Ditch boring pitches and presentations. If you want to connect with your audience and keep your team and clients engaged, try applying a storytelling framework. While storytelling has become popular in advertising and sales, it can applied to many different types of communication.
Today, people have low attention spans and high expectations, which makes presenting even more challenging. As a speaker, you often have a short amount of time to communicate your message in a catchy way.
So, whether you’re presenting to three senior staff or a crowd of 400, the question remains: How do you keep them engrossed from beginning to end?
The answer? Stories!
According to one study, 79% of people report that they want brands to tell more of a story, but they also say that it needs to be told in a way that is memorable and keeps the audience on their toes.
We told you…high expectations.
Stories are the most powerful tool in the world when your goal is to captivate the human brain. When you learn to use stories in your brand’s communication, your customers will finally pay attention to what you are saying and become more involved with your offering.
Believe it or not, 95% of consumer decision making behaviour is based on our subconscious, such as our emotional and irrational behaviour. So, if you construct your story with the purpose of creating an emotional connection, building trust and creating meaning for your audience, they will likely feel more engaged with your business as a result.
While often subconscious, this emotional connection can lead to increased sales, referrals, and long term customer loyalty.
Why? Because as humans, we have an innate desire to feel understood. So even when we are exposed to thousands of advertisements every day, when a business empathises with us and identifies our needs,
Keen to get your storyteller on? Keep reading to learn about our favourite seven step structure, proven to engage and inspire your audience, giving you and your company a competitive edge.
Step #1: Hero
Every story begins with a character who wants something – a lover, peace, fame, power, money, etc. – take your pick.
In movies, screenwriters identify the hero at the start of the movie and within minutes the audience understands who they are and what they want. If the audience doesn’t know who the hero is, that movie will get very confusing, very fast. We need to feel a connection to them, so providing context on the character is key!
As a business, your hero is your audience. So they should be able to relate to themselves pretty easily, right? The question is, how do you relay that you understand their needs and position them as the centre of your story without sounding like you’re a Walt Disney wannabe?
What’s more – most companies just talk about themselves from the start. When you immediately launch into talking about what makes you so great, people tune out.
Start by identifying your audience. This creates the foundation for the connection you need to entice them and connect them to your brand.
- Who are they?
- What do they want and need?
- How does this want and/or need relate to my service or product?
Step #2: Problem
Real talk: The only reason why people are calling you, going to your website or walking into your store is because they have a problem and they need you to solve it.
When you clearly identify that problem for your customers and offer to resolve it – that’s when they are interested. This simple act shows them that you understand their needs and can alleviate their burden.
If you assume they know that you’re aware and you skip over it, or present that information indirectly, you’ve already lost.
But wait! When building your brand story, you actually need to think about three types of problems: internal, external and philosophical.
Most companies tend to position themselves as the solution to external problems, such as physical, financial and relational problems. However, people are actually more likely to buy into solutions that solve their internal problems, such as the doubts, fears and insecurities that the external problem manifests.
These can both also tie into philosophical problems. For example, if I’m concerned about the environment and sustainability is important to me, I may be more inclined to patronise a business that’s got a focus on low waste, biodegradable packaging or one that donates to 1% for the planet, even if that has absolutely nothing to do with the product or service I’m seeking.
The trick here is to get those audience personas as crystal clear as you possibly can. If you haven’t done that, it’s probably a good idea to consider doing some customer experience (CX) workshops with the team. You can also get someone on board to dig deep and build out some CX tools for your business to use, such as empathy maps, customer journeys and, you guessed it, personas (hint hint – we can help).
- What are my client’s external problems?
- Internal problems?
- Philosophical problems?
For example, Who Gives A Crap is a “Toilet paper company that builds toilets.”
- A customer’s external problem (and most obvious) is needing toilet paper after running out at home.
- Their internal problem (during the covid crisis) may be that if they don’t stock up now, there will be none left on the shelves at the local Woolworths.
- And the (environmentally conscious) philosophical problem may want to support the planet and only choose earth-friendly or socially conscious toilet paper.
Step #3: Guide
Now you’re probably wondering how do you put yourself in the story, while focusing on how the audience is still the hero?
This is a big paradigm shift.
Heroes don’t look for heroes! They look for a guide!
- You are not Harry Potter. You are Dumbledore.
- You are not James Bond. You are Q.
- You are not Luke Skywalker. You are Yoda.
If you understand this concept and put it into practise, you will fundamentally change how you talk about your business. And – you’ll do it in a way that’s proven to increase your customer base, sales and revenue.
So, when a customer comes to you, don’t talk about what you’re trying to do. Talk about them and what they need.
Lay out your products and services as if they’re a weapon that will save the world, get the girl or win the day. You are the connection between the problem and the solution. How are you going to help them get from where they are to where they need to be?
That’s how you get your audience to respond.
- Are you positioning yourself as a guide or hero?
Step #4: Plan
If you get to this step, you are further than most companies get with their customers, but it’s still too soon to ask them for a sale. We know, we know. Just hold your horses!
If you ask for a sale now, your customers are likely to withdraw from you. By making it official you can overwhelm them, make the process scary by asking them to pull out their wallets, and create distrust. They know that you’re their guide, but they may not fully understand how you can solve their problem.
How do you overcome this? You need to give your audience a plan to explain how easy it is to work with you.
People trust a guide who has a plan!
When you give your customers a plan, you’re helping them overcome the barriers to their success.
There are two main “types” of plans that work well in this type of storytelling:
- A three step plan explaining how to use your offering to solve their problem
- An agreement plan is an agreement that you make with your audience to deliver value (think buy one, get one free).
- Do you have a simple plan that makes it easy for your customers to do business with you?
For example, Soulara has a simplified “How it works” to explain how their product works in three simple steps:
- Choose your meals
- We cook with love
- And deliver to your door
And Gumtree has a simple slogan “Buy. Sell. Win” to showcase how to use their platform easily.
Even gyms have jumped on the band-wagon and offer three-step processes to join their communities.
Step #5: Call to Action (CTA)
Finally, it’s time to ask for the sale! But here is something you need to keep in mind: Most people don’t take action unless they are clearly asked to take action!
As the guide in your audience’s story, you must clearly ask them to buy something from you.
This can be very simple and relayed in many ways, like “buy now”, “schedule an appointment”, or “approve”. It’s important to note that every business and interaction is different, so there are many ways to approach this, but no matter what – you have to ask.
You have to give customers something to accept or reject.
- Do you have a clear, unmistakable call to action?
For example, we use a straight forward CTA “Contact us now” so you can get in touch and join our Narrative Finding workshops.
Another is Snap Fitness who have an offer that takes over the entire screen to “Enquire now.” It’s almost unavoidable and really directs the audience to the end goal.
Who gives a crap has an inescapable CTA on their banner “Order now” to make it easy to buy toilet paper.
Step #6: Failure
Understandably, most businesses shy away from talking about failure of any kind. It’s all about how wonderful you are and how great your client’s life will be with you in it. However, this is a classic part of storytelling and can be very effective in business.
Think about it: Heroes are compelled into action when something is at stake.
- Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her sister, Prim.
- A retired CIA officer must use all his past skills, connections and devices to rescue his daughter from an abductor in the movie, Taken.
None of these characters wanted to engage in the action of the story. They were compelled to act in order to avoid a tragic ending or failure.
What this means for your brand is that you must clearly communicate the negative consequences of what will happen to your customers if they do not buy your product or services.
When conveying what could happen to your customers if they don’t get you to solve their problems, you’re effectively putting the fear of failure into them by showing them what it looks and feels like to live with that failure. By bringing their fear to the forefront (in a reasonably subtle, professional way) it will influence your audience to take action immediately!
- What’s at stake for your customers?
- What are the negative consequences of not doing business with you?
Step #7: Success
Now you need to show your audience how your products can positively affect their lives. Show them what it’s like to have more money or how incredible they would feel after trying your product or wearing a particular clothing item.
People naturally steer towards a happy ending.
If you communicate and display your hero’s success and demonstrate how you can solve their problems to get them there, you will be way ahead of the game.
Paint the picture: If you are not telling people what their life would look like when they do business with you, they are not going to want to do business with you.
- How can you help your customers envision their success after doing business with you?
See This Structure in the Hunger Games
#1: Audience/ Hero – Katniss
- External – needs to survive to win the Hunger Games and bring honour and fortune to district 12
- Internal – must remain authentic and good to get sponsors and not lose herself in the games
- Philosophical – tyranny vs democracy
#3: Guide – Haymitch helps Katniss understand the process of the Hunger Games and how to survive
#4: Plan – Endear the public to get sponsors as it will heighten her chance of survival
#5: Call to Action – Competing in the Hunger Games
#6: Failure – Katniss Dies
#7: Success – Katniss Wins and District 12 rejoices
Check out how it visually looks from a slide in our training program below.
Time to Make A Story
Now you know how to structure your narrative in a way that will continue to connect and engage the audience. If you are not using these elements, you’re just contributing noise to the marketplace.
By following our narrative structure, you will be communicating a clear message that your audience will hear and respond to.
It’s time to create your own story that will skyrocket your brand to fame and increase your revenue.
We can help you take the next step. Contact Persuaders now to build your brand story.