Attracting Customers: Good Storytelling Sells

At the risk of sparking a philosophical debate, let’s pose a question: Just what sets human beings apart from all other living things on the planet? Some would answer “a soul”, others might say “opposable thumbs.” As a writer, I prefer the explanation offered by my first professional mentor, a crusty old newspaper editor who truly did keep a bottle of Bourbon in his desk drawer: “the written word.”

The ability to tell a story, to share that story through external means with a broad audience, and the instinct to respond to good storytelling – those are defining aspects of the human condition. They are also incredibly powerful tools for businesses that know how to ply them deftly.

Think of it this way: “He (or she) who tells well, sells.”

Human beings respond on a visceral level to a good story. It’s in our genes; as a species, we’ve loved stories since the first cavemen swapped grunts around a fire. Today, our methods for sharing stories are much more high-tech, but the core of good storytelling, and why it works to attract customers, remains the same.

So what is the essence of a good digital marketing story?

  • Plot – Tell your story simply, clearly and concisely. Make sure you have a clear vision of what your story is before you start telling it.
  • Human interest – Whether it’s drama, humor or pathos, something in your story must speak to the audience’s collective heart. This is the part of the story that draws the audience in.
  • Action – Your story needs to move forward with action, and it also needs to make clear to the audience what action they should take after consuming your story. Action is what can help you close the deal with potential customers.

Every type of marketing is, in essence, aimed at telling a story – from a roadside billboard or display ad in a glossy magazine to digital marketing and social media. The Internet and digital marketing have made storytelling more powerful, flexible – and yes, challenging – than ever before in human history. It may be difficult to distill a complex message down to just 140 characters, but do it well and your tweet will be pure poetry that resonates with millions of people, including customers, around the world.

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