3 Things you have to get right when selling with stories.

Selling with a good story

Recently I’ve been seeing a surge in the number of companies jumping on the “story” bandwagon.

A few days ago I was traveling back from the UK. At the airport I saw three references to story. One on a poster, one in a duty-free flier that was thrust into my hand just after I got through security, and the one you see in the photo above, on the pages of an in-flight magazine.

All mention story, but not one of them actually told a story.

It’s as if the writers believed that just using the word “story” would make some kind of difference.

It doesn’t.

If you want to tap into the true power of storytelling in your marketing, you have to actually tell and share a real story.

And to give your story power, it has to get three things right…

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Can a good business story be fictional?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This question is from Julia, who took my course on Selling With Stories.

She asks, “You say a business story has to be true. But can’t a good fictional story be used to teach a valuable business lesson?”

Ouch… Julia, you’re right. You got me.

As you say, I have said that a business story should be true. And I say that to discourage people from making up stories that are obviously false and manipulative.

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Every good business story needs a leaping zebra.

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

Great question from Stephan, who took my course on Selling With Stories.

“For business communications, is it enough just to describe something that has happened? Is that a story? If told well, does a description of something that happened at work qualify as a story? I guess I’m not quite clear on what a business story actually is!”

Thank you Stephan. That’s a terrific question.

Let me try to answer you with some examples.

Here’s a description of an event…

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When marketing stories are false and manipulative.

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

Martin emailed me and said.

“Nick, I have been reading your work for years and have a lot of respect for what you do. But stories? Almost every marketing story I read feels totally fake and manipulative. What gives?”

Fair enough. (I’m guessing he hasn’t taken my course on Selling with Stories.)

In part, I agree. Although I think Martin overstates things when he talks about EVERY marketing story being fake or manipulative. But I do get his point.

The two kinds of false stories that irritate me the most are…

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Can I use stories to sell my own services as a freelancer?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This is a question from Colin who has recently completed my course on Selling with Stories.

He asks, “You talk a lot about using stories as a way to help companies connect with their customers and prospects. But how about us freelancers? Can we use stories too, to sell our own services?”

Absolutely you can.

And if I failed to address this in the course, that’s an oversight on my part.

I use stories myself.

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Use simple anecdotes as a tool to sell your clients on the power of stories.

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This is about collecting small stories or anecdotes, and then using them as a way to sell your clients or colleagues on the power of stories in marketing.

So… imagine you are trying to pitch a group of marketers on your idea for an upcoming campaign.

You want to use the company’s origin story. But first you have to persuade the marketing group this is a good idea.

Once again… stories to the rescue.

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