How storytelling can help grow your business

What makes web or print content memorable? What helps the mind latch onto some ideas? But not others?

The answer, my friends, is storytelling.

Think of it as a superpower.

At its best, storytelling can not only keep prospects glued to your content. It may even captivate them and get them interested in your services.

Consider the typical car ad. A car races down a road. Maybe it’s a straightaway. Maybe it’s a winding mountain road. You don’t see the driver’s face. You don’t know where the car is going. And you can’t wait for the ad to be over.

In contrast, let’s take a look at a car ad that I adore. I’ve probably seen it more than 300 times. And each time I catch sight of it, I have to watch it to the end.

It involves a girl, her dog, and her boyfriend.

Why does it work so well?

There’s a clear problem. Butch, the dog seems to resent the boyfriend’s presence. On multiple occasions, he growls and shoots an icy stare at the boyfriend. I want to know more.

“Butch is like an old soul,” the boyfriend says, “that just hates my guts.”

Even when the boyfriend tosses a ball, the dog doesn’t want to play.

By now, I’m hooked. The best stories do not push you somewhere. Like this, they pull you in.

There’s an element of suspense. Where is this going? Will someone get dumped? Will this conflict be resolved?

I won’t give away the ending. But spoiler alert!

Suffice to say it leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. And the beginning of the closing script is memorable, tying together the theme of the ad with branding for Subaru. “You can never have too many faithful companions.”

At its best, storytelling can help you forge an emotional connection. Prospects can become so emotionally invested in the story you tell that they can’t forget it. When empathy kicks in, it’s almost as if they’re experiencing the story from the inside, not as an outsider looking in.

Stories draw people together. And if you tell a story people relate to, you become someone people will want to know, like, and trust. The best storytelling will make people want to work with you.

Here are a few storytelling tips:

  1. Show your prospects the contours of the problem you help solve. What specific conditions make it a problem?
  2. Engage their curiosity. What happens next? Build suspense.
  3. Prune to make the story easy to follow. The art of writing is the art of cutting. Don’t include every last detail. Just include those that move the story along.

Humans are always searching for meaning. And we make sense of the world through stories. That’s why the Subaru ad is much more memorable than the typical bland car commercial.

So what’s the takeaway?

Look for opportunities to use storytelling to introduce your products or services to the world. It’s much more powerful than simply spraying information with a fire hose at prospects. You all have this storytelling superpower. Use it to do good in the world.