Think about the last social or business gathering you attended. What stands out in your mind? Likely, it was a story relayed by someone you met or knew. Stories are deeply tied to the way we capture information, attach meaning and retain data. Bottom line is stories capture attention and foster trust.
- Stories are memorable. Many studies have shown a high correlation between narrativity (or story versus straight, fact-based) and the amount of information recalled.
- Stories tie into emotions. We remember what we feel.
- Stories help rationalize. Even though intellectually we may know a story is a specific case of one, we feel that a story rings true, especially if we can see ourselves in the characters.
- Stories create connection. A story well-told connects the teller and listener, especially if told in a personal, engaging way.
So how do you assemble and use your stories for your small business marketing?
Reach out to positive, valued partners and customers.
Ask them to think of a strong, vivid image or situation where we really helped you. Go with your first impression, and
Ask your employees for their stories too.
Have them think of a specific instance of “customer delight”. (You can really make things easy for everyone by recording the audio or video of the raw response.)
Record your own “origin story”.
Why did you start the company or create the product? What was your vision? What problem were you trying to solve? What obstacles did you face, and what drove you to keep moving forward?
Hire a writer.
You can also ask someone on your team to gather these raw stories, and assemble them into a library. Add details about the characters such as gender, age, background. Add emotion or how it felt throughout the process. Add credibility through specific details and numbers. Add an element of surprise or the unexpected (which also helps drawn in the listener and improve memorability).
Assemble a library.
Have at least one story per customer segment in addition to your origin story.
Stories can be used in many ways:
- On your website as quick credibility boosters. Stories can be used as quick quotes, client testimonials or longer case studies. Photos are a plus, as prospects are drawn to “look-alike” people and problems.
- At networking events. Having a few interesting stories burned into memory is a great way to answer that question, “So what does your company do?”.
- On social media. After polishing up your stories, ask your prospects and partners to post referrals on LinkedIn, Yelp or other rating sites.