NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START is one of the biggest complaints I hear from entrepreneurs who want to use storytelling in their marketing.
It makes perfect sense.
Why? Because choosing what to talk about from an infinite number of possibilities is a recipe for choice overwhelm and procrastination. It’s the No.1 thing that stops people from getting started in the first place.
In fact, research shows that by putting in place intentional constraints, we’re actually able to generate MORE creative ideas because we’re forced to look for inspiration with far greater focus and clarity.
Which is why I want to share with you the 9 key story types that help you generate obsessed mega fans NOT one-off transactions.
1) Origin Story
One of my favourite origin stories comes from Gavin Zuchlinski, the founder of Acuity. Gavin’s product began as a humble after-work project that he designed to help his mum book her appointments.
He saw how much time she wasted booking massage therapy appointments. And how much stress it caused her to constantly go back and forth with her clients over email. So he wanted to build a solution just for her.
On the surface, Gavin’s product (an online diary management tool) is deathly boring. But when you hear his story, it suddenly makes the founder and his offer much more interesting because it helps us understand why the product matters so much.
When it comes to your own origin story, it could be the origin of your business as a whole, or you can create an origin story for each of your products or services. Everyone loves to hear the reason why a product or service came into existence in the first place, so why not share yours?
2) Personal Success Story
One of the most important aspects of writing sales copy, is to explain the key features and benefits of your product or service. One approach is to simply write them out in a list. You can definitely do that. But, let’s face it – that’s totally boring. Unless your audience is particularly into reading product user guides, no one wants to sit and consume a list of features.
Which is where your own success stories come in. You can use your own story to explain how your solution helps to solve your ideal clients’ problems.
By highlighting the key features of your offer in the form of a story it becomes instantly more relatable and easier for your prospect to visualise the positive outcome they can achieve.
3) Client Success Story
An endorsement from a client is exponentially more valuable than anything you can say about your own business. Often business owners will share testimonial screenshots or quotes they’ve received from their clients.
Testimonials are an essential piece in the marketing puzzle BUT they’re also boring to read without some context.
Which is why client success stories work so well. They allow you to take a testimonial and re-shape it into a story that’s interesting and engaging, and mirrors the struggles your ideal client is experiencing right now. (Even better if you can get your clients to shoot a testimonial video where they tell their own story!).
4) Random Analogy
These are probably my favourite type of story! Largely because my mind works in strange ways that allow me to see connections between seemingly unrelated events BUT they’re also some of the most entertaining stories you can write.
Analogies work because they allow you to frame lessons your clients have probably heard 1000 times before, in a way that’s unique and interesting. They can also be extremely effective as a way to explain complex concepts. That’s because your audience can visualise the lesson in the context of something familiar, that already makes sense to them.
All it takes is a little bit of left of field thinking!
5) Stories from TV, Books or Films
When it comes to story-driven marketing, we often overlook using pre-existing stories. But if there’s a story already written that explains your point perfectly, why not use it?
Much like analogies, you can take familiar stories from popular fiction or popular culture and use them to give context to a complex product or idea. These help your readers visualise your message and understand it without wasting too much of their precious brain reserves.
6) News Stories
Have there been any recent news events that might be relevant or interesting to your audience?
Perhaps there’s a piece of news out that’s captured people’s imagination on social media. If so, why not take a story that people are already talking about and use it as a persuasive argument to justify buying your product or service? Or use it as a way to educate your audience about a problem they’re facing right now.
By using news stories in your marketing you can benefit from riding the wave of a topic that’s already trending by using it to grab people’s attention.
7) Picture The Scene Story
Do all your stories need to be based on real life events? The short answer is NO…with conditions!
If you decide to tell a fictional story, it’s totally OK as long as you make it clear that it’s a made up scenario. Which is why I like to begin these types of stories with a line like, ‘Picture the scene…’
They allow your prospects to visualise a situation BUT you don’t risk crossing the bullsh*t line, by making up a story to build fake credibility. What’s great about Picture the Scene stories, is that they’re an effective way to agitate a pain point in a way that creates a strong visual impact WITHOUT digging in the knife and sounding judgemental.
8) Cautionary Tale
A cautionary tale is the story of someone who had the opportunity to solve their problem but didn’t. You can use these types of story to paint a picture about what happens when you continue to hold yourself back from fixing your problems.
Cautionary tales are a great way to handle sales objections in way that’s engaging and compelling. They save you beating your prospects over the head with their objections or calling them out in a way that feels pushy or unpleasant.
If there’s one thing we know about buyers, they’re far more likely to feel buyer’s remorse if you resort to bully boy tactics to push them over the line.
9) Research/Experiment Story
Research studies and experiments make great stories. The very nature of an experiment means they’re already shaped in the form of a story, full of intrigue and suspense.
If you find an interesting piece of research that emphasises an argument you want to make or helps teach a lesson, why not share it in the form of a story?
When it comes to writing stories in your marketing, it can feel overwhelming to narrow your focus down to the stories that will make the biggest impact in your business. So most entrepreneurs end up throwing in the towel before they’ve even had chance to get started.
But by following the framework I’ve outlined in this article, you’ll have the starting point of an effective story-driven marketing strategy that helps you generate ideas without the headache.
Want the secret to a Unique Origin Story that converts like crazy?