By Liana Zavo, founder and CEO of ZavoMedia, a full-service PR agency in NYC serving entrepreneurs, individuals and small businesses.
Everyone loves to listen to a good story. Having the knack to deliver a narrative that fascinates listeners proves to be a good advantage. Storytelling has always captivated my interests. As a founder of a digital marketing agency and a podcast host, I find storytelling a valuable tool that efficiently draws people’s attention. It creates more opportunities and connections that promote the growth and recognition of your brand.
The art of storytelling has existed since time immemorial. It can spark inspiration to the masses and create a rippling effect of change and revolution. So, what makes a good story? How do you create stories that not only attract your target audience but also convince them to take action?
Here are three steps to mastering the art of storytelling and harnessing its power in sales.
Grasp the important elements of a good story.
Anyone can deliver a story in various ways, but it doesn’t mean that each is an effective and meaningful one. There are elements to consider before creating that big story that will thrust your brand to phenomenal heights. If you want to use storytelling as your marketing strategy, it is imperative to learn the following elements: the hero, the plot and the solution.
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• The hero is the main character. In the marketing scheme, the hero should be your target audience. Involve them in your story. As the protagonists, they immerse themselves into the situation, making it more realistic and relevant.
• The plot pertains to the problems they encounter. Use examples that typically happen in daily living and not hypothetical scenarios. The closer the situations are to reality, the easier it is for the audience to visualize the plot.
• The solution should be your product or service that uniquely resolves the plot. The hero must see the transformation happen where your brand actively solves the problem.
Every element is vital to forming an inspiring story. Before crafting one, study your target market first and do your research. When you understand your audience more, your goals become more visible and attainable. Choose your plot carefully and make sure that it is realistic and relevant to the present situation. Don’t veer off to overly imaginative setups that are hard to believe or too good to be true. Present your solution in the most authentic way possible. Show your audience how your brand offers the best answer without any hype. Remember to keep it simple and straightforward.
Step into the right place at the right time.
Storytelling in sales requires precision and timing. You merely cannot show your cards whenever you wish. Knowing when to tell your story creates a remarkable advantage for your brand.
Here are some examples of the best times to make use of storytelling.
• Introducing your brand to the public: Launching your brand is the perfect time to connect with the audience. It is also your chance to wow them with your story. Demonstrate what your brand is all about and who you are.
• Selling a new product or new service: Introducing a new product or service to the market can be tricky. Make sure to craft a good story that provides context to clients and makes them visualize how your brand can improve their lives.
• Making use of presentations: Stories incorporated in presentations help entice the audience. After grabbing their attention, reinforce your presentation with facts and simple data that the listeners can understand and easily relate to.
Timing plays a significant role in achieving powerful storytelling. If misplaced, the story could fall flat and be read awkwardly. People may find it overrated if you keep bombarding them with inconsistent or ill-timed narratives out of the blue. Take advantage of creating plans equipped with time frames to ensure that you and your team are on the right track.
Understand the effects and influence of storytelling.
Humans are hard-wired to listen to and become intrigued by stories regardless of age, gender and other factors. Over the course of human history, storytelling persists in every culture and permeates in each individual. By understanding the effects and responses that storytelling commands, you can successfully use its influence in your favor.
An impressive story arouses curiosity and interest. It triggers the release of specific hormones such as cortisol and oxytocin and stimulates the listeners to connect and empathize with the storyteller. Bear in mind that a good story must have a combination of logic and emotion to incite both sides of the brain. If you only present facts and information alone without igniting feelings, your story will fall short. By infusing human emotions into your stories, there is a greater chance for people to remember what they felt when they listened to your brand.
With the power of storytelling, leaders can build communities and inspire people to take action. This is also true in sales and marketing. Entrepreneurs can also influence the market with the right strategy of storytelling. It builds relationships, forms trust and transforms thoughts into actions.
I’ve used various techniques of storytelling and discovered that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Some strategies work wonders, while others may need improvements. Evolution always takes place. What I do know is – as long as you are passionate and continue to craft new ideas, you will never run out of genuine stories that captivate and resonate with your audience.