A good story, even when fiction, isn’t a lie.
We find a way to latch onto a story in a way we identify with. We all have the same story with the only difference being the beginning, middle, and end. We go looking for stories in everything and everyone. Understanding the power of story means looking at writing and blogging in a completely different way.
Readers want a storyteller, not a salesman. They want a story, not a sale.
Of course it's the same old story. Truth usually is the same old story. -- Margaret ThatcherClick To Tweet
The Qualities Of A Great Story
A great story is one that a reader connects to, one that they somehow easily identify. The great story seems true, whether through humor, encouragement, beauty, or inspiration. How do you write something that connects with people?
- Great stories have personality. Personality connected to your person. This shows up in small quirks like word choices or phrases, and in large traits, such as over-arching themes. Write as you write, not as someone else would write.
- Great stories are honest. They show blemishes and faults and conflicts. They have fun without being cruel. They don’t beat around the bush instead of being direct. They fearlessly dive into a place marketing writers would never tread. They bust through the bland surface.
- Great stories require a response. You don’t have to ask for a response. You don’t have to wheedle for one, either. A good story will naturally elicit response on its own. Readers will share it, comment on it, bookmark it, say “me too!”, sign up for more — they want to do something because of how the story has made them feel.
- Great stories are for everyone when written for just one. If you try to write with a wide general audience in mind, your story will ring false. It will be bland. No one will be interested. Write for one person. If it’s genuine for the one, it’s genuine for the rest.
- Great stories illuminate. They make difficult concepts clear. They use allegory, analogy, conflicts, and contrasts. They use anything to show (not tell) a hard-to-grasp truth or an abstract concept.
A great storyteller has unlimited power to persuade, teach, and move into action. A lecturer or salesman does not. This is because the storyteller has a direct line to the emotions that stir us into action. A lecturer or salesman must appeal to the mind and to reason first.
Stories Work For Every Business
For a business, especially, it seems like stories aren’t a valid form on a blog or in advertising.
Perhaps you are in the Information Technology business, and need to tell the world about your IT equipment and services company. You could talk about how you can help solve problems they might have with data processing, and how good your prices are. You can mention reliability, and even point out other big name companies that use you. You can talk about some technical background stuff and appeal to the IT managers. You could talk about specs and compatibility.
And then, after a while, you run out of things to say with the usual marketing language. You want to find a way to illustrate what you do and how it could help, but it doesn’t quite resonate with your audience; it doesn’t click. You’ve tried explaining your product and service as many ways as you could. And so you decide to stop explaining, and tell a story about it instead. Using cats.
You’ll struggle to lose that corporate marketing voice if you never tell stories on your blog. It’s the stories that go viral on social media, not product information. And stories are especially useful in precisely those businesses that seem least likely to have a story to tell.