The ‘Big 3’ Essential Ingredients for Getting Sales with Stories

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The ‘Big 3’ Essential Ingredients for Getting Sales with Stories

Stories are more powerful than features and benefits in winning sales. That’s because 100% of sales are made emotionally first…and stories allow you to connect with people’s emotions.

In today’s digital world your stories are one of the most powerful tools you have to break through the noise, reach your ideal customer and make your business stand out. Using Story Led Marketing you can use them at every stage of the acquisition journey to guide your dream customer from not knowing you through to building trust and converting them into a buyer of your products or services.

To be successful in business and story led marketing you need three essential ingredients. These three things provide the foundational clarity you need to get your message clear and get it to the right people, but so often people miss them out and that is why businesses fail.

So, what are they and why do we need them?

The first ingredient is the three pillar stories.

Stories are the secret weapon of business success, but which ones do we need when we’re starting out?

The first story you need is that of your target customer. This story needs to describe them and their world and the problem and underlying pain they want to solve. The story should highlight the impact the problem is having on them, and other people or things affected by it.

So many people struggle with this, even if their own story mirrors their target customer, because they are further on in the journey with an expert, rather than beginner’s mindset. But this is a story you need to understand because it will validate whether there is a demand for what you are doing and provide you with the insight, language and levers you need to use in your other stories and in your marketing messages.

Many businesses have failed to fully consider the customer story and the consequences can be dire. In 1994 someone who must have dearly loved their pet…a lot! came up with the idea of selling bottled water for cats and dogs, and Thirsty Cat and Thirsty Dog were launched. It had vitamins and flavours and the cat version tasted of tangy fish, and the dog one tasted of crispy beef. Clearly, the problem and pain that the inventor had about their pets drinking tap water was not experienced at all, or to the degree that people were happy to splash out, excuse the pun, on pricey bottled water for their pooch or pussy!

The second story is your origin story. This describes the journey you’ve been on, how you discovered the product or service you offer, and the difference it has made to your life. It needs to reflect the story of your target customer and show them that it is possible to get what they want most, and that you can help them get it.

If you can get this story right it can make you a lot of money. You can use it in so many marketing contexts, and it will really help people connect with you, and get to know, like and trust you.

Pat Flynn, who has a very successful online business and podcast, tells the story of how he was laid off from his dream job in the economic crash of 2008 and how it turned out to be one of the best things that happened to him because it made him start his own business which has since made him financially free and enabled him to never again have his livelihood in the hands of someone else. Although the people that aspire to achieve the same results as Pat, may not have had exactly the same situation force their hand, (although many people might have done), they can relate to his pain and his desire, and he has shown them that their dream is not an impossible one.

The third story is the story of the person or business that took the leap of faith and used the product or service you offer, (ideally using you to get it). It’s like a case study, but sometimes they can be cold, and this is definitely not supposed to be. Like the other stories it should have emotion and drama and take your potential customer on the same journey, so that they are experiencing what it would be like to have the same results.

These stories are so valuable because not only do they act as social proof of what you are selling, but they allow you to bring the experience closer to where your target customer is starting from. You may be a few years ahead, but this person is likely to be only months or weeks ahead of where they are.

The next essential ingredient is your irresistible offer.

As well as it being imperative you have clarity on all aspects of your target customers situation, in order to be successful in business, you need to be clear on what it is that you’re offering and why they absolutely must have it. Your irresistible offer must meet these three criteria.

It needs to be in some sort of niche of the main sub market you’re serving. It’s important that you choose a market that has some competition, because it shows that there is demand… aside from completely misunderstanding their target customer, the bottled pet water people might have noticed that there wasn’t anyone else selling liquid refreshment for pets!

So, yes there needs to be a bit of competition, but then you need to niche down and create a further submarket for your product or service. Years ago, when I read Tim Ferris’ book the Four-Hour Work Week, I remember reading about a woman who loved yoga and climbing, so she combined the two and offered a yoga class for climbers. That’s a great example of creating your own niche, so the competition disappears.

Your offer also needs to be a new opportunity for your target customer. People hate to fail, and if you position your offer as an improvement, that builds on something they have already been failing at, then they’re unlikely to be as attracted by your product or service. Essentially what you’ll be saying is that it was their fault they didn’t get results rather than the system.

The weight loss market is a great example here, where if you are offering me a new, improved version of the paleo diet and I’ve not lost any weight doing the paleo diet before, then I’m unlikely to buy. I want something new that lets me off the hook, that I haven’t got baggage with, and allows me to start afresh.

Lastly, your offer needs to address your target customer’s pain point and offer them a solution. This should be a ‘no brainer’ but if you haven’t clarified who your target customer is, and really got under their skin, then you won’t necessarily be able to get the right ‘hook’ to pull them in and get them to pay attention to your message.

The final ingredient is understanding the customer acquisition journey. Many of us might have heard that before people will buy, they need to know, like and trust you… and this is true…but it misses out a number of gateways you need to take your customer through before you get to those ones.

You need to consider whether your potential customer even knows they have a problem. None of us thought we needed an iPod or an iPad, until Steve Jobs made us aware that we most certainly did and that he had the solution to our lack of tech in this area.

There are actually six stages on the customer acquisition journey and story led marketing is all about using your stories to guide your customer through them into your world and to buying your product or service.

So, to recap… to be successful in business and story led marketing there are three essential ingredients:

The Three Pillar Stories

The Irresistible Offer

And Understanding the Customer Acquisition Journey.

Next steps:

  • I have put an audio together to guide you through creating your first pillar story – and you can listen to that here.
  • If you would like to check if you have clarity on the three essential ingredients for your business, so that you have a strong foundation for your marketing then you can book in for a free ‘Big 3’ audit call with me on ‘Zoom’ here.
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  • Derek Taylor

    Hey Sarah,

    Would love to schedule a call with you. Let me know when you are available.

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