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How to Use Storytelling to Promote Your Business

It’s been shown that people respond to stories – not data. 

When information is put into a story that elicits an emotional response, it has more impact. That’s why companies go beyond product placement, preferring to have their products be part of the story on successful TV shows. On “Modern Family” an entire episode revolved around TV dad, Phil, wanting to get an iPad for his birthday. The show aired two days prior to the release of the iPad. We all related to Phil’s pursuit of the uber-cool iPad, surely a factor in it becoming the “I’ve-got-to-have-it” product of the year. It cost the company nothing and Apple got a formidable amount of bites.

Note to Apple: Send Judy Carter an iPad and she’ll work you into her life story.

Stories are a powerful tool for marketing your products. And you need not be Apple to use them.  As a motivational speaker, my Back of the Room (BOR) sales exploded when, rather than simply announcing that I would be SELLING my book, I told a STORY about my book.

Marketing Through Storytelling

Basic Story Structure is this -- a hero starts with a MESS and ends in SUCCESS. It may not be the success he or she had in mind, but in all effective stories, our hero learns something and benefits.

The story of my first book, Stand-Up Comedy: The Book starts with how I lost my way after my mom died. I quit working comedy clubs and wrote a book on how to do stand-up. It was widely read – by 59 book agents, all of whom rejected it. The story got more miserable as I made one last attempt to get a role on a sitcom and found out at the airport that the flight I’d booked to get to the audition had been cancelled. Watching a long line of angry people mouthing off at the United Airlines agent, I made a choice to express compassion and appreciation. As I say in my speech on “Laughing Your Way out of Stress:”

“No one can MAKE you angry. Someone can MAKE you a Daiquiri. Someone can MAKE you pregnant… in that order. But, no one can MAKE you angry. You can MAKE a humor choice.”

Because I connected with the gate attendant and gave him the only laugh he probably had that day, he put me in First Class. As I was unfolding my linen napkin, I found out I was sitting next to a literary agent, one of the few who HADN’T rejected me. She offered to read my book. Random House liked it. So did Oprah. The rest is history. The sitcom I never auditioned for was “Go Bananas.” It didn’t go anywhere, but my career did. I became a best-selling author with a speaking career.

That’s when I hold up my book, and now it’s no longer just a book, but a success story that they want to be a part of.

What is the STORY of your book, your song, your last job? Get a handle on your story and make yourself memorable! Sorry, you can’t use the Apple logo; you’ll have to get your own.

3 Stories EVERY Business Person needs to know:

1. Your Customer's Mess-2-Success Story. (Credential Story) This is a story starring your customer or client that starts with them being a MESS. But, then they meet you, and with your help they end up a SUCCESS. 

2. Your own hero's journey from mess-2-success. People are more likely to trust others who have EARNED their success.  The CEO of Bestbuy started as a stock boy. Revealing your struggle creates your brand.

3. Your products mess-2-success story.  Every product or company has a story about starting with difficulties and ending up successful. Post-It notes was built on glue that didn't stick so good -- to a highly successful product. MS started in a garage without an office, and now everyone buys "Office." What is your company's mess-2-success story?


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