How to Make Customers Listen (Really Hear What You Say)

- Lindsay Hoffman

I’m sure you’ve all said it before: “If I could just get five minutes with customer X to tell him about our new widget, I’m sure I could make the sale.” But when you get those five minutes, how did you use them? Did you spotlight all the benefits of your widget and how it can save money? Did you recite from memory the contents of your brochures? Or did you go beyond the facts and tell a story?

By definition storytelling is: the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. In business, when it’s done well, storytelling can illustrate an otherwise difficult concept, drive home a point or encourage consumer loyalty through entertainment or emotional connection. Storytelling allows a business to communicate with its target audience. This can be done through websites, blogs, articles, emails, video and social media.

As a tactic, storytelling is based on the concept that people remember information better when it is told as a story rather than presented as a list of facts. Why? Stories make presentations better. Stories help ideas stick. Stories persuade. Leaders tell stories to inspire and motivate. Content that generates an emotional response — whether it is empathy, sympathy, anger or laughter — is more likely to be remembered.
So what’s your story? Here are some simple dos and don’ts to get started.

Do:

  • Have a brand storytelling plan.
  • Consider your audience. Choose a framework and details that will best resonate with your audience.
  • Identify the moral or message you want to communicate.
  • Maintain message consistency. Always tell a consistent story about your company, product or service.
  • Keep it interesting. You need to keep the reader engaged long after they’ve heard the story.

Don’t:

  • Preach. A brand story should not read like marketing copy.
  • Overwhelm your story with unnecessary details.
  • Lie. People will pick a story that is not genuine a mile away.

Whether you’re a publicly traded company or a small family-run business, there is power in telling stories. Maybe it’s about why you founded the company and the values you instill in your team. Or maybe it’s about the development path of a new product or service you’re bringing to market. Whatever the story may be, in today’s marketing environment, you need tell your stories.