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The Marketing Power of Stories

Emotional response is the reason why stories have been used to carry messages since civilization's dawn. When you tell stories in marketing, you tap into the emotional connection that is at the core of marketing success.

"Momma, tell me a story."


Read that, and you can almost feel the child, curled up and cozy in a lap. Stories have an incredible ability to reach us emotionally. Many stories have a message, and often that message reaches the listener at a deep level because they have gotten emotionally involved in the story. That emotional response is the reason why stories have been used to carry messages since civilization's dawn. When you tell stories in marketing, you tap into the emotional connection that is at the core of marketing success.


Although we "tell" a story, a story works because it "shows." Stories get past all those abstract and sometimes confusing words we use in talking about our products and services. They paint pictures in the listener's mind--pictures that the listener actively constructs from the words you use. That active participation increases their retention of your message. When you tell a story about your work, or your product, you make your claims indirectly, so the reader doesn't feel a need to defend against a "sell." The story contains the information to validate the claim. Would you be more likely to believe a statement that a product saves time for business customers, or that the product allowed a company like yours to reassign three people from back-office tasks to an expanded customer-service unit? So tell your customers stories--in conversation, and in writing. Tell them about how you helped a client or how your product achieved a breakthrough for a customer. Let them read about the times your services saved the day for a client. Give them stories that illustrate subtle aspects that make your product or services unique---information that can be hard to convey more directly. Make your service's value clear by putting the benefits in context.


What Makes a Good Marketing Story?


Be specific. Be authentic. Go beyond the business facts to help your listener/reader to visualize and to empathize. Use language rich in adjectives and adverbs. Let them feel the panic in the customer's voice when they called just as your were about to lock up or power down for the evening. Show them the customer's beaming face when your work led them to land the sale of the year. Capture your own feelings (well, some of them) while you did what it took to make a difference for the client. Above all, a good marketing story should be a good story.





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