Walter has lung cancer. He is a depressed, scared, and desperate high school chemistry teacher. If he dies, he worries his wife and kids won’t have enough money to live a comfortable life. What does Walter do? He decides to use his chemistry skills to cook and sell crystal meth in order to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. He leverages a former student to assist in this endeavor and chaos ensues.
Intriguing story, right? The story above is the plot of Breaking Bad, one of the most acclaimed television series of all time. The concept immediately pulls the viewer in with incredible plot twists and character developments. It’s hard to stop watching and as each episode comes to an end, you immediately want more. But you’re not reading this to get a synopsis of Breaking Bad, you want to reach new customers with your own story. And not just reach them, but tell a story that will resonate and make them want to learn more about you and your business.
Humans are inherently drawn to stories. Psychologists and neurologists have performed numerous studies proving that stories can actually change the brain. Stories are more memorable than simple facts or statements because they not only state facts, but they trigger emotions. When people feel something, they are much more likely to remember. Think back to your favorite elementary teacher. You probably don’t remember a lot of what they taught you but I bet you remember how they made you feel.
Great authors, musicians, and movie writers are masters at it. Politicians describe themselves as the hero to our problems and paint their opposition as the villain in every campaign. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to sell a product, service, or idea. It’s why Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media platforms have options to create and add to your story on their social media pages.
So, how do you make your customers care about your story? To start, what is it about you or your company that will make customers feel something? Customers are more likely to engage with and do business with those they feel a connection. How can you connect with your customers?
Your story of taking the risk to move from your country and set out on a new journey already sets you apart. Your bold move to try something new and your life experiences are two ways that many people will be drawn towards you. But how does that connect to your products or services? What else makes your story compelling and how can you use that message to draw customers in? Understanding your story and how it relates to your customer is an important first step in being able to clearly articulate why people should care about what you have to say. Here are a few essential questions to ask yourself or team to get started:
What obstacles do you help your customers overcome?
What value do you offer?
What’s in it for your customers?
What truly sets you apart from competition (other than your product/service)?
One warning about the above questions: Don’t be generic! Keep asking yourself ‘why?’ until you drill down into the details. Saying, “We offer good service,” as part of your value statement is the lamest value you can share. Good service is expected. It doesn’t set you apart. What is it about your service that is so special? How is your service different from everyone else’s? This is the type of detail you want included in your story.
Final say: Your story should be ever evolving. A good story and brand evolves with the business and its customers. Once you define your story, work to include your customers in it. Take inventory regularly by talking with customers to understand the value you provide to them. As an entrepreneur, your story will take twists and turns that you likely can’t foresee today. Be accepting to that. It’s all part of the adventure, and ultimately, what makes a great story.
About Elizabeth Knight: Elizabeth is the leader of a creative group of passionate people who live and breathe marketing, social media, and public relations for a midwest-based marketing and public relations agency called Aplomb PR. She assists small businesses, city governments, and universities in refining their messages and then delivering those messages to the people who need to hear them. Her motto: If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.