Since the dawn of humanity, people have been enthralled by the stories unfolding around them. Whether verbal, written, or performed; all the way from the campfire to the TV screen, it’s our nature to be drawn in by a well-crafted tale.  

When words were not enough, people began sharing their experiences through artistic means, as far back as 30,000 BC. What started with pictographs painted in caves, evolved to epic myths by 1,000 BC

Then, 300 years later, bam! The first story is written down on paper―The Epic of Gilgamesh. By 200 BC printed narratives started really taking hold, that is until the late 20th century when digital storytelling would take the lead. 

And, here we are, still enamored with the hero’s journey, the resolution of a tragedy, and a win for the underdog. 

The reality is that people form bonds through stories. Having the greatest product in the world will mean very little unless you can connect with your potential clients and customers. 

So, here’s how using storytelling can boost your business

Actors on stage performing a drama

From Book Pages to Web Pages

Though it can feel like magic, the indescribable feeling of being swept into someone else’s world via storytelling is actually hard science. The understanding of which can be utilized in your business, on your website, and anywhere you have the opportunity to connect with people. 

When done well, storytelling is a powerful tool for amplifying your brand, communicating your unique value, and sharing who you are at your core. 

First, the Science: Mirror Neurons

Everyone has that one friend notorious for spinning a great tale, who’s able to captivate you in with just the right amount of detail and a near hypnotic cadence of their voice. 

Before you know it, you feel like you’re walking in their universe, experiencing what they’re describing. When it’s over, you’re spat back out into the real world, having to reorient yourself. Simply put, a great tale will take you for a ride.

What’s happening behind the scenes, or the scientific explanation for this experience, is pretty compelling, itself. 

Mirror neurons, which respond when we’ve done an action and then witness another doing the same action, are responsible for that magical feeling. Our brains actually respond as though we are in the story, and through mirroring, we sync with the storyteller’s own neurology, creating a powerful connection. 

A bonus byproduct of this? Increased empathy.

The Importance of Storytelling in Business

While listing information about your product or service helps a potential customer understand what you have to offer, a well-crafted narrative will appeal to them on a deeper, emotional level. It’s what can change someone’s mind or expose them to a new perspective. A well-crafted narrative will have them feeling and sensing each detail.

According to Annette Simmons’ book The Story Factor, there are 6 types of stories we can use to help our clients get our business more clearly. Here’s a brief rundown:

“Who I am”: These stories help build trust and connect the reader to the humans behind the business.

“Why I’m Here”: Another useful way to build trust, this kind of story tells the reader explicitly why you chose to do what you do and why it’s meaningful to you.

“The Vision”: A vision story helps the reader see what they stand to gain from working with you. It paints a picture of a future where the problem you can potentially solve doesn’t exist. 

“Teaching”: This kind of story gives you an opportunity to show you understand the challenges your clients face, and how you can provide potential solutions. 

“Values-in-Action”: These are stories about real-life situations that display the values of your company. This is a way to demonstrate, rather than tell the reader what kind of business you have.

“I Know What You’re Thinking”: Anticipating a customer’s needs is valuable, and so is anticipating their concerns. This kind of story does just that by outlining the known questions that could be raised when considering a partnership.

Woman writing on computer

Digging Deeper on “The Why”

Storytelling helps people get to know you. They will see beyond your product or service and get familiar with your company’s voice, values, and even the people behind the brand. With consistency, over time they’ll be able to recognize you immediately, just like any other aspect of your branding. 

More importantly, according to Simon Sinek, a renowned leadership expert, speaking  to the “why” of your business appeals to the emotional center, or limbic, part of your audiences’ brain, further connecting them to your brand. 

When people understand your “why,” they are more likely to emotionally bond with you and your product. Reasoning, which occurs in the frontal lobe of the brain, while important, has little to do with the “why”. 

His theory, The Golden Circle, helps companies and organizations define what  truly lies at the core of their mission so they can more effectively communicate with their audiences.

Tips for Telling a Great Story

Telling a great tale means placing your audience into the story, experientially. 

Use rich descriptors to help your audience sense what’s happening, it will help place them in the scene you are creating. This takes practice, as all things do, but over time it becomes easy to notice where there are opportunities to create a sensory experience for your audience.

Instead of: “Bre wore a fanny pack to happy hour.” 

Try something like: “Arriving fashionably late to happy hour, Bre pushed through the patio doors into the sweltering heat of summer. Instantly noticeable was the multicolored fanny pack strapped around her waist, emphasizing the high rise of her lightly acid-washed jeans.”

Appeal to the reader’s senses. What did you see, smell, taste, hear, touch? 

Next, try sharing the emotion. Describing how you feel in a story can help your reader empathize and relate even more deeply. 

Instead of: “I liked Bre’s outfit.”  

Try something like: “It was inspiring to be in the presence of a woman who claimed space and on their terms. What may have simply seemed to others a fashionable outfit, to me, read as a statement: ‘This is how I feel most empowered.’”  

A compelling story presents facts and draws the audience in, with feeling. While it can be easier, you don’t have to be overly verbose, either. Great stories even release similar hormones (such as oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol) to those produced in real life. This powerful chemistry helps create a lasting connection.

Here’s a quick overview of what these chemicals do in relation to experiencing a well-told tale.

  • Oxytocin: Often labeled “the bonding hormone,” is what inspires empathy, connection, and trust. 
  • Dopamine: Aids in memory and information processing.
  • Cortisol: Assists in formulating memories.

It’s easy to see how even on a scientific level, a good story can create a lasting impact on your reader. 

Couple exchanging travel stories

Why is Storytelling Important to SEO?

Because Google is user-focused, it is more likely to push the most compelling and useful content up in search rankings. 

If people enjoy your content, they’ll spend more time on your website lowering your bounce rate, increasing average session duration, visiting more pages, and possibly converting; whether that’s something like filling out a form or making a purchase. 

When people become invested in your story, they’re far more likely to engage with your social content, too. This can look like commenting on or sharing it to other social media platforms or mediums, which in turn can also help boost traffic to your site, further increasing your rankings.  

Additionally, creating high-quality, content-rich blog posts, and deliverables like infographics or white papers for your website, means having plenty of opportunities to include relevant ranking keywords. This can show google that your website has the answers people are looking for when searching targeted queries.  

What is Our Take?

We love a good story so much so that our brains evolved to emotionally respond to what another person is describing; creating a powerful opportunity for meaningful connection. 

And, bonus, the Google loves it. A content rich website can be both informative and great for your businesses’ bottom line. They do say, the pen is mightier than the sword, after all, and with good reason.

If you are a small business owner, like us, you love what you do and you’ll want to shout it from the mountain topsTo learn more about other marketing tools and strategies, check out our blog, “Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency (and Strategy).

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