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Andrea Hill

3 Elements You Must Have When Telling Stories in Your Marketing

And if you don’t, you might as well throw your money out the window.




SEVERAL YEARS AGO, one couldn’t read a marketing article without hearing we were all supposed to be storytellers. Honestly, I was relieved when people moved on to other marketing topics, because in all the talk about storytelling, the point went missing.

Stories are not simply for entertainment; they are powerful forms of communication. They make it easier for us to share complex ideas and feelings in an accessible way that draws listeners in. If you want to teach a teenager about unexpected consequences, lecturing them in the heat of the moment is guaranteed to fail. You’ll be far more effective if you wait for a well-timed opening to share a gripping, funny, or startling story about a hard lesson you once learned.

Much of what marketers got out of the “you need to tell stories” moment was that they should narrate the particulars of someone’s engagement, how a piece of jewelry was made, or the history of the company. But facts and details are to stories what a slice of white bread is to bread pudding.

Stories do work, but to be effective, they must include a few key components.

Emotion. Well-crafted stories arouse emotion. A buyer who can’t decide may need reassurance. A buyer who can’t give herself permission may need an injection of joy. Consider which emotion you want each story to evoke.

Stakes. Good stories have stakes. The owner was facing failure. The employee had lost her confidence. The supplier had to choose between right and wrong. The man was terrified she would say no. Stakes are what draw a person into your story.


Story arc. Every story has a beginning, an end, and a path that connects the two. Along that arc, something or someone changes. If there’s no beginning, no path, and no transformation, you didn’t tell a story, you just stated facts and details.

Once you understand what a story is and does, you can use storytelling to create powerful marketing. Drawing on your own memories and experiences and those of your employees and customers, you could publish endless stories in your blog or newsletter that share your vision and values and help people connect with your company.

Develop a collection of short, impactful company history stories intended to help customers feel they are part of your shared experience. Encourage everyone to memorize these stories so they can share the right stories in the right moments. Create mini-series of social media posts about these stories, all of which link back to the full story.

Any time you tell a customer’s story, make sure it has emotion, stakes, and a story arc. Not only is this better storytelling, but it requires you to ask thoughtful questions and show keen interest in your customer’s experience.

Your business has hundreds of stories to tell, and if you tell them well, you will create strong emotional bonds with your present and future customers. This is the real reason for storytelling in marketing … to communicate with customers in a way that builds emotional bonds with your brand.




This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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