Think of your favourite commercial. Not the one that made you laugh the hardest. Not the one that helped you learn about a new product. The one that makes you cry. Every. Single. Time.

That’s the commercial I want you to think about.

There was a commercial that aired a lot around here that had a similar effect on people. It was about hockey in the wintertime in small town Canada. It spoke to many Canadians as being as close to the story of their lives as possible, without actually being their story.

As you might expect, this resonated with a lot of people and this commercial aired for years.

I mean just check this out.

Fighting back any tears? I don’t blame you. It’s an excellent commercial, even if all it does it show just how well Tim Hortons knows it’s target demographic.

This commercial was so successful that they repeated their efforts a few times over the years with similar commercials.

Regardless of what you think of the Tim Hortons and their coffee, these commercials are genius and they’re brilliant for one particular reason: they tell a story that literally spoke to millions of Canadians. Just like the commercial you thought of spoke to you.

And, it drives home the point, at least for me, that stories are a necessary and very powerful part of marketing. Or, at the very least, it should be, especially when it comes to your content marketing efforts.

If you’re not using your online presence to tell your story (be it the story of your brand, your product, your process, your service, whatever), you’re missing on a lot of potential business.

Even if you’re a tech company, stories matter. You can probably think of several important brand stories off the top of your head (like how Apple got started and the early days of Google and Amazon).

Being able to tell your story not just well (like I talk about here), but in such a way it keeps people coming back is one of those things that can turn your business from something that is just puttering along, to something that people talk about and buy from.

There’s a few reasons stories can help.

1. Stories help you connect with your audience

Much like the hockey commercial I mentioned at the beginning of the post was able to speak to millions of Canadians, a good story speaks directly to your audience. The whole point of content is based around the idea of relationship building. Yes, eventually you want to make a sale, but as far as content is concerned, you’re creating a connection.

 

People connect with stories. It’s something that people have used since language first started coming together. Cave paintings told stories. Early songs told stories. Poetry told stories. These stories were used to bring people together, share information and help entertain us.

Not much has changed since those early days.

We still use our stories to connect to people. In fact, when it comes to marketing, fewer things foster that connection than a well told story. It helps people understand the your motivations, your business, your passion and why you’re doing what you’re doing. In a marketplace that is flooded with people who offer the same service, having an exceptional story (and telling it well) can be the thing that separates you from everyone else.

Like the hockey commercials I posted above, being able to make an emotional connection to your audience is key.

2. Your story makes you interesting (and people like interesting)

On the surface, I’m not a super interesting person. I’m quiet. I keep to myself. I read a lot. Play guitar. And, if you can get me talking about something in a social setting, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll turn the conversation around to you and let you do most of the talking.

But, if you catch me at the right moment, or ask me the right questions, you’ll discover that I’m actually a fairly adventurous person. My story involves swimming with sharks, dealing with polar bears, lots of time spent wandering around alone in the mountains. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Not everyone’s story includes polar bears, but I bet you have at least one story to tell that people just love. That comes up time and time again. Everyone has one. It might not resonate with all your friends, but it will really connect with some people. These are the people you should focus your efforts on.

People who find you interesting, are very likely going to be your biggest supports. It’s one of the reasons that your friends and family are often your biggest supporters in the first few years that you’re running your business (even if that support is only in the form of cheerleading and signal boosting).

Creating this sense of interest helps you stay in the minds of the people you’ve made that connection with. This helps a lot with someone who isn’t quite to the point where they’re ready to buy. Some people (like me) take a long time to make decisions around purchasing. They’ll do a few trials runs of a product (if that’s possible). They’ll think about it and think about it and think about it. Sometimes, they may even decide that they don’t actually need the product. But, if you’re able to connect with someone through your story in a way that is meaningful (and interesting), you can help ensure that you are the one they decide to go with when it’s time to buy.

3. Stories are memorable

I touched on this in the last point, but this idea is worth talking about more. Stories stick with people. Just like the coffee commercial, a good story has a way of sticking with people for years. It hangs around in the background and comes back to you at times when you least expect it (or when you do something that triggers that memory).

For example, think of your favourite children’s book from when you were a child. What is it? Can you remember the story? What’s your favourite part?

Not surprisingly, for me that was a book called The Little Fish That Got Away. I first found that the book when I was a preschooler in Florida. I had no idea what the book was about, beyond the fact that there were all these fish in it, but I read the book every single day.

I still think of that book all the time. When I was finally able to read the book, I loved it even more. I even got my own copy a couple of years later when I was in grade one back in Canada (there’s more of that story of mine creeping in). I still have that copy, too.

This is what you want. You want your story to be the one that little kid in Florida read every day and sought out for two years after he lost access to the copy he used to read.

You want your story to be the one that sits on a shelf to this day.

You want your story to be compelling enough to do all these things and more.

 

And, you know what, it is.

The problem is that sometimes you’re so caught up in trying to make your business work that you either don’t think to tell your story or, more likely, you’ve told it so many times you’ve forgotten that it’s special.

This is totally understandable. Telling your own story can be a painful experience sometimes (not usually physically or emotionally, but just tough if you don’t like talking about yourself), especially if you have to do it over and over again to people.

I have a long history of not really telling people my story, which basically means I have a long history of selling myself short. You don’t want to do that, especially if you’re just starting out. You want your story to stand up and scream HERE I AM! You want to connect with people. You want to grow that relationship from a casual one, into a business one, and, of course, the best way to do that is with your content.

If you’re struggling to tell your story, or if you’re not sure you’re telling your story correctly, contact me. We can figure out the best way to tell your story and, best of all, I can help you tell it.

Let’s tell your story.

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