Want to advance your career? Learn to tell a great story

“The best way to unite an idea with emotion is by telling a compelling story.”

– Robert Mckee, Fulbright Scholar, screenwriter and lecturer

With the intense competition in today’s marketplace, business owners are always searching for new and better ways to become memorable in and for their market. The art of storytelling can help anyone in business make a clear and effective case for his or her product or services. It can also help attract customers and build momentum for a brand or organization.

First, you need to understand the purpose of your story as it relates specifically to your customers’ needs and go beyond explaining the features and benefits of your company to the essence of what will inspire your target market. Know your prospective customers’ sensibilities so you can give them a reason to identify with your brand, and then weave a concise story that captures the purpose behind your product offering that your market won’t forget.

Successful marketers use various forms of storytelling to unite an idea with people’s subconscious desires. Each brand’s unique story captures its audience’s imagination and gets customers to want the item as a means to connect with the brand’s identity. Success, prestige, athletic prowess, bravery, making a difference, and being triumphant over nature are aspirations that attract consumers to buy.

Distill the identity of your firm into a single phrase or into images that capture your audience’s imagination and capitalize on its deeper yearnings.

Foster an emotional connection

Nike’s tagline “Just Do It” captures the idea of going beyond what one thinks one is capable of. “Just Do It” has become a catchphrase for anyone that is bold, brave and daring.

Become part of charitable community

Tom’s Shoes have an effect on their fans through sharing pictures of those they’ve helped. Their campaign strives to build a community around a charity, tapping into people’s desire to see the impact they have around the world.

Attach them to greatness

Think Rolex, which focuses on the supreme craftsmanship and innovativeness of its watches, as well as the historic events and milestones it has been associated with. The state-of-the-art watch has been shown being worn by the British racecar driver Sir Jackie Stewart who broke the world’s speed record, by members of John Hunt’s expedition as they ascended Mount Everest, as well as world-class athletes like Roger Federer, Jack Nicholas and Tiger Woods during winning tournaments. People are drawn to the product from a desire to attach to its prestige and the heroic feats of the brand ambassadors.

Build momentum with story

Who is your audience and what is your goal? People are attracted to new products or services that fill a need, and make and improve the quality of their life. The reason you tell a “business story” may be quite different from the reason you tell a story at a party, but great storytellers use the same basic techniques.

Daniel Pink, author of “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” writes, “Right-brain dominance is the new source of competitive advantage.” Tapping the right side of the brain allows for deeper engagement by uniting an idea with an emotion. So what’s the best way to do this? Learn the techniques on how to tell a compelling story.

Pink says that no matter whom you’re trying to influence, you’ll need to “start with a deep understanding of your audience, and ensure your story has a clear and powerful meaning – to them. Then you can get to work honing it for maximum impact.” He starts out with a story that surprises to capture our attention. “I need to make a confession at the outset here. A little over 20 years ago I did something that I regret, something that I’m not particularly proud of, something that, in many ways, I wish no one would ever know, but here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. (Laughter) In the late 1980s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school”.

Pattie Sellers, previous senior editor-at-large for Fortune Magazine, encourages entrepreneurs to tell their story and to make it authentic. She says in her YouTube, “Tell Your Own Story” that storytelling via social media is useful for people now more than ever, as you have the opportunity through social media to tell your story at length.

Become a great storyteller

Film maker Andrew Stanton, co-writer of the “Toy Story” movies, says that a great story comes from using what you know, capturing a truth from experiencing it, and expressing values you feel deeply. He suggested in a recent TED Talk that you allow the listener to make his own deductions about you from the story. That is, don’t come out and say you’re collaborative, adaptable or anything – tell a story that convinces your listener you possess these traits. Stanton says that a well-told tale grips, excites and engrosses. He offers five storytelling tips to engage your audience and enhance your business’s brand: Make them care, take them with you, be intentional, let them like you and delight them.

If your stories are meaningful, succinct and are tied to the values and interests of your market, they could make you more memorable in the marketplace. Whether you’re trying to get investors, enhance sales, or simply explain your business to others, stories are far more memorable than facts alone. Stories shouldn’t be left to “storytellers” – fiction writers, journalists and filmmakers. In today’s hyper-competitive market it’s your story that will make you memorable, funny, smart and special in the mind of people you’re trying to persuade. And it could be the irresistible tool that connects you with your target audience giving you precisely the advantage you need to succeed.

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