Persuasion is the centerpiece of any marketing activity. Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services, employees and colleagues to go along with a new strategic plan or reorganization, investors to buy (or not to sell) your stock, and partners to sign the next deal.
Despite the critical importance of persuasion, most professionals struggle to communicate, let alone inspire.
There are two ways to persuade people. The first is by using conventional rhetoric, which is what most business people do. A lot of companies like to point out, “Here are our strengths, and we can help you,” whether in a statement on their website or a direct conversation with a prospect. Then they build the case by giving statistics, facts, and testimonials from important clients.
The other way to persuade people—and ultimately a much more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling, but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy.
Tell the right story and you can sell… Big!
Here is an example of how a real-estate broker sold a multi-million apartment through a story.
The team was discussing the marketing strategy for an open house event of a gorgeous apartment in Central Park west.
“We need to put a story behind the apartment!” urged one of the marketing consultants at a high-end New York city real estate firm.
“Stories connect people emotionally to the apartment,” another team member offered.
The end product of the heated meeting was an old-fashioned picture book of the apartment that related the story of the family residing there. The firm planned to hire an actor to read the books at the open house so that the attendees could envision themselves living there happily ever after.
The virtue of the story is this: emotional stories sell your brand and products. They make persuasion so much more powerful, and yet effortless.
Here’s why storytelling is more powerful than statistics
“People need stories more than the bread itself. They tell us how to live, and why.”
— Arabian Nights
Stories are fundamental to how we communicate as human beings. Tell the right story and you can capture attention, entertain, enlighten, and persuade … all in the course of just a few minutes.
People love hearing stories that they can relate to because stories make lives more interesting and allow people to connect on a deeper level. A simple short story can make a cold, empty apartment warm and welcoming.
How would a business person learn to tell stories?
Scientifically speaking, researchers have shown that the human brain makes a similar distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Basically, stories stimulate the brain and even change how people act in reality.
Unfortunately some of us work with or for brands that are in traditionally conservative industries that over complicate or over measure our content marketing process. This leaves little room for creativity and pays little attention to how to create great content in the first place. To create stories for “boring” brands, you may want to think outside of the box. Instead of talking about the brand itself, you can start with telling stories of its customers or associated charities.
Premium real-estate brokers don’t just sell houses and apartments; they sell shining dreams and lifestyles. Stories give a brand more meaning to connect with its customers at a deeper level.
What do Financial Institutions sell? Let us know in the comments below!