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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For a me-too business, stories can be the great differentiator.

Undifferentiated suits

I have this dream.

My new client has a product or service with an amazing point of difference.

There is something unique about it. It has something none of its competitors possess. It’s amazing. It’s incredible.

Oh joy!

And then I wake up.

It’s incredibly rare that we have the opportunity to work on promoting a product or service that is significantly different from its competitors.

Mostly we have to work with very minor points of difference. Sometimes there is no point of difference at all.

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If you can’t find a story to tell… borrow, steal or create one.

 

Stories in books

A while back I wrote a post about how selling is giving way to storytelling.

The thing is, “selling at people” just isn’t a good fit online. Nobody wants to be interrupted and sold at when they’re looking at their tablet or smartphone. That’s why tens of millions of people use adblockers.

Soo… if the traditional, hard-nosed sales approach is no longer welcome, what can marketers do?

First off, they can get serious about content marketing.

The delivery of great content, across all devices, will do about 80% of the heavy lifting when it comes to getting prospects ready to make a purchase.

Just because people don’t want to be exposed to hard-hitting sales pitches doesn’t mean they’re not interested in reading or viewing great content related to your products or services. They are.

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If you want people to remember something, tell them a story.

The story of Noah's Ark

A few months back I wrote about how telling stories can influence people’s feelings.

In fact, writers of all stripes have been using stories to tap into people’s emotions for centuries.

Well… it turns out that as well as evoking strong emotions, stories are also a powerful tool to help us remember things.

A few days ago I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show podcast. His guest was Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of Freakonomics.

In response to a question about the power of stories, Stephen came up with some interesting numbers.

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