Your customers love your stories.
It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce. Voltaire
Let me take you back, to an era where your grand father used to tell you all of those stories about his younger years. Such a heroic man, such an admirable figure. Remember? Of course you do!
Even though you might think story telling is just as simple as making up stuff out of your mind, it is not. In fact when you listen to a story several procedures take place in your mind.
- Neural Coupling: A story activates parts of your brain that helps you create your own ideas and experience in an effort to find a common narrative.
- Mirroring: Have you ever felt like you were part of the story as it evolved? Or that you actually felt the pain or pleasure as the narrator unfolted the story? Those feelings of empathy is when your mirror neurons take place and activate.
- Dopamine: Ohh yeah! This is the feeling you get when you are emotionally charged as dopamine hormones are released through yout brain. This helps you remember the event with better accuracy.
- Cortex Activity: When processing information your cortex is been activated. If you know how to share a well told story then you might luckily activate more areas of the cortex.
All of these sound really cool, but how do they relate to bringing more customers in for your business?
Appealing logic & Emotion
I had a big revelation about the power of story telling when I was a university student in Thessaloniki. My project In-visible Heroes which was somehow our way to spend our days more creatively with a friend was our realization that stories are powerful. The aim of the project was to unite Greece through story telling of their people and show to tourists that they have more reasons to re-visit Greece, even in crisis. We bought a camera, hit the roads and started talking to strangers. We wanted to explore their stories, their hidden desires, the way they see their country and how they feel about their current state. This project lasted about six months. But the results were amazing. Within the first two months of our activity we managed to draw attention from the media for our project.
Local radio stations called us in for interviews, the press kept writing about us for 3 consecutive days, we presented at work at TedxUniversityofMacedonia and shortlisted amongst 400 participant startups for the CGIU Clinton Global Initiative. Above that, we presented a dedicated lecture at our University on how creativity can open doors to employment and managed to have the help from 25 university students from all over Greece who voluntarily joined the project and kept sending us stories from different destinations of the country.
Even though, we did not get a fund to continue with our project we got a huge insight:
Stories are powerful.
Story telling gave us the opportunity to drive massive attention for our local audience and get support from people who didn't even knew us. The reason was that our own story was about "Fighting for a Cause". We seeked to connect, we wanted to respond to the anxieties and frustrations of Greeks with solidarity, understanding and positivity.
Going back and forth to the process of story telling I realized one simple rule:
People do not respond to products or Brands. They respond to people. They are seeking for a common narrative. A focal point they can relate to. If you go back to the beggining of advertising you will understand that Brands never tried to communicate a product rather than a story. An emotion. A similar situation. From Coca-Cola to Nike, story telling is the epicenter of attention from marketeers towards building colossal empires.
Stories are free
I know you are nothing like Nike or Coca-Cola, but you need to connect. You want to pass the message out there and find your reason for attention. Below you may find a few tips on how you can leverage on story telling to make the most of your Brand:
- Your Website and Social Networks: This is where the magic begins. Don't just write it in your about section. Make it the unique point of connection. Build stories around your daily activities, share your point of view, prove you are human with emotions and fight for your own cause. Soon you will realize that you will have a pack that will start following you.
- Your Sales Process: Story telling can fit at any stage of the purchasing journey of your potential buyer. From intention to learn, to how can a Brand make their lives easier you can use stories to make them feel before they act. Story telling is the go-to tactic to increase relevance, build on trust and credibility and reduce perceived risk. Use it.
- Making New Friends: Have you ever felt that awkward feeling when people ask you "what you do" at networking events? This is your chance to make an impression and take the lead. Instead of structuring a standardized answer of what you functionaly do for a living try giving some value to the dialogue. First, respond with a question: Give attention to your audience and learn what is the greatest challenge of their daily life. Then, build your scenario towards finding a solution to their problem by explaining at the same time how you got there. Let them know of your steps to success, what urged you to change your life, what was your greater challenge and your passion for someting better. Where you are coming from is the ultimate weapon to build on rapport and find the commonalities. From Zero to Hero, you will make them feel special for sharing your story and at the same time connecting with them at a higher emotional level.
To sum it up
People do not buy products or services. People buy your stories.