How to Use Storytelling Online to Attract Customers

Arthur Kam
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Using storytelling online can help you to connect better with your customers. When you connect well with your customers, it makes your future marketing efforts more effective.

Many marketing strategies involve paid advertising to drive traffic to the website. Then companies work on converting that traffic into purchases and retaining them as customers in the long run.

While that is a profitable model, the nature of advertising makes this model susceptible to plateaus and declines.

Have you found that advertising costs are getting more expensive? You're not alone. It used to be less challenging to make a positive return on your ad spend. But now it feels like those days are over. Increased competition from all over the world is driving up the cost of ads everywhere.

Not only that, but potential customers are also more skeptical than ever. People don't like being sold to and find it hard to trust companies that always self-promote.

That can't be good for your ROAS (return on advertising spend). Wouldn't you rather have a marketing strategy that attracts long-term customers to you instead? That way, they'll not only make repeat purchases over time, but they could also end up as an advocate for your brand.

Given that 80% of customers want to hear stories from companies, it might be a good idea to give them what they want by telling your story.

By the end of this article, you’ll discover why storytelling online works well and how to incorporate storytelling into your marketing strategies.

Use Storytelling Online to Create Advocates, Not Avocados

These days, social media is such a big part of everyone's lives.

Let's pretend everyone has a stage and a megaphone. They already have people who like and trust them and are just waiting for recommendations. They've got recommendations to either buy or avoid buying things.

If you want your customers to recommend you to their friends and their network in a positive way, you should consider using storytelling online through your social media or website. When you tell a story that your customers can relate to, you activate mirror neurons in their brains.

According to a study by Greg J. Stephens, Lauren J. Silbert, and Uri Hasson entitled Speaker–Listener Neural Coupling Underlies Successful Communication, this process is called neural coupling. When activated, your customer's brain activity matches that of your communications through your storytelling online. The result is an increase in anticipation, understanding, and receptivity in your customer.

Why would you want that? If your customers become your advocate, you will amplify all the results of all your marketing strategies multi-fold. If not, your marketing efforts will ripen quickly like avocados and will need to be thrown out before they can even be eaten—rendering all that effort useless.

Why Does Storytelling Online Work So Well?

Whether we realize it or not, we human beings are deeply connected to stories. We are all shaped by stories since our early childhood. Stories shape our entire belief systems. We receive stories from other people, and we also tell ourselves stories.

Roger Schank, a cognitive psychologist and author of Tell Me a Story: Narrative and Intelligence said, "Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories."

Have you ever wondered why stories are so important? The reason we tell stories is so that we can coordinate action with other people within our society. It's kind of like driving on one side of the road. 

It's not enough that you drive on one side; everyone else in your society needs to be on board as well. A story of someone who caused accidents by driving on the opposite side of the road could be a good story to tell. The consequences would cause people to coordinate their actions and drive on the same side of the road.

Stories also require an element of belief. 

Other people in society need to believe your story for them to follow it. This shows that stories can also form communities of people that share the same belief.

What happens when people hold a belief that contradicts your story? The key is to find the root of their conflicting opinions. These opinions are usually found in their objections to your story. If you know their objections, you can use a framework for telling a story to handle their objections.

Once your storytelling online becomes more effective, you'll start to attract more customers. And more customers lead to increased sales.

Examples of Stories that People Can Relate To

Want to know what a good story looks like? Disney is excellent at marketing, and their movies tell great stories. For example, consider the movie Cars. Lightning McQueen is a hot-shot race car that's self-centered, close-minded, and only wants fame and popularity. His only goal is to win the race and get the glory, even if it means stepping on others to get there.

Along the way, he makes poor decisions and finds himself stuck in a small town. There, he makes friends and learns what really makes him happy. Eventually, he races again and has an opportunity to win.

As he is about to win the race, he witnesses a dirty competitor treating someone else unfairly. He stops short of the finish line and goes back to help them while letting the dirty competitor win. 

At the end of this story, we can see his values have changed to that of friendship, respect, and leadership. What a transformation, right? 

Along the way, he's taken two journeys. One is to win the race, and the other is to be a better person (or a better car in this case). One is a surface level outcome, and the other one is beneath the surface.

Telling Your Story as a Company

So how does this relate to your company's story? Here, let's take Peloton as an example. On the surface, Peloton is a fitness equipment brand. They offer high-end home fitness equipment integrated with interactive fitness classes. But what they do beneath the surface is build a community of customers and trainers who support each other.

They support each other through the challenge of getting healthy and fit. Everyone goes through the ups and downs of that journey together. The goal on the surface is to achieve the health and fitness they desire.

You may be wondering, what's the goal beneath the surface level? The goal beneath the surface is to be happy. Even company CEO John Foley acknowledges that Peloton sells happiness.

This type of story is what helped the company to achieve a valuation of $8 billion in just seven years. Yes, they might have had some recent troubles with their latest holiday marketing campaign, but it’s still an incredible feat.

By adding storytelling online into your online marketing strategies, you can also build a community of advocates.

Simple Framework for Developing Your Company Story

Have you heard of the Hero's Journey? It was introduced by Joseph Campbell in 1949 and stemmed from his life's research. His research spanned classic literature, pop culture, and religious texts. The protagonist heads off on an adventure but experiences a crisis. They fight their way to victory and become transformed in the process. They then return home to tell their tale and inspire others in their community.

While that is an excellent story framework, you don't need to have such a complicated story for your storytelling online to be effective. Just keep these principles in mind as you start to think about your stories.

Before I share with you a simple framework for storytelling online, here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Your story should magnetize and attract people with a personality that inspires.

  • Your story shouldn't be too complicated. Keep it simple.

  • Your story should explain the reason for your existence.

  • Your story should build a connection with your customer.

  • Your story should allow your customers to feel like they are part of it when they buy your product.

Ready for the simple framework?

  1. Beginning. Describe the problem that your company initially set out to solve.

  2. Middle. Describe the solution that your company came up with to solve the problem.

  3. End. Describe the success that this solution has provided for your company and for people that use your products.

This is a simple structure you can follow for your storytelling online. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Summary

When you include storytelling online into your marketing strategies, your customers can connect with you on a deeper level. It is worth the effort to build that kind of connection with your customers through stories.

Because once customers know, like, and trust you through your story, they will become your advocates. And lifelong advocates are the best customers who will champion your company and your products in the long run.

Are you unsure of how to integrate storytelling online into your current marketing strategies? At Copywriters.com, we can match you up with our copywriters who are experts at telling stories. Click here to discover how we can help you today.

Arthur Kam

Arthur Kam is a revenue-generating marketer and direct-response copywriter. He's a former engineer, who bootstrapped and exited two eCommerce brands that each made multiple 7-figures in sales. Nowadays, when he's not focused on helping clients scale their companies through copy, marketing, and funnels, he loves to travel and experience the world with his wife and business partner, Dr. Grace Lee.

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