When was the last time you sat down and read a story? Not an educational book, newsletter, or blog post like this one. An actual story. Stories aren’t just for kids, you know. They are one of the fundamental things that set the human species apart from the rest of the animal kingdom.
How do stories set us apart?
Stories hook us in by triggering our emotions and memories. Being a good storyteller is a very underrated skill to have. Sharing a good story can help you stand out from the crowd, be more memorable, connect with people on an emotional level, and even start an entire social movement.
Great marketers need to be great storytellers.
We recently hosted a storytelling workshop led by master storyteller Jeff Gadway, to learn how to construct and tell great stories. Jeff is the Co-founder of Galvanize, a network of marketing and communication experts who make it their mission to help you find your authentic voice, shape your narrative, and communicate your story.
Here are the three main takeaways I learned from Jeff’s storytelling workshop.
1. Your Story Isn’t About You (!!!)
I know, this came as a shocker to me too. You’re probably thinking well if my story isn’t about me then who the heck is it about? Your story needs to be about your customer.
Think about it, do you really like when companies talk about themselves all the time? Great, you won some awards I’ve never heard of for your agency— but how does that translate to how you’d work with me?
Your customer wants to know what your company can do for them and how your company can help them achieve their goals. Jeff’s advice is to take yourself out of the role as the protagonist, and centre your customer as the main character. You get to hold a supporting role, Jeff says, think Yoda or Glinda the Good Witch. Your product is the magic red shoes, your customer is Dorthy.
2. Lead with Purpose, Not with Product
We buy, partner with, and do business with people we feel are like us. The kinds of businesses who share our values. Let’s say for example, I suddenly have a late night craving for ice-cream. As a consumer I’d be more likely to purchase my ice-cream from a brand like Ben & Jerry’s, because I love supporting brands that give back to the community and help create positive social change –– these are values that are important to me.
This is why Jeff suggests that your brand narrative should reflect what you stand for. Purpose, mission, and values are important to humans, be sure to include them in the story that you tell. Leading with purpose will help you create a more genuine connection with your customer.
3. Be Authentic
Was Prince William really voted the most handsome bald man? I’m over here looking at Stanley Tucci and I don’t think so... As humans, we’re equipped with a natural lie detector— we see through bullshit easily. Your concocted “brand stories” will reek of inauthenticity if they don’t match a reality your customers share. That’s why Jeff’s final piece of advice was to be authentic in your storytelling. Authentic stories are the best way to connect with people on a genuine level and develop meaningful relationships.
A huge thank you goes out to Jeff Gadway for helping me become a better storyteller. If you would like to watch a replay of Jeff’s workshop. You can watch it here.