Stories are probably the most powerful thing humans have ever created. Nothing drives us to action, pulls us closer, or gives us fulfillment like a story can.
When you think about the earliest humans coming together to form tribes, it’s easy to imagine they were probably trading stories of how they found water sources or how they got attacked by sabretooths (so don’t go over that way). Stories are the building blocks of communities, cultures, and civilizations. When we define ourselves or the accomplishments of our greatest individuals, we are always doing so in story form.
Today, with everyone accepting the notion of split-second attention spans, people still gather in droves to sit in a dark room and (for the most part) not look at their phones, not talk to each other, and sit in silence for hours watching a story. Good stories will hold our attentions because they are so powerful.
No matter what business you’re in, you’re going to be dealing with people. That’s obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how to communicate with them to get what you want. If you can learn to craft your website with a story-driven concept, then you’ll get more visitors to take your desired action. We’ve come up with our 3 suggestions for how to use the power of story-telling in your website.
Don’t make it (all) about you.
Trust is a peculiar thing. We will read through dozens of online reviews from people we don’t know and will never meet, but we’ll trust them as much as we might trust the suggestion from a close friend. And if someone clearly and accurately articulates a problem we’re struggling with, then we automatically assume they have the solution.
To gain someone’s trust, you have to say what they want to hear. Don’t lie or be disingenuous, but don’t talk about things they have no interest in.
A great way to get someone to stop listening is to talk constantly about how great you are. People primarily care about themselves and their problems. People are obsessed with their own stories, and that’s ok. That’s something you can use to connect with them so they will trust you.
Your business solves a problem for your customers. Whatever your business is, it exists to solve a problem. Before people interact with your business, they in a state of struggle. There’s a story there. You don’t have to be completely negative, but you need your customers to know that you understand their situation.
Avoid starting your message with your accolades and accomplishments. People don’t care about you nearly as much as they care about themselves. Demonstrate you have a true and clear understanding of their situation by telling their story back to them, and your customers will trust that your business has a viable solution to consider.
Be clear with the transformation you provide.
After your customers see their story in your message, they’ll naturally want to hear what your business does about that. Your product or service provides transformation for your customers. They come to you in a state of struggle because they want to be transformed.
Here is where you can shift the focus onto your business. It’s your turn to share your story and how it intersects with your customers story. That intersection is where you transform people.
Facts, figures, and accomplishments can help, but they need to be supporting characters in your story. It’s much better to focus on why your business wants to help people transform and how you address every pain point in their stories.
See that? You also need to balance your message here with your customer’s story. Keep them involved and never take the attention off of them for too long. They will get bored and find something else to validate their feelings. By maintaining a certain level of focus on your customers problem and how you transform them, you are validating what they’re going through by saying their story is important enough for your business to exist.
After you have identified how your story intersects with your customer’s story, there’s one more major way to use stories.
Inspire your visitors.
After your business transforms a customer, their life is changed for the better. That change can be fleeting or permanent, but it’s a real change that your customers want.
Promise that change to them. You’ve shown that you understand their story, and you’ve shared your story and how you help people like them. Now is the time to make the promise that they will get the change they’re looking for.
Here’s where you can provide testimonials, studies, technical data, and anything else to support your promise. Now that you have started to gain trust, you can tell them a story of what life after interacting with your business looks like.
This story should be aspirational. It should have a promise of life being better for interacting with your business.
And we keep calling it a promise because that’s exactly what a brand is. Your brand is a promise. People should see your brand and reflexively recall what you and your customers aspire to. Brands are so much more than colors, fonts, graphics, etc.
To better understand what I mean, here are a couple examples:
Imagine if Apple released a car. Can you see it? Can you actually see the lines of the car, the interior, the colors, and the look on your face when you’re driving one. Can you imagine the droves of people waiting in line to test drive one?
Now imagine if Comcast opened a restaurant. Can you imagine what it would look like? What would you expect from the customer service? Would the food be any good? Would you even go inside to find out?
If you can start your message by acknowledging your customer’s story, demonstrating how your story intersects, and then promising a valuable change, you will grow your business with the innate power of a good story.