When you tell a story, it’s so easy to leave out the important parts.
You don’t grab people’s attention and they don’t share or remember your story – and your business suffers.
At the same time, there are some simple – yet powerful – business storytelling techniques you can use to power charge your story.
In this Chapter, you get 12 irresistible storytelling techniques… along with business storytelling examples.
Use even one of these techniques and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition.
1. Hook your audience from the first sentence – or lose them forever
If you make this mistake, you’ve lost your customer from the start.
Let me explain:
Your story needs to pull in your reader from the first word to the last.
Lots of people miss the mark on this point. Unfortunately, long-winding intros make readers leave your site faster than they came.
How do you do it, though?
With super intriguing intros. Like this one from the blog I Will Teach You To Be Rich:
All intros have at least one thing in common:
Keep them short and evoke curiosity.
Brian Dean from Backlinko has a simple 3-step structure you can use:
Start by connecting with your readers.
Remember, they’re the hero… What’s their struggle? Show you understand what they’re going through.
Second, pique their interest with a result.
What’s the reader’s goal? Show them what their life could look like if they achieved that goal.
Finally, explain what they get out of your content and copy.
Show your readers how you will deliver the result to them.
Next up: headlines!
2. Make your readers crave more with your headline
If you’re on the lookout for good storytelling techniques, you’ll love this one.
Lots of business stories flop because of bad headline writing.
You see, lots of business stories flop because of bad headline writing.
Now, you might be asking:
“OK, but what makes a great headline?”
Well… Notice anything about these popular headlines?
What do you see?
Yup, these headlines evoke curiosity.
And curiosity makes your readers feel compelled to click through.
So think hard about your customer’s challenge and goal. What does he/she REALLY want?
Then, use that in one of these headline formulas to evoke curiosity:
How to [insert their goal]?
The [adjective] guide to [goal]
[#] [adjective] things you need to do to [achieve their goal]
3. Don’t tell… make them feel
Have you ever used jargon, bland words, or platitudes?
You’ve probably lost a few customers on the way.
Our brains are wired to tune in when we hear concrete information.
So use concrete language:
Words that describe action and feelings.
Remember this Old Spice ad? It says: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” And immediately, you connect Old Spice to a smell. They’ve made you feel the product.
Not sure where to start?
Metaphors are a great way to use this storytelling technique. For example:
“You feel like you’re treading water” or “You feel stuck in a rut” are much more compelling than “You feel unaccomplished”.
4. Talk about personal stories the right way
When you make yourself front and center of your story, people’s eyes glaze over.
You’re not the hero of your story, your customer is.
So even when you tell a personal story, it’s from your customer’s perspective.
Now don’t get me wrong:
Personal stories are GREAT for communicating authenticity.
But tie it together with a struggle your customer faces.
Talk about your failures.
Don’t try to make your life and business sound perfect.
People love to hear that they’re not alone in their struggles. Here’s an example from Amy Porterfield’s About page – a lot of entrepreneurs can recognize this agony:
5. The one thing you can’t miss out on if you want your story to take off
Want a HUGE advantage over your competition?
Here it is:
Blend in emotions.
Plenty of businesses just don’t use enough emotions in their copy. And they’re missing out.
Emotions steer our decision-making. Getting people to open their wallets is directly tied to how good you are at evoking emotions.
Using emotions comes down to communicating that you understand your reader’s struggles. Like Nerd Fitness does here:
And use words that convey emotions. “Most beautiful”, “you will [goal]”, “that will [goal]”, “eye-opening”, “heartwarming” and “draining” are just a few examples of language you can use to communicate a feeling.
And if that’s not enough, here are some more:
6. How consistency will 10x your story
Want customers who say “I GET it” when they land on your site?
Your message doesn’t make an iota of difference for your business if you don’t use it consistently.
And here’s something your competition is *probably* doing wrong. Their story doesn’t have a common thread.
Tie every story you put out there to your message.
Repeat your message – don’t worry about people having heard your story before.
Are your tired of hearing Nike’s slogan “Just Do It?”. Probably not if you’re in their target audience.
Yet, you hear it left and right.
7. Use a REAL challenge and struggle
So you know you need to identify your customer’s challenge.
Great, you’re halfway there.
But that’s not all:
The struggle must be REAL.
Meaning, it must be something that will move people.
As screenwriter Blake Snyder says: “Make the bad guy badder.” Make the problem you solve feel like the obstacle it is.
A business coach isn’t just helping people start businesses, so they don’t waste time and money on the wrong advice.
No, a business coach is helping customers fight anxiety, failure, and nay-sayers. Or maybe saving years of their lives (see how that’s more powerful than “time”)?
8. Make it primal to make people care
There are emotions and then there are primal emotions.
Most business owners settle for “blah” emotions (= emotions that don’t move people).
But you’re not like them.
You use primal emotions.
So what are these primal emotions?
They’re emotions everyone understands.
As humans, some of our emotions have evolved because of challenges our ancestors faced (starvation, hungry animals, hostile tribes and so forth). They’re extremely hardwired, so they result in automatic behavior even today.
These emotions are defined differently, but one way to categorize them is:
The next tip will reveal one trick you NEED to know to get people’s attention.
9. Attract more eyeballs with this (simple) trick
Want to know which keyboard button is my favorite?
Here’s the thing:
If there’s ONE thing you need to do, it’s keeping your story clear and simple.
And that’s done by deleting everything that doesn’t support the one thing your story is about.
You basically want a monkey to understand what your story is about…
….And that applies to ALL the material that’s tied to your story.
Your website, your emails, your blog posts… Strip them of the stuff that distracts readers from your message.
I see businesses making this mistake all the time. They cram in lots of words with no real meaning. And that’s not the way to go.
To avoid this mistake, answer this one question:
What would your customer say if they had to fill in the blank in this sentence: “I really want to____.” THAT’s what you need to focus on in your communication.
Evernote is a complicated tool. So you need a complicated way of explaining it, right? Well, no. Instead, their web page says “Meet Evernote, your second brain.” And that sums it up.
10. Position your story so it appeals to the right people
Here’s something important to know about storytelling techniques for business.
When we talk about people being mesmerized by stories, there’s one teeny, tiny detail you need to know…
Some people are more easily moved by stories than others.
What does this mean?
According to research, people vary in how well they’re transported by narratives. Simply put, stories persuade some people more than others.
You can’t know if your customers are easily moved by stories.
But you CAN avoid making the mistake to create a story that doesn’t appeal to them.
By positioning your business to attract the right customers.
If you’re talking about a specific customer’s problems, it’s MUCH likelier you’ll persuade him/her with your story.
Nerd Fitness is a perfect example of this:
11. Make your story memorable with this story hack
Ever wondered how writers like James Clear grab their audience from the get-go?
And how not to cram out boring stories in your blogs posts and other marketing material?
Then you’ll love this storytelling technique.
They use short stories in their stories.
After all, people remember stories 22 times better than facts.
And it gets better:
You can use short stories in several different ways.
First, there’s the anecdote or personal story.
Like this example by I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
Here, you share a story about something that happened to you. Then you tie it together with your content.
Or why not tell a story with research or a study?
Notice what I did in Chapter 1?
I used a study as a story.
Plus, people LOVE studies.
They give authority to your story.
Use a study in your story and share what the study is about.
Finally, use a historical event.
History is full of stories…
…Because, well, history IS story.
Use stories like James Clear in the example above.
Pick one that fits your narrative and share it with your audience.
12. Use the “Binge-Watch Technique” to get customers who love you as much as they love Netflix
I saved the best one for last:
This is one of my favorite business storytelling techniques.
Ever felt like you can’t put down a book before you’ve finished it?
It probably contains one or two cliffhangers.
You know, those super exciting moments that keep you reading, watching, or listening. You feel you must — right this second — see what happens next.
Instead of losing your customers because of boring storytelling copy…
Use this “Binge-Watch Technique” in your business story.
Their product updates are a show. People look forward to them. Years and months ahead, people try to guess what the company has come up with this time. That’s a cliffhanger.
Keep people engaged and on their toes by hinting what you’ll share or show further ahead. For example, “I’ll share the best point last”, “I’ll tell you next time about…” or “Tomorrow I’ll reveal…”.
That’s it – now you have 12 irresistible business storytelling techniques in your toolbox. Nice work!
Want to learn storytelling from the world’s best storytellers? Then head over to Chapter 6 right away.