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Tapping Into the Power of Storytelling

We are captivated by people who speak with energy and emotion. We get caught up in their passion and sometimes even find ourselves totally immersed in topics we thought we had no interest in.

Welcome to the art of storytelling. Storytelling places your message in the hearts and minds of the people you are talking to. It can impact lives, change minds, and create new attitudes and behaviors. 

In marketing, stories build a bridge between your brand and your audience. They can powerfully illustrate what you do, who you do it for, why you do it and why it matters in relatable, memorable terms.

Here is the reason. We remember stories more than we remember hard, cold facts because of the emotions they stir in us. Our ability to share relevant, compelling stories earns us the right to keep talking.

Because everyone has their own worldview – a price they are willing to pay, an amount of time they are willing to invest, words they are willing to hear – it is critical to ask yourself the following questions when choosing which of your stories to tell:

·     Is this deserving of the attention I seek? Attention is scarce these days.
·     Does this meet the self-interest of the listener? People listen when what you share aligns with their needs, priorities, values and situations.
·     Am I connecting with them in the language they best understand? People want to see and hear themselves in your stories.

A key point to remember . . . clients love to hear how you have successfully handled work for other clients. They are hiring you for your experience, not your expertise!

Let’s get started. The following formula leads to a well-structured story that helps you tell it quickly, makes it easy for you to remember it as you tell it, and distinguishes you for the way you think and the actions you take. One-two sentences for each of the three sections will do it:

Situation:
This is the backstory. What was the set of circumstances with which you dealt or, the problem that you solved? 

Action:
This is about how you thought through the problem. What steps did you take to solve this challenge, or how did you overcome the roadblocks? What about your approach, treatment of the issue, and/or perspective distinguishes you from your competition? 

Result:
This is where you show the tangible results of your work. How were things better off for your client? What did success look like for your client? The Result should be as quantifiable and measurable as possible. Details here help to show the value of your work.

In working with lawyers and law firms, I have seen clients use this formula quite successfully. Once you have either researched the folks you will be talking to or, in conversation, have asked the right open-ended questions, you will know which stories relate to their problem and how best to position yourself as the experienced solution. 

Recommendations:

·     Build an inventory of relatable situations that show uniqueness, success for your clients, and distinguishing attributes and subject-matter knowledge that set you apart using this three-part structure – Situation; Action; Result.
·     Rehearse your stories so they flow spontaneously, quickly, compellingly and convincingly. Do not be afraid to use energy and emotion. They help a lot!
·     Be prepared to expand further if asked. Now, you will know you have succeeded in engaging your listener because they want more. 

Storytelling is not inventing a story. In fact, the very reason why your business exists, why you have developed products and services and why you do what you do is filled with stories. People will know if you are telling someone else’s story or have memorized a story. Be true to yourself. Find your own voice.

Once you have experienced the power of storytelling, you will know that you have created something more compelling than just selling a product or service. You will have placed your brand in the hearts and minds of the people you want to be talking to. You will have made a special and productive connection!