How to Use Storytelling to Sell More

I recently read a book, “Success Made Simple: An Inside Look at Why Amish Businesses Thrive,” by Erik Wesner, that explored the fact that Amish-owned businesses have a 95% success rate. Staggering, isn’t it? One of the many factors of Amish success explained in the book is how sales are often bolstered by storytelling.

Why It Works

We all like stories, and a personal, meaningful anecdote can generate action in ways traditional sales copy usually can’t. It’s about differentiating yourself from the competition, and getting (and keeping) attention as you attempt to sell your product or service.

A good story is memorable. A good story reminds people of something they want or need, and sticks with them long after it’s over. A good story hits the audience close to home and makes them act.

If you are able to use a story to have that kind of influence on your clients and potential clients, you will see an increase in sales, improved company loyalty and more word of mouth marketing.

The Rules

At some point in your life, you may have heard a story that seemed to have no point, relevance or interest-factor. There’s nothing that can make it end soon enough. While there are no rules per se when it comes to storytelling as a marketing technique, there are things to keep in mind so you don’t become the business with the never-ending, uninteresting, irrelevant story.

Here are some ground rules for using storytelling effectively in your marketing activities:

  • Make sure your story makes sense.
  • Don’t let it go on forever.
  • Relate it to the specific needs of your target audience.
  • Make your story unique.
  • Tell a story that is believable.
  • Don’t be afraid to tug on the heartstrings if it supports your story.
  • Be convincing.
  • Don’t forget the ever-important call to action.
  • Stick with one story.

No Story? No Problem.

When it comes to storytelling, you’re not limited by your own experience. Your story should be based in reality, but as long as it’s compelling, believable and told in a genuine way, you can create a story.

Your story can be about an imaginary person, facing the same challenges as your target audience. Or, you can develop a compelling story based on something that already exists – telling how a unique business name or logo came to be, for example.

The options are unlimited and just about every business, freelancer and individual that markets something can benefit from storytelling.

Are you ready to write your story? Read on to discover specific steps for creating a compelling story you can use as the cornerstone of your marketing activities, including what to do with it once you have it written.

Image credit: dimitri_c

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  • http://randomwisdom.tumblr.com pbaarn

    Hi Alyssa,

    I always think it’s funny how in management books they always have convenient stories to tell which fit exactly into their message. It helps, for sure, but with so much storytelling going on, the value of unverified stories is going down, at least for me.

    A story is better than no story. But a story that can be verified is even better.

    I look forward to your tips on storytelling. My tip: if you have to make up a story, maybe you should make that story come true and let that client tell the story.

    Paul Baarn