Steps to Writing a Credible Story That People Will Share, Again and Again

Marketing stories aren’t that different from any type of story that you read in childhood or that your parents told you. They all have some components that make them exciting, as well as a purpose, goal, and moral. Follow these steps below for the best result.

Keep Your Audience in Mind

All marketing starts with knowing your audience, as does all storytelling. Every author knows their target audience prior to writing the first line of any story. What does your audience want to do, be, know? What are their fears? Who do they love? Can you pick a single audience member and write up a persona to describe them down to their age, sex, favorite books, top three problems and so forth? If not, time to get to work researching your audience.

Collect & Share Data

One of the best ways to make your story stand out is to collect and share data. Capturing data and sharing it in an interesting way as part of your story can help add to the meaning of your story. Showing real numbers within the stories you craft can resonate with your audience in a way that truly gets results. If you share customer success stories for instance, including real numbers within those stories will really spark discussion and ignite your audience.

Select a Frame

This is where truly knowing and understanding your audience can come into play. Understanding how your audience uses words, and the feelings they evoke can make the difference between crafting a successful story or creating an actual disaster. Knowing the world view of your audience is imperative. Seth Godin in his blog and books has often discussed the idea that people already have their worldviews and you’re not going to change them. Therefore, for your marketing story to be successful, it needs to feed into what they already believe and think.

Choose Your Premise

Your premise is the angle of the story and the way you hook your reader in order to get your message across. It’s the entire point of your story. Your premise is to solve your audience’s problems with your product or service. Your subject, as well as your solution all, have a premise, and the entire story rests on the premise. Try writing down your premise in just one or two sentences before writing the entire story. You should be able to explain it easily. Think of the big Super Bowl Coke Commercial and the controversy it caused in some circles. The one where the characters are singing the national anthem in many languages.

The premise of the story was that we’re all one, and in this together as a melting pot — and of course, Coke brings us together. But, the question remains, if they chose the right audience (Super Bowl Watchers) for that particular commercial. Always check your premise and be sure it matches your intended audience.

Create Visual Representations

Nothing is more important today in marketing than visuals. Your marketing stories are too important to not include a visual element. Marketing stories are a great away to build relationships with your audience, give not only outsiders but insiders an entirely new way to view you as a company. Creating powerful visuals to go with your story is an essential part of ensuring that your story is told well.

Shape Your Story

The worst thing you can do is be boring. If you understand your audience you’ll have a lot more success shaping stories that resonate with them. All marketing material that you have helps to shape your entire story. From bios of those who work for you to bios of your customers to social media bios for your company, to blog posts and more — they all shape your story in some way. It’s up to you to ensure that you keep the same theme throughout all marketing materials including the marketing stories you create. Understanding and knowing your voice will help, as will understanding and knowing your audience. Building a solid story starts from day one so that you can express your business’s entire story from the ground up to your customers’ success stories today.

Get Feedback First

Before moving forward with marketing with stories it’s important that you seek feedback from others to ensure that you can get outside of your own bubble. Sometimes when we get so focused on something it’s hard to see it from the outside as the customer looking in. Ask some of your customers and colleagues for feedback on your marketing story so that you can make it better. You can also get some feedback before you even start by polling your audience on some of your ideas about stories. A simple poll such as “Would you rather learn about A or B” is a great way to figure out what your audience needs and wants.

If you follow these steps you’ll be successful in creating effective marketing stories that get great results. Next blog post we are going to talk about common mistakes made in writing your story to avoid.

What to Include in Your Stories

This blog post I’m going to talk to you about what to include in your stories so that when you set out to market with stories you can be effective. Every story has to include the same elements for it to work.

First, stories start with your understanding and knowing who your target audience is. If you don’t know that, you need to stop reading right now and do some research on who your audience is. You need to understand who you’re directing your story too. If you have an email list or a good following on social media, why not poll your audience to find out more about them before you attempt marketing with stories.

In general, every marketing story needs to let your audience know that you understand them, that they matter, that they’re not alone, that there is hope, and that their problems can be solved. If you can craft a story that covers those elements in a personal way, you’ll create a successful marketing campaign centered on that marketing story. A story like that will be shared, commented on, and get results.

Let’s spell this out: All stories need:

1. A Subject — This should be your audience. Find out who your target audience is, know what their dreams, hopes, and problems are and weave a story around them. You might even be able to find a customer who has a compelling story already about how they overcame something using your products or services or similar products or services.
2. A Goal — You must understand where your subject wants to end up. What are they seeking? Do they want to make more money, work from home, learn to do something, what exact outcome do they seek?
3. A Problem — If you know the goal, then you need to identify the reason your subject is having problems reaching their goal. Is it due to lack of action on their part? Is it due to lack of knowledge? What reason are they having issues reaching their goal? What roadblocks are in their way. This is typically the most emotional part of your story.
4. A Solution — Of course, you need to be able to show the solution exists to help your subject reach their goal and overcome their problem. The solution is either a product, a service, a mindset, a lesson, coaching, or whatever it is that is your specialty. You are the solution, and you must show that in the story.
5. A Moral — No story is ever complete without a moral. Essentially, it’s repeating the entire story in a more direct fashion pointing out the solution to the problems, and how simple it is to have if only they make that next step, which you also spell out very explicitly. This is where your call to action goes when marketing with stories.

All of this has to be told and written in a truthful manner to be effective. Your audience, if you’ve studied them, aren’t stupid. They know when someone is trying to fool them. Best to be honest and upfront from the start by telling realistic stories with reasonable results. Next post I’ll discuss the actual steps to writing a credible story that people will share, and that will get actual results.

Picture Credit via Unsplash: unsplash-logoHannah Olinger

What Storytelling is and is Not for Authors Marketing Their Book

As Annette Simmons once said, “If you wish to influence an individual or a group to embrace a particular value in their daily lives, tell them a compelling story.”

Storytelling is a powerful tool for marketing your business. However, be aware, I want to be crystal clear about what I am advocating and what I am not advocating. Marketing with stories is not licensed to lie, fabricate, or trick your audience. When you think of stories, instead of imagining fiction, or a used car salesman try to imagine instead the stories your Mom, Dad, or favorite uncle told you about their young life. Sure, most of the time the story was designed to keep you from making their mistakes, but they were true, honest, and actually did the job.

Marketing with stories isn’t that different. It’s about crafting realistic stories that impart the knowledge on your audience that they need to make a decision to solve their problems. It’s also about creating relatable content, surprising and delighting your audience, all while being realistic and truthful. It’s about letting your audience get to know you on a whole new level, breaking down boundaries, and creating brand loyalty with your audience that cannot be matched with other marketing methods.

You want your audience to laugh, cry or jump for joy that they’ve finally found what they need and your story should easily accomplish that. Your marketing stories can be the difference between your brand and other brands that promises two for one if you buy widget A. Your story can compel your audience to take the leap to solve their problems without any false sales tactics or emotional blackmail.

At its core, marketing with stories is about making a connection with your audience. After all, the stories you create are about them. That’s right, the stories you write will be about your audience and will address their concerns, their needs, their pain points, and how your product or service will fix those issues. Remember nothing has changed about basic marketing. It’s still about your audience, and it still benefits over features. As harsh as it may sound to you, no one cares about anything other than what’s in it for them, and how your product or service solves their problem. Price is far down on the list, as are the many features you are excited to tell them about.

Marketing with stories gives you a good way to make it about your audience, focusing on benefits over features by telling your audience’s story in a new, interesting and compelling way. By telling stories about your audience and customers you tell your audience exactly what they want to hear, and don’t make the mistake of telling them things they don’t want to hear. Think about it, when Uncle Bob tells the story about TPing his arch enemies house and getting arrested for vandalism remember, it’s wasn’t really about that.

It was about telling you what not to do and teaching you about the consequences that actions carry by sharing his story in hopes you could learn from his mistakes. But, the only way to get you to listen was to try to make the story humorous and exciting so you could listen to the end and get the moral of the story. Did you still get the message? Yes. Of course.

Every story you tell has to include some very specific elements for it to work. Next post I’m going to tell you what your stories need to include, and what they always need to have in order to get the results you want when marketing with stories.

Photo Credit: Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash