula for a product. 

If you failed 37 times and the 38th was just right, that’s a great story.

If you can be specific and pass on some knowledge, even better. Everyone makes mistakes and in business, we’re all sure to make a few, especially when getting started. Share your experiences and pass on what you’ve learned so your audience can skip making the same mistake. 

That’s quality content with real value.

Just make sure at the end of your story, everyone lives happily ever after. Inspiration is powerful and it’s a great way to have people not only care about your content but remember it. 

Share stories about your employees and customers 

This is especially effective if you can tie this in with the previous section. 

Employees telling their own personal stories about how they got their start with you or how your product or service is changing their life is a way to build trust.

People trust employees more than CEOs. Once again this comes back to empathy. More people will relate to the “average Joe” moving up the ranks because they can see themselves in that person. 

The easiest people for your customers to empathize with are your other customers.

This is known as social proof and it’s the ultimate way to build trust.

When potential customers find out that others are having positive experiences with your business, they’re more likely to use your products or services. Customers are even more credible than employees. Showing that others are taking a chance on your company is especially important for new businesses.

You can use testimonials to spread the message. Interviews, showcases or even just tweets from happy customers. Remember to always be thankful and appreciative and you can’t go wrong.

Depending on the type of business you’re running it can also be important to make sure you’re showing what different types of customers have to say. If your target audience is broad, reflect that in the stories you share. 

Make a connection

This is where market research and knowing your audience is extremely important. You need to really know your demographics when creating your story. 

If you’ve created customer avatars or buyer personas they’ll come in handy here. 

If you want to reach as many people as you can, do some research and look into keywords that connect with the market you’re trying to reach. Make sure these keywords and phrases are part of your story. You want each individual hearing or reading your story to think you’re speaking to them personally.

Most businesses have dozens of stories to tell. You just need to take the time to craft them and bring them to life. Telling stories can make your content come alive.

If you manage to work all of the above into your content marketing strategy, you’ll be sure to make an impression on your customers.

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