Why Use Stories in Marketing?

The web allows you to reach ANYONE…

And that’s the PROBLEM.

(Because everyone else can, too.)

‘Cause we’re not living in the Information Age …

It’s waaay worse than that —

We’re all just trying to survive the Information AVALANCHE …

And as a result, we’ve all learned to forge some pretty thick SHIELDING against marketing messages — messages that threaten to steal away our precious time from the stuff that we like to see.

Like our twitter feeds … or celebrity gossip … or free “how to” articles so we can get the damn kitchen sink running again …

And so we don’t have the time or patience to sit through a boring list of claims from another business …

… no matter how great your product or service is.

Now, if you’ve got a visitor who’s HOT for your product already and just needs to know how to get their eager hands on what you’re selling, you really don’t need to advertise or market.

Just slap a big ol’ “buy here” button on your site.

But …

If instead —

  • you sell a product or service that is hard to understand at first glance (like a technical product)
  • you or your product isn’t well known (because it’s brand new or you just haven’t been able to get any attention)
  • people don’t know or trust you
  • your audience has a bad impression of you already
  • you’re drowning in a swarm of competition and you stand out less than a shrub in a Where’s Waldo? book

 

… Then you probably DREAM of a way to :

Grab and Hold the Attention of your best customers long enough to show just how awesome your product is.

How do you do this?

Slick graphics? Video video video? Outrageous stunts? Ironic hipster humor? A 2 million dollar super bowl commercial?

Nah.

Your best chance at reaching the limited, short attention span of your best prospects is to give their BRAINS exactly what they demand …

… the kind of message that their minds are hardwired to pay attention to …

And THIS is the kind of message that your competitors are using.

Actually, I’m not talking about your direct competitors – people in the same market as you.

(Because it’s actually SHOCKING how few businesses market this way.)

No, I’m talking about your TRUE competitors – those attention sucks I mentioned earlier:

Facebook … Youtube … Instagram … Blogs … News stories … celebrity gossip …

Now, what do these captivating time-sucks all have in common?

Is it CONTENT? (Content is King,  says the experts these days.)

Well, that’s partly true.

But underneath all that “content”, there is actually something much more compelling and much more ancient than the most recent marketing fad.

It’s a “Secret Sauce” for communication … one that always has been used …

and always WILL be used …

simply because it is the “Native Language” of our brains.

Our brains are hardwired  (you might say optimized)

… to NOTICE and LISTEN TO information that’s presented in a very specific way.

It’s how we survived in our evolutionary past … like how we learned to avoid the Saber Tooth tiger lurking by the river … or snatch a few eggs from a handy bird’s nest for a “paleo” supper that staved off starvation for another day.

All those Viral Videos and Trending Stories share something in common – whether it’s pure entertainment or useful information like news or a content article  …

… the mind is compelled to listen to a message that is wrapped up in a …

STORY!

Science shows brains are hardwired to speak in stories — it’s our natural “language.”

  • Ordinary claims and language activate the analytical “left brain” areas in our brains… but stories — like experiences from reality — activate the EMOTIONAL centers.
  • Brain Scans show that our brains don’t distinguish between a good story and reality — the same regions of the brain light up for each

Savvy marketers know that people make the decision to buy only when they feel something …

And we feel things when we experience stories.

It’s that simple.

As the scholar Jonathan Gottschall reports in his book The Storytelling Animal:

“If you slide a person into an FMRI machine that watches the brain while the brain watches a story, you’ll find something interesting–the brain doesn’t look like a spectator, it looks more like a participant in the action. When Clint Eastwood is angry on screen, the viewers’ brains look angry too; when the scene is sad, the viewers’ brains also look sad.”

So … if you want to compete with other clips about cats or even a random’s reviewer unboxing video of her latest smartphone …

You’ve got to fight fire with fire and tell a compelling story.

But not just any story will do …

You need a “Sales Story” — one that takes your prospect on a journey … that moves her emotionally …

so that by the end of seeing your story …

she is emotionally primed for your offer.

I call this kind of story a Magnetic Sales Story, and when it’s done right …

… it will engage the emotions and attention of your audience in a way that a traditional marketing message simply can’t.

Like a Magnet, it will pull your prospect in …

(unlike a bunch of claims and logic, which bounce off the skeptical shields we’re forced to carry with us in this information-overloaded world)

Places You Can Use Your Magnetic Sales Story

  • The attention-grabbing Lead in a Sales Video or Letter
  • The script for your Kickstarter video or other crowd-funding campaign … one that builds an instant emotional connection with your prospects.
  • The captivating “plot line” for a dripped email series
  • Compelling landing page for your Lead Magnet or Product/Service
  • Fast-moving script for your 2-3 minute explainer video
  • An “about us” or “our story” page that WON’T bore your reader to tears
  • Presell page to qualify and emotionally “PRIME” your customers BEFORE they reach your VSL or sales letter

I want to help you harness the power of a Magnetic Sales Story.

 

I’ve Preached. Now Let Me Practice …

Here’s a short parable that teaches the power of story in making sales:

Two marketers are sitting at a bar, treading the ground of an old debate.

The first veteran, Gus, waves his hands wildly to make his point. “You’ve got to saturate your prospects with your message!” he shouts. “Be everywhere and be the loudest! Overwhelm them with your data and leave no doubt in their minds that you’re the best! That’s how you own the market.”

His bar-mate, a jovial man named Ray, shakes his head and grins. “Draw in your listeners with a great story, and they’ll strain to hear you – even if you whisper,” he says with a wink.

“Prove it!” challenges Gus.

So the men agree on a friendly wager. The challenge? Get a complete stranger to part with his sports jacket for an hour. They choose a man fidgeting with his drink at the end of the bar.

Gus goes first. He slips out a handful of hundred dollar bills and approaches the man. Makes his pitch – lists all the reasons why the guy should rent him his sports coat for an hour … all the kicks he could be having with the three hundred dollars in his hand.

Doesn’t let up for a moment – no dead air. Smacks his hand on the bar to show he means every word.

But … no sale. The stranger hunches over his drink as Gus stomps back to Ray.

Gus mumbles something about “not the right prospect.”

Ray’s turn. He strolls over and takes the stool next to the man. Ray starts to talk, and soon the man is laughing. In a few moments, the man takes off his coat … and his tie … and his dress shirt. He hands them all to Ray and strides off to a booth in the back.

Ray returns to his friend, whose jaw hangs open in disbelief.

“What the heck did you say?” he demands.

“Turns out he was gathering his courage at the bar before heading to a date in the back. Blind date.

“So I told him about the time I met a girl at a bar.

“How I got so nervous waiting for her I spilled my beer all over my jacket and dress shirt. So when she arrived a few minutes later she found me clad in my two hundred-dollar shoes, dress slacks, Armani belt … and a white t-shirt.”

“And then what happened?” asks Gus, forgetting about the wager for a moment.

“After laughing for a good minute, she said how glad she was to finally go on a blind date with someone other than a stuffed shirt. Yada yada yada … now we have two kids and a mortgage.”

“That’s how you met Rachel?” asks Gus.

Ray nods, taking a sip of his beer.

“Anyway,” Ray says, “I guess he liked my story.”

Stories Win

First, a confession: You may notice I swiped this tale from one of the greatest storytellers in history – Aesop, from his fable “The North Wind and The Sun.”

In Aesop’s telling, the North wind and the Sun make a wager about who can compel a man to shed his coat the fastest. The harder the Wind blew, the tighter the man held onto his coat. But when the Sun spread his warmth, the man threw off his coat in a hurry.

Stories are like golden rays of sunshine – they warm and entertain, build trust without trying, and invite people to share and join the party.

Loud explanations, however — blustery claims of all the reasons why you’re so great — are like the gusts of the harsh North wind – more likely to send your prospect ducking for cover, with wallet in lock down mode.

Stories waltz past mistrust and plunge inside the flow of experience that a person is already caught up in.

After all, our lives are one long story, filled with villains, triumphs, and the promise of a golden sunrise waiting just beyond the next hill.

The moral of the story is – be the sunrise.

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