Now you know how to create a great story and what your business story is all about. But how do you hook your customers to your story?
You need a simple mindset shift. This mindset shift makes or breaks your story.
Ready to dive right in? Read on to learn how to use persuasive storytelling.
1. This mindset shift is key if you want to use stories to sell
Your business story has a hero.
No, it’s not you.
It’s your customer.
See? That simple mindset shift makes all the difference.
Here’s how it works:
Most businesses talk about what they do, what they’ve achieved, where they’re going and why they do what they do.
But with this mindset shift, you see things from your customer’s perspective.
And that sets you apart from the rest.
With this subtle change, your customers:
- a) Understand what your business is about and how it helps them.
- b) Get hooked to your story.
Remember the Hero’s Journey from Chapter 2?
To recap, your customer sets out on a journey. He/she faces a challenge and is guided by you, the guide. Once that challenge is won, your hero has transformed in some way and life continues.
Let’s start with a few persuasive storytelling examples:
Let’s say you sell life coaching.
Well, your customer has decided to go on a journey and overcome a struggle. As the coach, you’re there to guide your customer. When your customer has gone through your coaching program, he/she has changed in some way.
Or say you sell birthday cards.
Here, your customer is on a journey to find the perfect card for a close friend or family member. You’re there to help him/her do it and in the end, you’ve helped your hero forge a stronger relationship with the people in his/her life.
Just look at Janto, founder of vlogical.
Who is Janto’s hero?
A customer who struggles with creating a compelling website to clearly explain a difficult and complex topic.
What does Janto do for his customers/heroes?
Janto is the guide who helps his customers create engaging websites.
Where do Janto’s customers/heroes end up?
In the end, his customers achieve their goal. They now have a clear and compelling website that attracts more customers.
Or take Jared Fogle.
Jared was a college student who lost a ton of weight thanks to a diet consisting of only Subway sandwiches.
It’s a powerful story and it aligns perfectly with Subway’s slogan “Eat fresh” (whether this is a healthy diet or not is another question).
Jared represents Subway’s customer – the hero of that story. No wonder Subway used his example in their ads for over 10 years.
But realizing who your hero is not enough.
To get your customers to take action, you need to understand their motivations as the hero of your story.
2. Get your hero to take action by knowing what they want
To create persuasive stories you must know the answer to this question:
What does your hero desire and what are the problems they face?
That’s what makes them undertake their journey.
#1: What’s your hero’s goal?
Here’s the thing:
In every story, characters have one goal. They’ll go through hell and fire to reach that goal.
If you don’t know what that goal is, it’s hard to motivate your hero to face a challenge.
There’s a difference between what the hero wants from the outset (their one goal) and what they need.
In the beginning, your hero knows what he/she WANTS. He/she has a problem and wants to solve it. But they don’t know what they NEED – a problem under the surface that changes everything.
At the end of the story, they’ve figured it out. And it’s this need (NOT the want) that the audience remembers.
The want is usually tied to some personal goal or desire, like a promotion, more money, better status, better relationships…
But the need is deeper.
It’s more of a transformation:
Helping others, achieving lasting results, becoming a better parent, becoming more generous and finding true love.
So, the want motivates them to go on a journey.
The need is what truly shakes up their world and makes them remember you forever.
But when do heroes realize they have a need?
Through the obstacles they face on the way.
And by realizing that need, they change in some way. Usually, they become a better person.
This transformation is called the character arc.
For example, in The Lion King, Simba wanted to live a carefree life (want). But when he learns that Scar is evil, overcomes his own insecurities, and finds the courage to battle Scar (obstacle), he transforms into the lion king (need).
And here’s Spotify again…
What “want” do Spotify customers have? Maybe it’s using a cool tool. Maybe it’s the convenience of it. Or saving money or something else.
But what’s their need?
My guess is: building better relationships with friends and family through music (for example, Spotify offers a family package).
Or maybe it’s being happier thanks to music or because of emotions and memories tied to certain songs… What’s your guess?
#2: What problems do they face?
Your hero has a goal – both wants and needs. But heroes also have problems and challenges. They risk things if they fail to achieve what they set out to do.
The hero’s challenges and problems have three different levels:
- Internal level – This is usually something psychological and/or emotional that the hero risks losing.
- External level – What’s going on around the hero?
- Philosophical level – What’s at stake for the world? What values are going to change or not change if the hero fails? This is usually a battle between good versus bad.
In The Lion King, Simba isn’t sure he has what it takes to become a king (internal problem).
The savannah is ruined by Scar (external problem).
And at the end of the day, The Lion King is a battle between good and bad (philosophical problem).
Here’s a random stock photo I found online to illustrate this:
3. Use persuasive storytelling in your business
In your business, your customer has pretty much the same motivations as any epic hero.
#1 – They have a goal and a want.
- Customers who buy from a car dealership want a car because they want to own a transportation vehicle. The brand they choose depends on their deeper wants — for example, being perceived as high-status people (Tesla or Mercedes).
- Customers who buy from career coaches want a better career so they can lead happy lives.
- Customers who buy from insurance companies want security if something happens and so that they can feel in control.
#2 – They have a need.
- A car fulfills some need the customer doesn’t know he/she has or doesn’t associate with the purchase of a car. For example, their car makes them part of a “community” (e.g. Tesla owners) and this makes them feel like they belong.
- A career coach might help people find out what they truly value in life.
- Finding the right insurance can fulfill people’s need to manifest the love they feel for their family.
#3 – They have problems and challenges. They risk something if they fail.
Customers who want a better career might doubt their ability to take on a more challenging job (internal problem).
They have to prove their value to potential employers (external problem).
If they fail to find a job they love, there’s yet another frustrated employee stuck in a draining job. That makes the world a little bit less happy (philosophical problem).
So in terms of YOUR business, ask yourself:
- What does my customer want? What’s their goal? This is why they buy.
- What’s my customer’s need? What do they need that they don’t know they need? This is what they associate with their purchase.
- What problems and challenges do your customers face? What happens if they fail? What are her internal, external and philosophical problems? This is why they need you.
Here’s Maria from Fabulous Mondays.
Maria helps people find work they love.
What do her customers want? To find work they truly care about.
What do her customers need? To get clear on what they want.
What problems and challenges do her customers face?
Internal: Overwhelm, stuckness, and frustration because they don’t know what they want or they’re afraid of pursuing a certain path.
External: Bad advice, judgment, and other people’s expectations.
Philosophical: The world is better off with people who feel happy and fulfilled. So, you could say this is a battle between good and evil.
…One more thing before we end this Chapter.
Now you know that your customer is your hero. So your job is to create a story they WANT to be part of.
That means – just as you must build your story around their motivations, you cannot disregard their values. If you do, you’ve lost them.
And that’s how you use storytelling in business to hook your customers to your story.
- The hero of your story is always your customer. Even when you talk about yourself.
- Persuasive storytelling is ALL about figuring out your customer’s wants and needs and their challenges and problems.
In Chapter 5, we’ll look at 12 storytelling mistakes you DON’T want to make – and what to do instead.