Humans respond to narratives, and we are more likely to retain information when it comes packaged in a story; so, storytelling is one of the greatest tools in the sales and marketing toolbox to engage your customers.
In a video from Marketo called “Lead Generation Tips from 6 Really Really Smart Human Beings,” Lee Odden, founder of TopRank Online Marketing said, “Facts tell. Stories sell.” This is the kind of catchphrase you should write down on a post-it-note and stick on your computer monitor—it’s that important. You can use statistics about your product as a selling point, but your prospect’s eyes may glaze over. However, tie these numbers up in a compelling tale about how your product completely turned a business around in its time of need, and you are much more likely to grab their full attention. Numbers make people nod, but stories make them care—and people are more likely to invest in something they care about.
Do Background Research
In the same video from Marketo, Nick Westergaard, chief brand strategist and founder of Driven Digital, said, “Questions are currency.” In other words, what marketers really need to do is identify what their potential client’s questions are and provide an answer before the prospect even thinks to ask. But how do you do that? You do a whole lot of customer research: determine what’s going on in their markets and use big data analytics to get a sense of their industry climate. When you know your audience, you’ll understand what kinds of stories make them tick.
Where Do You Tell Your Stories?
If you haven’t noticed, narratives are pervasive in our culture. That’s because they work well, no matter what medium you use to tell them, be it podcast, text or video. Using them in sales pitches can be extremely effective too. When it comes to digital marketing, video is a pretty safe bet. Internet video is a huge part of marketing and unlikely to go away anytime soon. When it comes to sending a succinct, effective message, video is a medium unlike any other. Make a video to use on a landing page or share on social media.
How Do You Tell Your Stories?
Once you choose a vehicle for your brand story, it’s all about creating a narrative that will sell. The important thing is that it contains all the right elements to engage with the audience. According to Forbes, it’s important to create characters that your clients will root for. After all, a story without a protagonist isn’t much of a story at all. Make sure it’s someone with issues that will resonate with your audience. Remember in grade school when you learned that a story has a beginning, middle and an end? That’s still true. Don’t forget to craft a story arc. In the beginning, present a stable situation, which then gets upset by the introduction of a problem that your product will solve for them.
When we talk about stories in marketing, we’re not talking about fiction. Your stories should be rooted in real encounters. This may sound less interesting than writing the great American novel, but using real events actually makes the whole process easier. You probably have an entire file full of client success stories. Think about one of these sales from the company’s perspective. Rather than just being a percentage point in a sales record, this situation is a story waiting to be told.
Whether you are making a pitch, creating a video or e-book, basing your marketing and sales efforts in stories is the way to go.
Attending and participating in sales orientation/training events and annual kick-offs is something that FirstRain offers as part of our customer success program. As one of our customers, Ciena invited us to attend in order to showcase FirstRain as an important new tool for the team within their CRM system. All of their sales users are encouraged to take advantage of FirstRain intelligence within their CRM and it was evident that FirstRain is already acting as their carrot! In fact, for this event our booth was right next to their CRM team’s station, and we were pretty busy giving lots of demos and answering questions for interested reps. We were really delighted by the amount of positive feedback we received during our 4 days on the ground with this great team.
From individual sales reps, to team managers, to the head of sales himself, we had an overwhelming number of people expressing the value FirstRain is bringing to their business. Our own team is certainly aware of the benefits and usefulness of FirstRain for companies like Ciena, but hearing from actual sales users telling us how we are making an impact is extremely cool and rewarding. You can’t ask for anything better than that, can you? I had a great time talking with people from all over the world, and it was very exciting to hear how different teams are using FirstRain daily. Sure, the “fancy-smancy” hotel and delicious food, we’re a great perk for all, but the best part was coming back to California knowing that FirstRain is delivering the customer intelligence they need, where they need it, and that their sales teams are WINNING with FirstRain!
On October 17th, 2012, our amazing COO, YY Lee will speak at the Semantic Technology and Business Conference. Her session, “Expanding Your Horizons: Using Cross-Domain Semantics to Deliver Higher Impact Intelligence“ will present how FirstRain has tackled the challenge of delivering customer intelligence across many different business domains. The session takes place at 9:30am-10:00am at the Grand Ballroom.
The Semantic Technology and Business Conference takes place from October 15th-October 17th in New York City. The conference will host numerous sessions from diverse experts in many industries, as well as an expo hall exhibiting the newest semantic and big data tools and developments. For more information, email me at email@example.com.