Nine Objections to Story-led Marketing

Stories help your business stand out from the rest.  You need to find, build and share stories.  Stories matter, so take them seriously.  Chris Sissons shares some top tips to telling your marketing story online.

Allow me to show you what I mean.  Here are nine objections to using stories.  I deliberately chose something trivial that happened the day before the first draft of this article, to illustrate what is possible.   

Find Stories

We are surrounded by stories.  Mostly we don’t notice them and when asked, say we haven’t got any.  Here are three objections to finding stories.

I Don’t Have Any

Really?  Every day, we have experiences that make great stories.  Why don’t we notice them?  Yesterday, I returned home to find several men carrying planks and scaffolding down my passage.  They were cutting down an enormous conifer in my neighbour’s garden.  It’s a major change to the view from my window and I had wondered what would happen should it ever blow over.  So, I’m a little sad and a little relieved.  This morning 5 cats invaded my garden.  Did they live in the tree?

My Stories Are Dull

Most everyday material is dull.  That’s normal.  The creative act is to take dull events and transform them into gold.  With an eye for stories, everything has potential.  What can I do with the story of the tree and the cats?  I could talk about my relationship with my house, my neighbours, cats, trees.  Should I be glad a Leylandii has died?  Or sad a tree has gone?

Why Can’t I Simply Teach?

You can!  Go ahead and teach without stories but teaching without stories is dull.  People may find your writing helpful but soon get bored.  Nothing stands out.  Five cats who live in a tree, might just stick in your mind.  I could use this image to teach about the dangers of uncontrolled Leylandii or the importance of trees for the environment.  Instead, they’re helping me explain story-led marketing.

Build Stories

Raw material, plucked from your life and served cold is never palatable.  Don’t use stories without preparing them.    

Not Relevant to the Reader

The reader wants facts, they’re not interested in your life story.  You might not be interested in my musings about a tree and some cats, but perhaps you are interested in what I do with the story.  It is the work I put into the story that makes it relevant.  At the start of this article, I had no idea what to do with a tree and 5 cats.  I knew I wanted to show how any raw material can build into a relevant story.

Why Capture and Hold Attention?

Most people know stories capture and hold attention.  I hold your attention because you want to know what I do next with the cats in a tree.  It’s ironic because I completed the story several paragraphs ago!  Except that’s not true because the story has nothing to do with a tree and five cats.  I hold your attention, but what for?

Can’t Communicate Knowledge

The real heavy lifting stories do is to communicate knowledge.  They do this in two ways.  The story itself communicates or the story segues into teaching.  The five cats in my garden know nothing of marketing or storytelling.  Watch them all day, you’ll not learn a thing.  But they help me communicate with you.  How do they do that?

Share Stories

There is little point in a story if you don’t share it.  And if you are serious about stories, you must work out how to share them.  There is a world of difference between stories spoken to an audience or conveyed in a sequence of emails.

Why Publish?

Deciding to use a story is a big step.  Am I going to publish this story about 5 cats who lived in a tree and still play in my garden, even though they have lost their home?  Am I going to publish this post about 9 objections marketers make to storytelling? 

Which Ones?  Do I Tell This One?

Here’s a real dilemma.  Some stories are too painful to share.  Then don’t share them, there are plenty more stories.  But there are people who need to hear this story, they need someone with courage to share something known for years and never spoken.  Never make the mistake of thinking storytelling is easy!  Other stories may be too whimsical to share!  Will anyone really benefit from my story of 5 cats in a tree?  Does anyone need to hear it?

Which Media?

I could photograph the 5 cats.  A photo would make this story more effective on social media.  Instead, I’m entrusting this blog post to Rob Taylor, who has offered this opportunity.  It could be a talk, or 9 emails or posts in a Facebook group or …  One day, it may be some or all of these, especially if someone says “Chris, I loved your blog post about 5 cats in a tree!”

The Workshop

In three hours, we can help you find, build and share a list of stories to help your business come alive.  The workshop’s on 9 April, 9.30 – 12.30pm.  I’m Chris Sissons, local marketing coach and jointly leading the workshop with Carmel Page, performance storyteller.  Go here to register for How to Tell Your Marketing Stories Online before the early bird offer runs out!  

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