How To Lose Customers With Storytelling

Stories are a powerful communication tool. It’s proven for centuries. 

Research shows that while the average human brain spends 30% of its time daydreaming, it recalibrates to full focus whenever a narrative starts.

As a result, “storytelling” has become a buzzword in marketing. Though broadly speaking, most storytelling “experts” are either abusing the word or completely telling the wrong kind of story. Here’s why:

 

Who’s the hero of the story?

Every story has a character, aka the hero. Basically all stories are crafted whereby the hero journeys through all kinds of problems, and eventually wins the day.

Most businesses however, think that’s the story they should tell, especially the part where they become the superhero.

Wrong.

Pay attention the next time you watch a movie. The character of the story is usually the weakest person in the entire narrative 90% of the time. Generally speaking, they are filled with emotions, lack the confidence to realise their true potential, perhaps may even have an identity crisis they need to be saved from.

Here’s the paradigm shift: Customers don’t care about your story, even if you’re a superhero, and regardless of how dramatic it is.

They actually only care about their own story. And without you realising it at first, you are an important part of their story. Infact, they need you to help them complete it.

So, next time you contemplate producing a 3-minute video on your company history, consider that a water of time. It’s more to do with one’s pride than getting customers through effective marketing. No one cares.

The minute you position your business as the hero of the story, customers check out and you lose money.

 

“Authority” is the worst thing you can establish in marketing

Here’s another commonly mistaken marketing strategy – building authority.

Common examples we see include starting a personal brand, documenting one’s business daily on Instagram Stories, or getting on Facebook Live everyday to build a following.

Honestly, it drives us crazy.

The issue is not what platform you use or how to build content; it’s this whole concept about authority. Back to storytelling; to position your business well, customers are more interested in how you can be part of their story, rather than watching your own heroic quest. In other words, be the guide – become Dumbledore instead of Harry Potter.

One step further, what people are looking for from a guide immediately is empathy instead of authority.

Here’s the question customers are asking in their head – Do you really understand my problems so you can work with me, or you are such an authoritative figure where you will just be forcing your products and services at me and boss me around?

That’s why people hate politicians and religious leaders; they are too busy showing their achievements in the name of public service.

Back to marketing.

Now I know what you’re asking – what about our “capability statement”? People need to know what we can do best right? Yes, a sense of authority does need to be in your marketing, but not to the level of you wanting to showcase all your qualifications, portfolios and work examples.

People don’t pick a dentist or lawyer based on their wall of certificates, right?

Practically speaking, the best way to show your authority as a business is to simply show clients testimonies and logos of notable brands you have worked with:

Let other people do the bragging about your greatness.

 

Play the guide, not the hero

As mentioned, companies who are smart and humble enough to play the guide, and let their customers be the hero, are winning businesses left right and centre.

This second character that gets introduced into the story is the one who helps the hero to win the day. They are strong, wise, experienced, seen it all, done it all. It’s a much better position for your company to be in than the hero, who is weak and struggling.

Think Dumbledore from Harry Potter, Haymitch from Hunger Games, Lionel Logue from The King’s Speech.

Now go to your website, your Facebook videos and your pull up banners, and question yourself: Are you positioning yourself as a guide or the hero?

Conclusion

To debunk this marketing myth about “storytelling”, the question is not how to tell your story, but how to enter into your customers’ stories. And you do this as the guide to help the hero get what they want.

It’s such a simple concept, but for some extremely difficult to implement, because they are so used to playing the hero.

But if you’re after a major shift to your marketing mindset and ultimately, SALES, stop playing the hero. Be the guide, show empathy before authority, and watch your customers get attracted to you like a magnet, and start enjoying some great results in your marketing.

Every month, we meet many business owners in our Marketing Makeover Workshop who have come to the realisation that they have been playing the hero all along, most of which were doing so without even realising it.

Customers want to be listened to, be understood, and most importantly, be guided. They don’t want to be sold to. Sign up to our upcoming workshop in January and revolutionise your marketing today.

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