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Want to use storytelling to make an impression on your customers?

Michael and Dave Neelsen of StoryFirst Media shared scientific research that shows how we process stories. They spoke to a packed crowd at AMA Madison’s September Craft Marketing event at the Vintage Brewing Company. They also offered strategic questions to consider when developing those stories. 

It’s no surprise that customers love stories. Oral storytelling reaches back 100,000 years, and the importance of that tradition continues today. 

The Neelsens shared a Steve Jobs quote: “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.”

Use a Formula to Create Stories

What’s a compelling story? 

Michael said, “It reaches your audience’s conscious mind and memory vividly with the content and form that you intended.” Or consider this storytelling formula: In the beginning, _______. But then, _______. Therefore, ____________.

To get attention from your audience, use stories to make a difference.

“Stories speak to the right brain, which is less rigid and more moldable (impressionable,)” the father-son duo explained. “The story is experienced by the right brain, and then the left brain tries to make sense of it.”

Want to influence people? The right brain is the key to influence, while the left brain argues.

The Controlling Idea

The Neelsens used characters Dirty Harry and Sherlock Holmes to explain a key concept: The Controlling Idea. If there’s a conflict, both characters want justice. Dirty Harry uses a .44 magnum and often shoots the bad guy. Sherlock solves a crime because he’s smarter than the bad guy. The different approaches work for each character.

According to the controlling idea, “the Value at Stake +/- because Character does Decisive Action.”

To create an exciting story, don’t shy away from obstacles. You need them to demonstrate how the Hero – typically the client – solves a problem – with your firm’s help. The story must align with your internal values and beliefs, they explained.

The Story Meeting Mantra

Staying on-brand can be tough when it comes to storytelling. The Neelsens offered questions that marketers can use during brainstorming sessions:

● Who is the audience?

● What do they need?

● What is keeping them from obtaining it?

● What do we want them to do?

● What is our Controlling Idea?

Want to stand out? It will be tough to differentiate your firm by focusing on services. Instead, find engaging stories that will reach your market and make a difference.

Thanks, Michael and Dave Neelsen and all in attendance.

Don’t Miss October’s Craft Marketing Event

Join us Oct. 22 for the next Craft Marketing event: Marketing and Sales: A Modern Day Love Story at 5:30 p.m. at Vintage Brewing. Cynthia Beiler of Leveraged Mind Consulting will explain how marketing and sales teams both benefit when they understand each other’s worlds.

Written by: Leslie Blaize 

Leslie Blaize, Certified Professional Services Marketer, is the owner of Blaize Communications. She crafts B2B copy with a focus on the Architectural/Engineering/Construction industry.

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