From rags to riches. Underdog to winner. Humble guy to brave hero.

This is the stuff of captivating books and great movies.

The classic elements of story include the character, the problem, the guru who teaches, the rising to the occasion, and the success at the end. An exciting or heart-tugging story line pulls you in, helps you remember it, and even recommend it to friends.

And this is the stuff of compelling and effective marketing.

Translating story to business, the elements include the customer, the problem, the expert who helps, the engaging solution, and the success at the end. Keeping this in mind creates a clear offer and an irresistible call to action.

Story in Marketing

There has never been a time in history when it has been easier to be in business. It seems that everyone has a small business. And it’s resulted in marketplace clutter. There’s just so much out there!

A few years back, all the experts were talking about building your “tribe” by telling the story of your remarkable self and your remarkable business. “My business is awesome, you should follow me!” This build-it-and-they-will-come idea is interesting.

Here’s the issue: this approach is self-serving, if you ask me.

The definition of business is the exchange of goods and services for money.  This implies serving customers with solutions to their problems.

We need our customers’ lives to be transformed if we’re going to have an honest-to-goodness business.

Offer a Simple Plan

While you and your business are fascinating (because everyone has story and we are all amazing), the point of your business is about others.

Getting clear about your customers’ problems and your unique solutions puts you in the position as the guide.  And to be an effective guide, we need to offer a simple plan.

Recently on vacation, I received directions from a local. Ohmygoodness, the details including landmarks and multiple turns, followed by an exaggerated, “it’s easy!” honestly felt belittling to me, a visitor.

The experience reminded me of what it can feel like for potential clients and web surfers. People need an easy plan to understand what they need to do next.

Guide Them to Success

When you provide the solution your customer needs, they succeed. And when they win, you win.

Whether the solution is a new gadget and the instructions to use it or a service that makes their life better such as closet organizing or image consulting or life coaching, break down the steps for your customer. This makes it easy for them to say yes and for you to guide them to the success they’re after.

Break down your offer into three succinct and clear parts:

1) what do they need to do to engage with you and your products and services?

2) what will they experience when they engage with you?

3) what will their life look like after they engage with you?

By doing this, it’s like taking your customer by the hand and they naturally follow. You appeal to their innate desire for order and logic.

Sales Come Naturally from Story

Rather than the used car salesman shouting offers, story invites the customer into the narrative. This makes the sale natural.

When we position the story around the customer and their perspective, their needs, and their desire to find a solution, it changes everything. We become the guide, the guru, the obvious solution.

When our solution is broken down into three easy steps, as mentioned above, it’s like dropping crumbs for the customer to follow. And it leads them right to “yes”.

A clear message and a natural sale… isn’t that fantastic?!

Because that is the thing that will lead your “character” to their transformation. And that, my business friend, is the stuff of great stories.