Leveraging the power of storytelling in your brand
Does storytelling intimidate you? So far in my years of speaking and consulting I’ve come across two types of people when it comes to storytelling:
First, there are people who are 1) completely confused, intimidated, 2) think they are either not good storytellers, or 3) have not good stories to tell.
Many of these individuals think that storytelling is for experts like songwriters, authors, poets, or movie screenwriters. And they have a hard time imagining how storytelling can not only enhance the experience a customer has with a brand but how it actually can make a brand extremely successful when done well.
On the other hand, there are the people who have no problem feeling confident in their storytelling abilities which might be more problematic than the previous group.
They feel like they are natural-born storytellers, which is absolutely awesome but there is a difference between telling random stories and using stories with intent in order to make an impact, connect and move people into action.
Because the reality is that stories, when done right, are extremely powerful; especially in growing a successful brand or business.
Storytelling is arguably the most dynamic form of communication we have at our disposal.
Ok, I don’t know about you friend, but I am ready to dive in with storytelling. I gotta tell you this is a topic that I can geek out about very easily. I’m just that big of a believer in the power of stories. Stories that are presented and crafted well.
So, let’s have a quick overview of what you’ll learn by the end of this episode:
Why stories? And what is not using storytelling in your business costing you.
The 6 reasons stories are so powerful and how these reasons play into building connection and credibility with your audience.
The simple structure of storytelling (with this last one we will go into more detail on next week’s episode). It’s not enough to just tell stories, you’ve got to know how to build a story that resonates.
Ok, let’s dive right in.
I remember the first time I watched the show “Friends” all the way through. When the last episode of Season 10 ended I was legit depressed for a few good days.
Why? Because I was so sucked into the storyline of the show that I felt like I was part of that group of friends. I seriously felt like I was friend number #7. I hung out with them daily via the screen and the thought of not having that continue on made me extremely sad. That’s what stories do. They help us connect more than anything else.
Study after study shows something we all know intuitively, stories are extremely powerful. If you want to break down people’s walls, make an impact or help them change their lives, few things work better than a well-crafted and well-told story.
So, where does this innate desire for stories come from? Well psychologists argue that it’s both nature and nurture.
Let’s touch on both for a hot second.
1. Nurture: We are bombarded with bedtime stories, fairy tales, parables, and cartoons pretty much from the time we are born; and that continues to be the case throughout our entire life. Did you know that worldwide we spend $90 billion a year on movies and another $90 billion on video games? And on average we watch 30 hours a week of television. So as you can tell we are conditioned towards stories pretty much all our lives
2. Nature: There’s a researcher named Paul Zak who found that stories cause the release of a chemical called oxytocin in our brain. And as we know oxytocin is what’s called the bonding hormone. The chemical that is related to feelings of empathy. So basically when you are telling especially somber stories you are softening up your audience, making them more receptive to your ideas. On the other hand, when you tell happy stories of your somber story at the end turns good, there’s the hormone called endorphins that get released. The happy hormone. Which in turn helps motivate and inspire your audience. And here’s the amazing part of all of this, when we hear a story, it triggers the same area of the brain that is stimulated when we experience an actual event. Meaning, your brain doesn’t make much distinction between story and reality.
As you can see, stories are so powerful!! And when you don’t leverage this in your business you are missing out on making a greater impact, creating deeper connections with your audience as well as leaving money on the table.
We don’t like to admit this but as human beings, we buy on emotions. When we emotionally moved enough that’s when we pull in our rational side in order to justify our purchase.
One last note here, stories ALWAYS trump statistics. Always. According to research out of a group of college students who had to listen to a series of presentations 63 percent remembered the stories they heard and only ONLY 5% could recall the statistics presented.
THE 6 REASON STORIES WHY STORIES ARE SO POWERFUL AND HOW THESE REASONS PLAY INTO BUILDING CONNECTION AND CREDIBILITY WITH YOUR AUDIENCE
- Stories tap into emotions. Best stories trigger an emotional response and again research shows that “emotionally charged events” carry a lot more meaning and weight than ordinary events.
- Stories put a face to an idea. At the end of the day, nobody cares about methods, processes, or spreadsheets. They care about people and relationships. So if you can put powerful stories behind your ideas you will have more success in getting them across to people in your audience.
- Stories connect us. Simone Sinek says “People don’t care what you do until they know why you do it.” Stories help you tell the why of your business. Which helps you connect more easily.
- Stories make us relatable. When you tell the why story behind your brand it offers a glimpse into who you are as the person behind the brand and what are your values. And that is extremely appealing to potential customers.
- Stories raise the stake. Stories help us rally around a common idea or value. They help us rise beyond our everyday and mundane. Which gives us a bigger vision and purpose.
- Stories “show, don’t tell”. People will always understand your ideas more when you show them through. In a way, stories are like a tangible example that helps connect vague ideas to practical and understandable actions and results. Example of a testimonial.
Again, so many amazing reasons why you need to incorporate storytelling into your business. And not only incorporate but build your business on its foundation.
THE SIMPLE STRUCTURE OF STORYTELLING
Whenever I ask my students or clients to define a story to me, I always get a mixture of answers. Some say that story is an experience. Others say it’s a journey. Others say a story always starts with a problem while yet others will say, well a story has a beginning, middle, and end.
And yes, while a story should definitely have a beginning, middle, and end, that’s not the whole picture, there’s a lot more to it than that.
For example, if I entered the destination Yellowstone into my navigation app, it wouldn’t help me much if the directions said something like:
- In the beginning, leave your driveway
- Then in the middle, drive for 1602 miles (I actually googled how far Yellowstone is from my house)
- In the end, arrive at Yellowstone National Park.
We need a little more structure than that, don’t we?
The same goes for storytelling: We need a structure or framework we can use to build out a well-crafted story.
In its simplest form, a story is a character who is in pursuit of a goal, who also faces challenges or an obstacle, and how the character rises to resolve the challenge drives the narrative.
This is storytelling structure in its simplest form. There are undeniably other elements to a great story - a turning point, climax, big finale, and more - but the character, the goal, and the challenge are the three pillars and without these there you don’t really have a story.
I will go a lot deeper with this final point in next week’s episode. But for now, I know that this is a great place for you to start with stories.
So, here’s your assignment for this week: I want you to write out one story as it relates to your business that follows this storyline. The character can be you, a client, or your audience. And then share the story with your community on social or via email.
Tag me on Instagram - @csillamuscan !
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