By: PETRA SMITH
People don’t necessarily buy the best products and services – they buy products and services that they can understand and like, from brands and people they can relate to. Using stories in business creates a competitive advantage – helps to create an effective marketing communication strategy, triggers interest with potential clients and strengthens loyalty with your existing ones. However, to trigger and keep your listener’s attention, you need to know your audience well enough to be able to identify relevant stories and tell them in a way that evokes the anticipated response.
- Make your story about your customers
Your customer is the hero of your story, not you. Your role is to make their life easier or better, so guide them through the story, instead of putting yourself in a position of the hero. Answer their questions and present solutions in a context that is relevant to them, in a form of a simple story. Instead of focusing on the features of your products and services, make your story about their aspirations – the feeling and experience your products and services will create.
- Identify what your audience wants
Unless you identify what is it that your audience wants, they won’t feel that they can relate to the story you are telling. Show your audience that you understand the challenges, context and culture of their situation to build trust. The crucial question you need to ask yourself before creating your story is what is it that the hero of your story wants and needs. The start of any story should be based on the wants and needs of the hero, and the rest of the story is about getting there.
- Define the challenge
By talking about the challenges your customers face, you deepen their interest in the solutions you offer. Facts don’t trigger imagination unless they are presented in an interesting context through stories that create emotions, empathy and thoughts, so it’s important to choose situations with emotional impact and meaning. Defining and addressing their challenges help to create a brand promise that will connect you with your customers. If they could resolve their problems, they would – the reason why they are interested to listen to you is because you can understand they frustrations and provide a solution.
- Connect with your audience
Knowing the audience helps to identify the relevant stories and chose the best way to tell the story, so it triggers the intended reaction. People can relate to the story and the characters if you can trigger their interest and doesn’t necessarily have to be the main character – your listeners can see the connection between themselves and critical aspects of your story. Tell the right story at the right time, so you can create a connection between the question and challenges of your audience and your story, and visualise your story to allow your audience to create an emotional connection that can impact their thinking.
- Articulate the solution
Your story should have a clear objective that links back to the overall purpose of the communication. Make it clear how your products and services will make your audience succeed and improve their life and make it simple for them to buy from you. Use stories to present alternative scenarios and perspectives that your audience wouldn’t consider otherwise. As a brand, it’s your job to convince your listeners and it’s your business that needs to take initiative and guide them through an easy and enjoyable buying journey.