The number one tool for effective marketing and increased sales is simple. And age-old. And all around you.  It’s story.

There’s nothing like a great story. When you read a book or see a movie you love, you can’t help but tell others.

The idea of story may take you back to high school English class, where you learned the importance of structure and arc, and all those literary terms.

But let’s not over-complicate; let’s keep it simple like a good, broken-in tool. Story is universally loved because it is the great connector. Through story, we understand life and we understand one another.

Story is a sense-making mechanism, as Donald Miller puts it in his best-selling book Building a Story Brand.  Story provides a formula for great fiction and screenplays. It also provides the formula for clearly stating your business’s solution.

A clear and effective marketing message provides the foundation upon which your marketing strategy is built. When the customer sees your products and services as the clear and simple solution, the sales is natural and easy.

Story as marketing

Much has been said regarding telling the story of your brand. Enchant the customer with the fascinating story of your business, its humble beginnings, and your miraculous breakthroughs. Surely the customer will want to join your tribe because the company story tickles the fancy.

What Miller teaches in his book flips the business-centric story on its head. Make the story about the customer. Our customers experience life through the filter of their wants, needs, problems, and perspective.

The early stages of the sales process are rapport-building, then trust-building.  The idea of highlighting your company story and attracting your tribe is like, “build it and they will come”. It misses the mark.

Meanwhile, the people we want to serve simply want to find solutions to their problems.  We’re talking. They’re talking.  Who is listening?  How will we ever develop rapport and trust if our messaging falls flat?

It’s not about you

You are not the hero of the story. They are.  Let’s make business about serving customers.

I can hear the cries and questions out there. “What about me? It’s my business.” Not to worry, you are still in the story. Shift your role to the supporting cast member in your customer’s story.  Become the guide who helps the hero win the day.

You are the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker.

Customers need the right insurance coverage, a relaxing family vacation, supplements for their best health, organized closets, a charity they love and donate to, a coach who helps them live a satisfying life. You name it. Our customers have burning questions and if we are not starting from their need, we’re giving the customer too much information to sift through. With a world of options out there, they will move on.

A paradigm shift

Considering your customer as the hero of their story and introducing yourself as the guide to solve their problem is a paradigm shift.  Even those who aim to be customer-centric and servant-leader-minded do not realize their messaging highlights the company, the products, the story, the founder.

Start looking for ads, commercials, social media posts, and websites that position the customer as the lead, the hero and the business as the guide.  When you notice it, how do you respond as the consumer? What internal emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings occur when the customer is the hero and the business is the guide? Take note.

Next week’s blog will outline the components of story as it relates to marketing messaging. Week by week, we’ll break it down so you can tighten your messaging. From there, effective marketing and increased sales will follow.