Tell Stories and Improve Your Marketing

Tell a story to get your marketing message acrossMaybe sales and marketing are not your strongest skills. But if you want to improve your marketing by 100%, try this simple technique that anybody can do: learn to tell a good story.

In my latest column over at the OPEN Forum site, I discuss the power of telling stories to spice up your marketing:

T.J. Walker, a public speaking consultant to the rich and famous, wrote about the power of telling stories. Quoting the book “Made to Stick” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, he notes that 63% of people will remember a story from a talk or presentation, versus only 5% who remembered statistics.

He also said this: “Stories are not a luxury; they are the single most effective way to get your audience to remember your messages.”

OK, he was talking about public speaking. But, that same principle applies to marketing your business, too — because marketing is partially about getting your message across.

If you want your business to be memorable, and for your message to reach as many people as possible and persuade them to buy, learn to tell stories around your business.

Naturally, in my column I tell a story to get my point across — a story about fuzzy bunny slippers. Read: How Fuzzy Bunny Slippers Can Grow Your Business.

Check out the comments under that column, too.  Ivana Taylor left a  helpful  comment outlining how to get started telling your story, if you’re not sure how.

You might also want to read my article from 2006, about the need to cultivate a great company story if you want to win business awards.

Every small business has a good story.  It’s there somewhere.  It just needs to be teased out and developed.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

12 Reactions
  1. Thanks Anita – There are tons of story outlines out there. Here’s another 5-point-plan.

    1. State the burning issue (we spend $250 million dollars a day in bad meetings)
    2. Give an overview of how the burning issue happened – (every day each of us scuttles into a production meeting – for no reason other than habit – if you have factoids put them here)
    3. Give me your idea or solution to the issue – (no tuesday meetings)
    4. Tell me why it’s good for me – you’ll save an hour a week
    5. What do you want me to do – approve no-tuesday meeting policy

    This is an awesome persuasive outline and could be delivered in less than 5 minutes.

    The other thing I love about this outline is that it follows the “silent” questions that the little voice inside all of us is asking. For example after you state that we waste $250 million – the little voice says something like “How can you say that?!” — that’s when you hit them with point #2 — the overview – the facts of the case. Then the little voice says “OH NO – what can we do?! Enter point #3 – your solution or idea. Then the little voice says “Whew,, glad you thought this through – but wait – what’s in it for me?! ” Ah – that’s why we have point #4 – the benefit. “Oh, OK ” says the voice, what can I do?” That’s where you go to point #5 – the action you want them to take.

    See – simple. Actually, easier said than done. This outline takes a lot of editing, but when you get the story right – BAM – they just can’t say no.

    This is also an awesome management tool that empowers employees and stops them from coming to management to solve every problem. Just tell them when they have a problem – to follow this outline when they present it. 🙂 Sneaky and motivating.

    For more info – get the book “Say it in Six” can’t remember the author – but that’s where this comes from.

  2. I find stories are more captivating than just facts. It does not surprise me that being a story teller can help market your business. People want to be talked to, not talked at.

  3. B Smith @ Wealth and Wisdom

    It isn’t just stories that work like this. If you can create a good metaphor it will do the same thing. It is also easier if you (like me) aren’t good at telling stories.

  4. I always remember a good story and one with a bit of humor always sticks. I tend to repeat those. . .

  5. An interesting fact grabs my attention for a few seconds and makes me jot it down. A good story rolled into a presentation makes me remember the person telling the story a whole lot more.

  6. Anita,

    You don’t realize how TRUE this is until you start actually speaking!

    I just did a talk today-and the stories definitely move them more.

    -Shama Hyde

  7. MarketingDeviant

    Humans love stories so they tend to stick. Marketing = Storytelling. Marketers should start hiring storytellers to help them out! 😀

  8. Just read the article (loved the graphic, BTW) and just a great “AHA!” moment sort of read! Thank you!

    Now if you’ll indulge me…

    “One upon a time…”

  9. That’s true. What a great way to get some word of mouth by having people repeat the stories you tell them. A great story with a little humor always gets my attention.

  10. Martin Lindeskog

    I wrote the following on the OpenForum:

    I am fascinated by the power of storytelling. I have read the book Storytelling – Marketing in the Experience Industry by Lena Mossberg and Erik Nissen Johansen. Recently I listened to a speech by Erik Nissen Johansen on this topic.

    My story goes as follows: At a coffee house in London, September 12, 1745.

    “Ring the bell! East Indiaman Gothenburg is going down… What’s the insurance rate at the moment?”

    I want to create a new type of physical meeting place for entrepreneurs and business minded individuals. One important ingredient is the cup of tea or coffee. You share your ideas over a cup of coffee or tea in a nice atmosphere. See it as the third place, between your home and your office.

    “Five word pitch”: “Biz & Buzz in a Cup.”

    See you at Blue Chip Café & Business Center!

    I want to get in touch with individuals who are interested in developing this business idea into a franchise concept.

    All the Best,

    Martin Lindeskog – American in Spirit.
    Gothenburg, Sweden.

    P.S. As a blogger, I am wearing slippers. I am PJ (Pajamas Media) Network blogger.

  11. Martin Lindeskog

    As a follow up: I believe we have an universal need and desire to arrange meetings between traders of services and products. Why don’t we have it at a nice meeting place? We crux is how to get paid for this kind of arrangement. My idea is to create an exclusive membership club. Right now it is only an investment of ~$0.15 per day. We want to create an online forum, e.g. a Blue Chip Community that is connected to physical meeting places around the globe.

    By the way: Anita: I have to visit Ohio soon again. Bob Evans restaurant triggered my stomach… 😛 I miss Steak & Shake and other restaurant chains.

  12. Another follow-up. A good environment for developing your thinking, listening, speaking and leadership skills, is the organization called Toastmasters. I am a newbie member and will soon delivery my first speech (icebreaker). Click on my name for a blog post on Toastmasters.