Desperately Seeking the Truth

How do you reach your customers when they are overwhelmed by the amount of information thrown at them daily? Storytelling could be the answer you seek.

People today are bombarded by so much information that they have become numb to what feels like advertising or, during political cycles like we are in today, out and out fabrication.

Small business owners should resist the temptation to copy what passes for advertising today and focus on telling the truth. I don’t really mean to imply that companies are lying about what their product or service can do, I just mean that they aren’t giving us any reason to believe in or trust what they have to say.

So how do you do tell the truth? Tell me a story. Speak to me honestly about why you got into business, tell me your pain, show me how you struggle and, most of all, give me some reason to hope.

Create a marketing document that tells your story and you will find that you can use it in a variety of ways.

The marketing story is such an effective tool because it allows you to do several things that traditional marketing or advertising does not.

People learn through stories

Stories are an effective way to simplify a complicated issue. Stories can create emotion. People buy on emotion and rationalize their decision with facts Stories are easier to remember because people can more readily relate to a story. Most importantly, stories build trust.

The basic types of plots for your marketing story

Who I am stories – Stories that allow the reader to connect with who you are or who the company is.

What I do stories – Stories that communicate what your firm does in a way that gets at why it does it.

The vision stories – Stories that paint a picture of a dynamic future.

Values in action stories – Stories that illustrate slogan like “we try harder.”

Lessons learned stories – Shared lessons that expose the human side – both the good and the bad.

I know you stories – Stories that demonstrate to the reader that you have walked in my shoes.

The link to your core marketing message or USP

As you create your marketing story it is helpful to keep your USP in mind. The marketing story can be a very effective way to demonstrate the words in your most important marketing promise or core message.

Your story should be chosen partly based on its ability to directly link the reader to your USP.

A word about structure

There are several items that go into a good story. Your story should have personality. A good story is always a good story. Your story should connect with the reader by revealing a simple truth. Your story needs a caretaker. Someone in the firm needs to own the story and give it a passionate voice. Your story should be so focused on the target market so that they can see themselves as characters in your story.

Several great uses for a good story

  • It can help you recruit employees who relate to the story.
  • It can and should be part of your marketing materials. Print it on the back of invoices. Hang it in the hall. Tell it in your newsletter. Put it on your web site.
  • Use it to help present your firm in an industry award competition.

A couple of closing thoughts

The story must be true. I don’t think that I need to explain that one too much.

The story must be somewhat entertaining. Facts and figures can add credibility to a story but emotion and personality keep the interest.

A 13 year old should be able to understand and appreciate the story. If you have a teenager, then you know what a challenge this is. Pass this test and you know you have a winner.

Length. Your story should take no longer than 3-5 minutes to read or tell. Anything longer and you had better have some intriguing plot twists.

Looking for a great example of a marketing story?  Visit here:

Copyright 2004 John Jantsch

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