Stories make the facts sticky.  That’s a fact.  We have used stories through the ages since time began, to ensure histories were known, to warn children of dangers, and to inspire others to stretch and take courage when needed. But how do you share great stories to boost your marketing effectiveness?

In marketing, stories of how others have achieved, succeeded, or managed adversities can easily become a mainstay of your communication, but often people hide away from telling stories, because they fear their abilities to do so. For a variety of reasons. Some worry they are not ‘good at telling stories’, because they also fear speaking to groups, or that what they wish to share is not their own story and so not theirs to speak of.  Confidentiality is a big issue for many business types too.

So here’s the easy FOUR things to remember when sharing good stories:

  • Make it relevant. Share it in a way that has meaning for the point(s) you are trying to make.
  • Share it in a way that is timely and well timed.
  • Keep it short, but simple.
  • And be sure that you have someone else’s permission to share it if needed.

Let’s dive into number three a little more.  Keeping it short means not telling more than is necessary.  Have you ever heard someone waffle on with all the minute details and wonder if they’ll ever get to the point?  Some stories really need to be well rehearsed if you’re going to share them in an environment where it matters how much time you get to speak. And keep it simple.  But, here’s the paradox.  Short and Simple might also mean taking the time to set the scene.

Here’s an example I was discussing with a client this week.  She works in the field of mental health and trains others in this area.  In discussing how best to talk about general information sharing, we covered the point that you need to be able to say one of three things as you are about to pause in your powerpoint or facts list.

  • “This reminds me of…
  • “I’d like to just take a moment and share with you what happened when…
  • “Have you ever been in this kind of situation when…

How it might be shared:

“It was such a regular day. A little after five in the afternoon, the kids were doing their homework, and I was in the kitchen peeling some potatoes for dinner, and the phone rang. (Pause) I was expecting Danny home any minute, and I saw it was his number, so I assumed he was asking if we needed anything collected from the market on the way home. I pushed the button with my dirty potato juiced finger, and heard this terrible noise coming from the other end of the line…”

From here you can share that he was laughing hysterically having just checked your lotto ticket on the way home, or he was sceaming in pain because he’d had an accident, or was sobbing because he’s just had terrible news.  The point is, that if you are sharing the story (relevant to the point you are trying to make) that you have taken the time to ensure your audience of one, ten, or one thousand, are leaning in waiting to hear what you’re about to say.  You’ve set the scene.  What you say next, will demonstrate the point you wish to make, and it will be memorable.

These are the things that people go home and share with their friends or family.

In a more business oriented setting you might use something more like:

“I remember the Cunninghams came to me with that same issue.  How exactly could they be truly ready for retirement after selling their award winning café and bar. Simon had inherited the business from his family 35 years earlier and sadly their own kids didn’t want to take it over. It was a fantastic little café too, they made the very best cheese scones in the world.  And about ten years ago, started crafting their own award winning beers.  But they wanted to be sure that …”

By now you want to know more about the Cunninghams plans for their cool little business and what they might do in their retirement, because they are ‘real people’ now. Which is far more eloquent than simply saying the alternative:  “One couple were stuck with how to invest their money to retire, so we signed them up for a term deposit.”  This elicits a ‘so what’ in the minds of your audience.

When sharing stories, you need to consider a lot around how to identify which stories to share, whether there are any permissions or confidentiality issues to deal with, and then whether you can make them a case study supported by a testimonial quote, an anecdotal story as evidence of empathy, or a funny interjection into what you’re trying to say to make it less easily passed over and forgotten.

If you would like to explore more about HOW to identify and share great stories in your marketing, you are welcome to download my free How to Tell Great Stories guide sheet, or have a conversation with me about developing your story power further in your business.

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