Storytelling. We’ve all heard about the power of telling stories in your business.

But it can all be a bit of a mystery how the paloozas to use them to actually help you sell stuff. And where the heck are these stories anyway? Are they all hiding under a rock somewhere dancing to Harry Styles and having a party? Because most of the time it sure doesn’t feel like you have anything special to say, and if you do – it’s a mystery as to how it can actually help you sell more.

Yes. Telling stories has the added Brucie-bonus of making you memorable.

If you listen to any memory expert, they all tell you the easiest way to remember something is to have a story associated with it. Think about learning the colours of the rainbow for example. Remembering: ‘Richard of York gave battle in vain,’ helps you remember the different colours and the order they are in. Our human brains really respond to storytelling. It helps us connect to certain things. For example, if we hear that a brand is really into the same kind of things that we’re interested in, we’re going to be pricking our ears up and hearing more and feeling like we want to do business with that brand or that company. Just because they stand for the same things we do, and we want to be part of their community.

And it’s free.

I get it. I find it hard to tell stories about myself too. None of us think we have a story worth telling, probably because the detail of our own lives seem so mundane. You’re thinking, “It’s just my life! It’s boring!” But to someone else, it can be a fascinating insight into the story behind your business. People love being nosy. It really is a tool you should be using throughout your marketing copy because it really helps to show your personality and connect you to your audience in an authentic and memorable way.

But do you want to know the best thing about storytelling? Although it’s really effective, it doesn’t cost loads of money. In fact, it’s completely free! All you’ve got to do is remember stories and tell them.

I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve heard about how powerful storytelling is. But you might still be sitting there thinking, “Yeah I get about the power of storytelling, but don’t you have to be some fancy writer or expert to be able to write stories? How do I, as a small business owner who’s not that confident in writing, not that confident in my marketing, how do I use storytelling effectively in my business?”

This is what I hear from a loads of business owners. We hear so much in the media, in Instagram, in emails from marketeers telling us storytelling, storytelling, storytelling is the key, but nobody is stopping to tell us how to do it. So, in this blog post I’m going to make it easy for you and show you how to sell more and promote your business using your stories.

There are three types of stories you can easily be telling in your marketing content right now.

Telling these three types of stories will help you ultimately sell more in your business. And its going to do it in a way that’s authentic to you and does not feel icky or horrible or salesy in any way. Sound good? Let’s dig in to find out more about these three story-types.

Desirability stories

The first type of story I’m going to talk about are stories that shows desirability. This type of story, builds demand for your products and for your business. So, imagine you sell pens. There are loads of other people out there that sell pens too. What is it about your pens that makes them so different? Maybe they were carved by hand from a sustainable tree source. Maybe they were decorated and painted by a famous artist?

To create a strong brand around your product and business there should be a story about your products you can tell to make them more desirable, memorable and stand out from the other products in your area. Maybe you use a special type of yarn in your hand-knitted sweaters that is super-soft and really breathable?

That’s a desirability story. It makes people want your stuff more than other people’s stuff. To find a desirability story, just ask yourself, “Why makes my product/service so special?” and, “Why do my customers choose me?” And tell the story about how those differences were created.

You may have spotted a flaw, here.

And that is – not everyone will want a pen made from sustainable forests or infused with a magical unicorn tail. And actually, this is kind of the point. A desirability story only has to prove desirability to YOUR customers. You need to tell a story that makes your products/services desirable to your people. That’s all. Don’t worry (or even think) about anyone else. If they’re not your paying customers, then they don’t matter.

Don’t worry about it too much, just find and think of stories behind your products and services, that make them what they are, and those stories should appeal to your ideal customers. But don’t stop there. Tell them stories about your whole business, your brand. Why do people want to do business with you? Why should they do business with you over other people? Why should they pick you? What’s unique about you? What’s interesting about you? What makes your business, your brand, your products, your services, more desirable than other people’s? Find stories about these things and use them in your social media, on your website, and in interviews. You could even weave it into conversations at events or jump on a table in Starbucks, with a loudhailer (just don’t get yourself arrested or anything).

Connection stories

The second type of story we’re going to talk about are stories that build connection. This blows the doors wide open with things you could talk to your customers about . This means you could potentially talk about anything in your content*-* as long as it connects with your customer. I’ve talked about this on my email courses and it’s been mind blowing for people, because they suddenly realise they can talk about anything they want in their emails – as long as it connects with their brand.

It doesn’t just have to be, “Here’s a product, here’s a product, here’s a product.” And it shouldn’t be like that. You must be making your customers feel really uncomfortable if you’re just always constantly selling at them. Should you be selling to them? Yes, but there’s nicer ways to sell to them than just saying, “Here’s a product, here’s a product, here’s a product.” And that’s to build connection with connection stories.

So what’s a connection story?

A connection story is anything that helps you build a connection with your potential customers. A brilliant way to find connection stories is to have brand themes. So those brand themes might not be directly related to your product. But they should be something that connects you to your customers. So for example, if you were someone that made beautiful pots and sold them, it might be that you also, enjoy walking your dog, (let’s call him Dave) through the Devonshire countryside. And that actually really connects with your brand, because your pots are really inspired by the Devonshire countryside, too.

In that case, one of the themes you could write about in your emails is your dog walks. Which actually helps connect you with your customers because you know that a lot of your customers like going on dog walks through the countryside too. That’s an example of how a connection story doesn’t have to be specifically about your product. So, in your email you could just tell a funny story where Dave ran off into the woods and did something crazy or whatever. That’s a great example of a connection story.

I often talk about how I love pancakes and Tunnock’s Teacakes.

Why do I do that? Am I hoping for a sponsorship deal with Tunnock’s? Ummm, no (although that might be nice, if you’re listening, lovely Tunnock’s people). I simply do it because it shows my personality, makes me more real to other people, and helps encourage people to do business with me as they feel a connection.

Connection stories show you’re a real individual person people can buy from or work with. Not just a computer, not just a faceless brand. The reason so many people buy and shop with small brands and work with independent business owners is because they want to work with a real person. So, show them you’re a real person by writing stories about your everyday life that you think will appeal to them, in your emails and in your social media content.

Now, you want to keep it a little bit focused here. There’s no point in talking about everything, and that’s where having a handful of brand themes comes in. But if you have some focused topics that you regularly talk about, that can really bring consistency to your marketing. And before you know it, you become known as the pancake lady or the macaroni cheese guy, or whoever. It makes you memorable.

Authority stories

And the third type of story is also really, really important and that’s authority stories. These are stories that build authority and therefore, build trust with your audience. We all know that when we buy anything online, (especially if we don’t know the person) that the first thing we do is check out their reviews. We look at: is this person trustworthy? What’s their background? Are the products going to be good quality? Is the customer service going to be good enough that I’m going to be sent this in good condition and a good timeframe?

Reviews are really important. Things like Google reviews, Feefo, Etsy reviews etc are really helpful, but they’re not the only ways of showing authority and building trust. Another really useful way is telling stories to show that authority.

Here are some things you can tell stories about to give you authority and help your audience to trust you more:

  • Have you exhibited at any prestigious events? Or fairs that are highly regarded?
  • Have you won any awards?
  • Have you worked with people that are well-known for being high-quality or well-regarded in your industry?
  • Have you been stocked in any high-end shops?
  • Have you written a book?
  • Are you the go-to expert in your industry?

Are there stories about any of those things you can tell people? It doesn’t even have to be that current. Imagine you went to a high-end fair, for example, Goldsmith’s Fair, a few years ago. You could still throw back to it in one of your emails and say, “Oh, Goldsmith’s Fair’s on at the moment, I remember I was there a few years ago, it was amazing.” Straight away, you’re letting people know that your work is of a high enough standard and quality to be accepted for Goldsmith’s Fair – in a really nice, non-pushy and authentic way.

Authority stories are a really powerful way to prove to people you’re the real deal.

Telling these stories proves to your audience you know what you’re talking about, and you’re a reliable, trustworthy and quality business. Because these stories, they kind of seep in and people absorb this information without even really thinking about it. From there on in, they’ll associate you with Goldsmith’s. So when they hear about Goldsmith’s, they’ll associate you with it. Or if you’ve been stocked in Harrods, they’ll associate you when they think of Harrods. They kind of, it’s like you almost join up as a little connection in their brain to these other things they already think are really cool and trustworthy, without them even thinking about it.

Being connected with other well-established brands/people or organisations can be a really powerful way to establish your authority and encourage trust in you.

But there are other ways too:

  • Talk about your testimonials or customers you’ve worked with or created amazing products for. A really obvious example of this is wedding ring designers. If a designer created an engagement ring for someone and they proposed, they could ask permission to share their proposal story. Customers are usually happy to oblige, as it’s a special moment for them and it makes them feel great. And talking about that engagement story on social media shows someone has put their trust into you to make their engagement ring – a really important piece of jewellery. And without even thinking about it, your potential customers see this and think, “Oh yeah, that person’s really trustworthy. They’re actually being commissioned to make an engagement ring.”
  • Show ‘behind the scenes’. Because if you show yourself actually making a product, it shows you know what you’re talking about. It shows you know all the techniques and it proves you’re a quality craftsman or artisan, because people can see the evidence with their own eyes. Yes, it’s really interesting and people love being nosy too. But the benefits of showing behind-the-scenes footage goes deeper than you may think – it shows them you’re an expert without them even having to think about it.

What do you do with these stories?

So, now you know what a story is, and the three types of stories you need to tell – how do you put them in your everyday marketing content? Firstly, you need to delve into your brain and collate them all. I find the best way is to do a massive brainstorm. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and set out three columns on a piece of paper: authority; connection; desirability. And write down every story you can think of in these three categories.

Then, use these stories as a starting point for your story bank (basically just a fancy-Nancy way of saying a Word doc where you write bullet points of your best stories. You won’t have them all straight away. Some of them will probably come to you in the shower, where all the best idea live. Just make a note of them and add them in when you can.

Over time you’ll build up that bank of stories and guess what: you can use these stories again and again. Yes! You **really can repeat the same stories. Some of the most successful businesses I know tell the same stories over and over again, which actually gives them consistency in their brand – and adds to the trust factor. You can use the same stories different platforms. And if you leave enough time you can tell them again on the same platform, maybe with a different spin on them.

Here are some great places to tell your stories:

  • Social media posts (not just in your text, but also think about how you can tell the story through a photo, a video, through audio (if you use it) – get creative.
  • Social media profile – there’s not much room, but challenge yourself to see if you can tell an important story in your bio, or your static imagery.
  • Your website – you should definitely be telling desirability, connection and authority stories on your home page and about page. Again, think about also using imagery and maybe even video to get your stories across in creative ways.
  • Your blog – Weave in all three types of stories into your posts and images.
  • Email – This is the perfect place to tell stories and help you sell in a non-icky way.
  • PR/media coverage – Tell your stories to a wider audience! (Plus you’ll get added trust points if you get your story in a well-respected media source).

You’re worried you don’t have enough stories?

Chill. You don’t need that many stories in your story bank. You just need some really strong ones. So go away, set up your story bank, have a think about those stories and what they might be, and start using them.

The first step is to find them all, and then get confident by starting to use them wherever and whenever you can. Don’t worry about perfection – it doesn’t exist! And you only get good at this stuff when you start. Were you good at running before you’d even learned to walk? I don’t think so. Give yourself the gift of grace and patience in honing your newly-acquired top storytelling skills. You can do it.

Start small by creating your own story bank and using your stories in your content a bit at a time. Or maybe you might want to challenge yourself to telling a story in every piece of content? Whatever works for you. Notice the difference adding in a story makes to your content – but also how connected you feel to your customers and your sales.

If you need any help with finding and telling your stories, just drop me a line here to find out about story coaching or check out my ‘Stories that Sell’ Workshop here.

Stories that Sell virtual workshop