Storytelling & Content: Connecting With Your Customers Through Stories
Everyone loves a good story. Most people have bookshelves in their homes filled with stories that they take time out of their day to read. As well as sitting in front of the TV watching stories played out in front of them.
Think back to all of the conversations you’ve had over the past couple of days. I can guarantee that the majority of them have involved you either telling or listening to stories. That annoying co-worker you have who keeps stealing your pens? That’s a story you told to your friend over coffee. Your friend’s partner not replacing the milk when he finished it? That’s a story she told you.
We love stories because we can relate to them. Everyone has an annoying co-worker or a partner who does something to irritate them. And it makes you feel better when you can tell others your stories, or hear that you’re not the only one with these problems.
So why not bring these stories into your content? You want your customers to relate to your business, right? You want them to feel happy when they read your content? Storytelling is just as important for your business as it is for our everyday lives.
But Why Is Storytelling So Important?
Scientifically, our brains are made to remember stories. Some suggest we’re 22x more likely to remember something if it’s told to us as a story rather than as a list of facts. Hearing stories that we can relate to also stir up emotions in us, which release dopamine from the brain and make us more likely to remember it (yep that's the same happy hormone that's released when you eat chocolate).
But even regardless of science, storytelling is pivotal for your business because it makes you seem more human. You’re not just spouting a bunch of facts and features of your products. You’re showing the benefits of using your products in a way that resonates with your customers. You’re giving them an experience rather than pitching to them.
Stories are a great way to build and nurture trust between you and your customer. When written right they can make your customer feel like they’ve been on a journey with you, and build a connection between you.
So how do you write these magical stories for your content, then?
Well, think about the last books you read, or TV shows you watched. What was the one thing they all had in common? They all had a proper structure. A beginning, middle, and end.
Your content works the same way. Give it a narrative structure that your reader can follow along with.
This is where you set the scene and introduce your characters. Every story needs a hero and a villain. Think back to the stories you tell your friend over coffee. The co-worker who steals your pens? Clearly a villain. Your friend putting up with empty bottles of milk in the fridge? Hero, obviously.
The story in your content is no different. Your hero is going to be someone your customer can relate to. Someone that’s going through the same things as your customer would be going through. Your villain is going to be the problems that your customers face.
The important thing for this part of the story is to know your customers well enough to know what kind of characters they can relate to. Know their goals and the problems they face when trying to reach them.
This is where you introduce the conflict into your story. Conflict is the most important part because without it there’s nothing to get your customer excited about reading on. You need to create suspense and tension so they have no choice but to find out what happens next.
The conflict in most stories comes about when the hero wants something, but the villain is stopping them from getting it. For example, Cinderella wants to go the ball, but her evil stepmother is stopping her from going. Or Simba wants to become king after a long and happy life with his father, but Scar throws Mufasa into a stampede and usurps the throne (23 years later and I’m still not over it).
So the hero in your story might want more leads from the traffic to their website. The villain, in this case, might be bad website copy, and that’s stopping visitors from becoming leads.
Your suspense comes from showing what happens when the problem goes untreated. When the villain is allowed free reign over the hero’s life, like Scar ruling over Pride Rock and slowly starving the pack to death. Or in your case, your hero’s number of leads getting lower and lower.
Make sure you use this conflict to spark emotions in your readers. Make them relate to your hero’s plight. Fear of losing possible leads will make your customer read on if they think you can offer them a solution.
Which is when you get to the climax of your story. This is where your hero finds a solution for their problem and defeats the villain. In other words, they find your product and overcome their problem, finally reaching their goals.
Tapping into emotions is just as important here as for the conflict. You want to make the reader take action once they’ve finished reading. Be empathetic and show that you know exactly what they’re going through. Prove that your product can make a difference in their business by showing its benefits against their problems.
Again, knowing your customers inside and out is the most important part of this. As long as you know your customers and what problems they face when trying to reach their goals, you will have no problem showing them what your product can overcome.
As in all good storytelling, the main thing to focus on with your content is to show, not tell, your customer how good your product is. You don’t have to list all of its features, you have to prove its benefits.
If you get this right then you’re on the right track to building emotional connections with your readers and customers, and having them see you as the solution to defeating all of their villains.