5 Rules for Great Storytelling: Are you just selling or are you already telling?

Forget highly touted marketing and sales strategies. The most sustainable and effective way to sell your product or service is:

A good story and the ability (storytelling) to tell it.

A good story is a simple connection of cause and effect and thus it corresponds to the natural thinking pattern of the human brain. Accordingly, it is easier to capture the attention of the audience in a meeting, pitch, sales talk or presentation by means of metaphors and exciting stories than with a string of PowerPoint slides on which a lot of text and many numbers (i.e. facts) are noted.

Stories awaken longings

Whether in antiquity (rhetoric conveying knowledge), in the Middle Ages (e.g. Minnesang) or in modern times (e.g. folk tales) – stories have always accompanied people. Telling a good story has always been considered a high art. Not only the rhetorical finesse played a decisive role, but also the message that was to be conveyed by means of the narrative.

So when we talk about “storytelling” today, this term in its original meaning does not mean the terse invention of a story to market a product or service. Rather, it is about the storyteller’s skill in using a story to arouse interest, create trust, and move something in the listener’s thinking and feeling so that identification and longing can be created.

Identification is the decisive factor here, which subsequently favors the actual aspect of selling.

We humans live in resonance with other people and our environment from the beginning of our birth. Through identification and differentiation, our being and personality continue to develop and this is no different in adulthood.

In resonance with the world

So when we discover an article or a homepage that has caught our attention through a picture or a title, we look at the author’s profile at the same time. We do this not only for voyeuristic reasons, but also out of a primal instinct to want to know if we resonate with the storyteller’s ideas, thoughts, and history.

But which indicators in the context of storytelling are actually crucial to creating a rhetorical value chain that will ultimately persuade your audience to buy your product or service?

Today, I’m sharing with you the 5 rules for great storytelling:

1. create identification

I mentioned it at the beginning of my article: Acknowledging your story (and thus your person) leads to identification with your product/service portfolio. So make sure your story has some “generality” to it. It is not about distorting your experiences or even lying about them. Rather, it’s about focusing on an aspect of your story that you know could have happened in hundreds of other cases in the same or similar way. By doing so, you create that famous moment, which you surely have already experienced yourself. It is the moment when you can fully relate to the events of a story.

2. turn an 08/15 into a hero/heroine story

Make sure that your story always has a “happy ending” and this is usually in the form of your appearance today as well as your experience today. It’s simple: without the individual events in your history, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Storytelling is about authentically and honestly revealing a part of your personality. If you want to make the step from identification to sales, you can only do this by showing others how you have come to a solution from a supposed predicament (low phase in your professional or private life). So the feeling you want to convey should be a positive one, because this inspires hope and confidence. In many cases, such feelings are what make a sales process possible in the first place.

3. let others become part of your story

Nobody likes lonely heroines/heroes. When someone tells us how she/he became a millionaire, we register this development, but we also feel a distance between the teller and ourselves. Sometimes such stories even arouse resistance and bad feelings in the listeners. Once you have created identification and named your hero/heroine story (including the factors that make it one), you need to build the bridge to your readership. Let them share in your successes and experience with a certain closeness. Give gifts, offer free initial interviews, build an online community – Whatever path you choose, take the time to let others become heroines and heroes of your story. You are thus actively passing on part of your story.

4. focus on the emotions, not on the sale

Emotions in storytelling

You’ve probably heard of successful influencer marketing. Influencers belong in the master class of storytellers. If you take a closer look at these personalities, you’ll notice relatively quickly that the actual product placements come relatively late. Influencers are primarily concerned with fulfilling points 1-3 in order to build up a basis of trust. You share your everyday life, show how multi-faceted your personality is and give your followers the opportunity to get close to you (and thus your success story) through surveys, competitions, mentions and direct communication and thus become a part of it. One can think what one likes of this new “professional genre”, but one should acknowledge that the art of storytelling is well understood and effectively applied by these individuals. Here it is crucial that feelings are always in the foreground and not the sale of a product. So don’t make the mistake of convincing your community about you on a trusting basis by means of storytelling, only to then annoy them permanently with your product and service offers.

5. only life writes a good story

Here we come to one of the most important points. You can implement rules 1-4 as intensively and as well as you like, but if this point is not correct, then all the effort was in vain. What I mean by that is: Be authentic and honest. Of course, everything on the Internet is somewhat exaggerated, glossed over and presented “extremely positively” in almost every opportunity. This is mainly due to the desire of consumers to be able to turn to pure entertainment and “simple topics,” at least in the virtual realm. In storytelling, conveying positive feelings should not be underestimated either, but a good story always includes light and shade. Dare to take the step and write also about critical topics, about sad feelings and about deficits you notice. No one has to put on a smile 24/7, because this can also have the opposite effect on your community and the identification factor is lost, because listeners and readers look to you for more honesty and “mistakes”.

My tip: Don’t try to come up with new and exciting stories all the time, instead look around a bit. What have friends, family, colleagues experienced? What have you learned in a quiet moment about yourself, about others, or about life? You encounter hundreds of stories every day. Consider yourself like a collector with a giant notebook and write them down. Because even the everyday can have something magical, inspiring or simply wonderfully unexciting about it – and we all love stories like that.

Inquired about storytelling

What was the last story that moved you? What do you consider to be an essential part of a good story? Share your experiences with the community and let’s become good storytellers/storytellers together!

A day full of insights and stories

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