We’re kicking off our The Art of StorySelling series by exploring why humans need stories and why that makes them such effective content marketing tools.

We are storytelling creatures. From tales told around fires that warn of dangers passed through generations to the content we consume in the form of movies, music, literature, and, yes, even blog posts, stories are an important part of what makes us human. How we make sense of the world. How we connect with each other. How we explore our own inner selves.

Stories are a way of understanding the world around us and make sense of its infinite chaos and complexity. They provide us with a structure, a framework, a way of organizing and understanding the events and experiences of our lives, to help see patterns and themes that might otherwise be hidden. And they give us a sense of purpose, of direction, of meaning, as a connection to our past and a pathway to our future.

As marketers, we can draw a direct line from the campfires of old to the channels and strategies of today. The core of what we do is helping businesses connect with their audience, engage them emotionally, and inspire them to take action. In that sense, we’re not just storytellers – but storysellers.

What is StorySelling?

As the name implies, storyselling is the use of stories to sell a product or service.

The basic idea behind this content marketing technique is that people are more likely to be influenced by stories than by traditional sales pitches or advertisements. By telling a compelling story that highlights the benefits and features of a product or service, marketers can create an emotional connection with their target audience and persuade them to take action.

We’ll tell you more about how to craft stories that sell in our next installment, but the basic elements of effective storytelling in sales include:

  • A clear message: The story should have a clear and concise message that communicates the value proposition of the product or service.
  • Emotional resonance: The story should connect with the emotions and values of the target audience, creating a sense of empathy and understanding.
  • Authenticity: The story should be authentic and believable, reflecting the values and mission of the brand.
  • A call to action: The story should include a clear call to action that encourages the audience to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.

Examples of storytelling can be found in a wide range of marketing campaigns, from television commercials to social media posts. For instance, a car manufacturer might create a commercial that tells the story of a family taking a road trip in one of their vehicles, highlighting the car’s features and benefits while creating an emotional connection with the audience. Or a skincare brand might create a social media post that tells the story of a woman struggling with acne, and how their product helped her regain her confidence and achieve clear skin.

Story Selling vs Telling

While the terms “storyselling” and “storytelling” are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two approaches.

Storytelling is the art of crafting a narrative to communicate a message or idea. It can take many forms, from a simple anecdote to a complex and multi-layered story. The focus of storytelling is on creating a compelling narrative that captures the attention of the audience and communicates a message in an engaging and memorable way.

Storyselling, on the other hand, is a specific type of storytelling that is focused on selling a product, service, or idea. The goal of storyselling is to use storytelling techniques to create an emotional connection with the audience and persuade them to take a specific action, such as making a purchase, signing up for a service, or supporting a cause.

In other words, while storytelling can be used for a variety of purposes, storyselling is specifically geared towards achieving a marketing or sales objective.

Here are some more key differences between storytelling and storyselling:

  • Purpose: The purpose of storytelling is to entertain, inform, or inspire, while the purpose of storyselling is to sell a product, service, or idea.
  • Audience: The audience for storytelling can be anyone who is interested in the story, while the audience for storyselling is usually a specific target market or customer segment.
  • Content: Storytelling can cover a wide range of topics and themes, while storyselling is focused on the benefits and features of a specific product, service, or idea.
  • Call to action: While storytelling may or may not have a call to action, storyselling always includes a clear call to action that encourages the audience to take a specific action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a service.
  • Metrics: Storytelling may be evaluated based on its impact on the audience, such as the level of engagement or emotional response, while storyselling is typically evaluated based on its impact on sales, such as conversion rates or revenue generated.

Why You Should Start Selling with Stories

As a storyteller and a marketing professional, adding storyselling to your content marketing strategy can be a game changer – and here’s why:

Storyselling allows you to create an emotional connection with your audience. When you tell a story, you’re not just conveying information; you’re creating a narrative that your audience can relate to on a personal level. By tapping into their emotions and showing them how your product or service can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal, you can build trust and rapport with your audience, which can lead to increased engagement and brand loyalty.

Storyselling can help you stand out in a crowded market. In today’s world, consumers are bombarded with messages from all directions. To cut through the noise and capture their attention, you need to offer them something that’s unique and memorable. By using storytelling as a way to differentiate your brand and make a lasting impression, you can set yourself apart from the competition and build a loyal following of customers who are eager to hear more from you.

Storyselling can be a more effective way to communicate complex ideas and information. When you’re trying to explain a complicated concept or product, it can be challenging to do so in a way that’s both clear and engaging. By using storytelling to break down complex ideas into relatable and easy-to-understand narratives, you can make your message more accessible and compelling to your audience.

Storyselling can help you create content that’s more shareable and viral. People love to share stories that resonate with them and that they think others will enjoy. By creating content that’s not just informative, but also entertaining and emotionally engaging, you can increase the chances that your content will be shared on social media and other platforms, which can help you reach a wider audience and increase your brand’s visibility.

Storyselling can be a powerful way to build your brand’s identity and reputation. By crafting a consistent narrative that aligns with your brand’s values and mission, you can create a compelling brand story that resonates with your audience and helps them understand who you are and what you stand for. This can help you build a loyal following of customers who are passionate about your brand and eager to support you.

To Be Continued…

Now that we have a good understanding of what storyselling is and the benefits that it can bring to your marketing efforts, how the heck do you actually do it?

Check out the next part of our series, which dives into the nitty-gritty of crafting compelling stories that engage and persuade your audience to take action, or download our whitepaper, Once Upon a Time: How StorySelling Can Supercharge Your Sales and Marketing, to learn more about incorporating storyselling into your marketing strategy.

And if you’re ready to take your marketing game to the next level, we’re always here to help. Contact us to craft a content marketing strategy that will make your competitors green with envy.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Tips and Strategies to Supercharge Your Sales with Content Marketing

Now that you understand the basics, download Building Blocks for Telling Stories that Sell. It’s the ultimate guide to incorporating storytelling into your marketing strategy and boosting results!

This article was originally posted in 2011 under the title The Art of StorySelling (Part One). Content and title have been updated to reflect current content marketing trends.