Stories are 22 times more memorable than fact alone. Yet few B2Bs are taking full advantage. Here, our brilliant features writer Chris Bilko looks at how to fold stories into marketing communications, to ensure your prospects engage and react.
Spreading the word of God can’t be easy.
Your prospects presumably have a pre-existing set of beliefs. They’ve most likely held them all their lives.
And shaking things up now rests with you. You’ll need to interrupt your prospects, without a formal invitation, and convert them to your way of thinking – a way of thinking that probably conflicts with everything they currently think is true.
As far as challenges go, it’s got to be up there. And yet, following the life of one Jesus Christ, a handful of mavericks managed to displace every established belief system the entire globe over.
Now how in the world did they achieve their goal?
A simple lesson for the marketers of today
The mavericks did so in a number of ways. But none was more successful than through the parables of the Bible; a collection of simple stories that each contained an underlying message.
Just think about that for a second. Because no matter what your religion, the following is fact:
In a time long before digital communications, a small handful of Jews clustered in northern Israel transformed a fledgling new belief system into the most subscribed-to religion in the world – and they did so primarily through the medium of story.
There’s a lesson in that for marketers, isn’t there?
How to make your message 22 time more effective
If the above tells us anything, it’s that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools marketers have at their disposal. The numbers are there for all to see:
According to Stanford University research, stories are an incredible 22 times more memorable than facts alone. The scholar Jonathan Gottschall even claims stories ensure our survival; they help us make sense of our everyday world.
It’s little wonder then, that the heavyweights of today’s marketing landscape – from Google to Guinness and from Apple to AirBnB – all use stories to get their messages across.
And it’s also little wonder that others – desperate to join the storytelling bandwagon – are consistently getting it so hopelessly wrong…
Where marketers are currently getting it wrong
You can rarely fault marketing-folk for their enthusiasm.
Whenever a new comms tool emerges, there’s usually a mad-dash to put it to use.
And that’s precisely what’s happened with storytelling of late – and it’s precisely why there’s so much confusion around the subject.
Because when you think of telling stories, it’s easy to assume it’s your story you need to tell: your history, your quest, your trials and successes.
But this, of course, is not what prospects want to hear.
What they really want to hear – in fact, what they only ever want to hear – is answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. So with that in mind, the traditional storytelling framework changes.
The hero of your story is sadly not you. The hero of your story is, of course, your prospect.
How to tell your story
Knowing the above, you can begin to weave a compelling brand narrative.
First, you need to draw attention to the quest your prospect is undertaking. Whether they know it or not, the fact that they’re a prospect means they’re no doubt seeking something. What’s missing from their lives? Or, what’s present that shouldn’t be? Identify with their problem. Bring it into view.
Next comes the solution to their problem, or the answer to their question. And this is your brief appearance in the tale. Your product or service is the key to whatever it is your prospect is seeking. It leads to riches, or to success, or to an easier night’s sleep. Highlight what your offering does, not just what it is.
Finally, the end
Finally, your story requires a resolution – and it’s to be decided by your prospect. They can either continue on their path and walk away with their problems. Or they can take action and make a positive change to their life.
If you’ve done your job properly, the latter will now be a great deal more attractive.
Turning theory into practice
That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, telling compelling stories isn’t always so simple.
But after practice, it’s what we’ve become really quite good at. Our content marketing helps B2Bs in the energy, technology and commercial sectors get their message across. So if you need a hand converting more prospects, let us know.
Unlike missionaries, we can’t promise miracles. But we can craft you messages that get people to engage and react.
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