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Why Your Business Needs to Tell a Story

 

Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.

- Seth Godin

 

There's something within you, me, and everyone that resonates when hearing a well-told story. One of my favorite stories is the story of Frodo, the Fellowship, their journey through Middle Earth, and the perils they face along the way. Though The Lord of the Rings is simply about Frodo transporting a ring to the only place it can be destroyed, it's the characters alongside him and everything that happens between leaving the Shire and reaching the destination, Mount Doom, that stimulates emotional responses from me.

The meat of a story is the journey, everything between the setting and resolution. 

Lord of the Rings would be exhaustingly boring (my wife probably loves hearing me say that) if it wasn't for the conflict, climax, and closure: a short man-like creature with hairy feet inherits a ring, takes it to a volcanic mountain, and tosses it into the lava within the mountain to destroy it. The end. 

Boring.

Translate this to your business. Most people can find out how you started and where you're at now, but what has the journey looked like? If the majority of the content you put out involves you pitching your business, your story is probably going to be boring to people. To really draw people in and elicit an emotional response to who you are as a company, you have to unfold the whole story, not just where you started and where you want to be. How are you unfolding the story in a manner that connects with your consumers?

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Below are four reasons why your business needs to tell a story.

Stories endear potential customers to your company

Telling a story takes your customers on a journey. Instead of introducing yourself and then immediately spoiling the ending, a story invites people on an adventure to discover who you are. What this does is transform people from spectators to characters and encourages participation in fulfilling the resolution of the story. When people can identify themselves, whether it's through relating to a character, idea, or conflict, they are probably going to be invested in the story that your company is unfolding.

Stories give your company a personality

A company without personality will have a difficult time provoking engagement from an audience. Think of the last time you were at a conference or listened to a speaker. Was the speaker engaging? If not, it's probably because he or she lacked a noticeable personality. Nothing is more nap-inducing than listening to someone who rambles on without any voice inflection or emotion. Stories have a tendency to draw passion out of the storyteller, and passion is contagious.

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Stories are authentic

Companies are, often times, seen as just that, companies. There seems to be an inherit wall that impedes a consumer's access to the company. But companies are comprised of humans working together to accomplish a goal. Telling a story helps bring down that wall which inhibits consumers from experiencing the human aspect of a company, and they convey an authenticity that resonates with people because of their humanistic nature.

Stories unveil things previously unknown

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Do you know who John B. McLemore is? Did you know who he was before March 28? Neither did I. If you've listened to the hit podcast S-Town, you know who he is now, though. S-Town is a podcast from Serial and This American Life that delves into the story of a guy named John B. McLemore. Because of the nature of stories, you can take the time to disseminate information that would have otherwise been left for only a few to know. Because of the story S-Town tells, I was introduced to one of the most eccentric people that I've ever heard about.  

Your business has a unique story. Don't hide it from people. Use it to humanize your company and connect with your audience on a deeper level than any sales pitch could.

 


 

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