It's all in the story...

By: Viveka Monday December 20, 2010 comments Tags: Social Media, storytelling

People like stories.

Think about it – when you (try to) put your kids to sleep, how well does a detailed explanation for why they should go to bed work?  For those of you who don't have kids and can't remember that far back, the answer is... not so much.

As a sales or marketing professional, you might try the strategies you use with your clients -

You could give them the list of benefits of going to bed now (and maybe you have:)

  • Morning will come sooner

  • You won’t be cranky in the morning

  • You need your rest to do well in school

You might try bribery:

  • I’ll make pancakes for you in the morning

  • You can wear what you want to school if you go to bed now

  • You can stay up an hour later this weekend

You might even resort to your reasons for them going to bed early:

  • Mommy needs her sleep

  • I can’t deal with this right now

  • Because  I said so..

And how well did benefits, bribery or reasoning work?

So why do you think that it will work with your customers?  People (adult people and little people)  want to hear stories.  They wanted to hear them when they were little children and they want to hear them now.  Its human psychology.  People need to hear stories to identify with you, to engage with you.  Stories wrap people in a cloak of empathy.  Once your tribe feels empathy, it become that much easier to sell them on your product or service (or why they should be going to bed RIGHT NOW)

I see it happening all the time on Twitter and Facebook.  I follow some true SME’s (Subject Matter Experts.) These people are constantly sharing invaluable information from and about their industry, their experience, their service.  Yet when I look at their tweet streams or their walls, what gets the most play?  Their  “stories”.  Getting stuck in the airport, having to choose between chocolate or butterscotch donuts, what their kids said to them, how their boyfriends proposed.  It’s their stories that people respond to.  It’s their stories that build their relationships.

So what is your story?

What is your company’s story?

What stories can you share to engage your tribe, so that they feel they know, like and trust you?

I’m not saying you need to throw away you informational articles.  Indeed – those are what will make you an SME or thought leader.

Don’t delete the benefits of doing business with you and your company.  People need to know WIIFM (what’s in it for me/them)

Don’t discard your features page.  People need to know what they are getting.

Don’t get rid of the bribes – I mean specials, deals, contests or sales.  These are still driving forces (Let’s face it – a promised extra scoop of ice cream on your next outing is going to work a lot better than “because I said so.”)

But add storytelling to your arsenal.

To create your story, answer some of these questions:

  • Why did you start your company?  (and no – it can’t be for the money – that in itself is not an engaging enough story)

  • What keeps you going?

  • What motivates you?

  • Who motivates you?

  • What happened one day that made you realize this is what you should be doing?

  • How is what you are doing changing lives?  Not only your own, but others?

  • What is a story about one of your clients or customers and how your product or service changed their lives?

  • Do you have any cute family stories about your business and your kids/spouse/family, etc?

Start weaving your stories into you elevator speeches, your presentations, your blogs, tweets and updates.  Test your stories with your friends and family – are they empathetically nodding along?  Laughing with you? Nodding solemnly?  Tell a story that engages your clients and you are half way there to making a sale.  You might need to wrap it up with a benefits list or a contest, but getting your tribe engaged is the first, and most important step.

And the easiest way to do that is through your story.

What’s your story?

About the Author: Viveka

Viveka is author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert”.
CEO of Linked Into Business, she also hosts the biggest LinkedIn chat on Twitter.  Forbes has listed her as a top social media influencer for three years running, and she has been cited in Ragan, CNN, Forbes, Mashable, Simple Living, Bloomberg, LinkedIn's Small Business Site and "The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn, The Miami Herald, Social Media Today and The Social Media Examiner!

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