You are a storyteller. Everyone is. I truly belive this. Some people are born a better storyteller than others, but we all posses certain storyteller traits that help us share information and knowledge. Why may this help you in the business world, and take your brand to epic heights? Because we all trust stories, and brands who care to share their own tale connect with our desires. These desires hide deep within our human make-up, because, yes, that’s right, you are a storyteller.
We may have access to every snippet of information within a few clicks today, but this is an overnight sensation. For centuries, we learned by sharing stories, which made the ‘Storyteller’ a force to reckon with. You don’t just lose this kind of trust, and although the storyteller may not be as valuable these days, they remain as important as ever in our hearts.
This is why your inner storyteller can help transform your brand into an innovative and awesome machine. Call it fluff if you like, but today’s forward-thinking businesses capture our heart’s through emotional messages that matter. They share their story. They share their staff’s story. They share your story, as the customer/client/reader/audience.
They embrace their inner storyteller, and so can you.
5 SECRET STORYTELLER TRAITS YOU POSSESS
Like I say, some people are born a better storyteller than others. In the same way certain athletes are born with an innate physical presence or speed, some folk are natural storytellers. Take my buddy Arnold du Toit, for instance, the founder of RolleyGolf.
Arnold isn’t a writer or actor (the type of people you associate with storytelling), and isn’t a prolific reader (you have to sit down longer than 10 minutes to read), but is an expert storyteller. When selling to people, he shares stories and achieves the phenomena I call, ‘leaning in‘.
I’m sure you know a few people who achieve this effortlessly, where they entice you to lean in when they speak. I’ve seen people lean in towards Arnold. I’ve leant in myself. It doesn’t just happen when he sells, but chats to friends and strangers alike. He recently did a series of talks at a few English Universities, and much of the audience flocked to Twitter, saying things like:
@Arnolddutoit really enjoyed your talk at entrepreneurs live! You were inspiring and really made us laugh 🙂
— Laura Bryan (@Lawsy_b) October 16, 2014
@Arnolddutoit for someone who claims he’s very unintelligent, you sure do make a great story-teller haha all the best for the future Arnold.
— Rezwan Uddin (@RezwanUddin) October 16, 2014
It may come easier to Arnold, but he doesn’t do a damn thing you and I can’t. Like I keep saying, you are a storyteller. It’s embedded in the way we communicate, and when in our natural environment (aka: the pub), we do nothing but share stories.
Your inner storyteller can help your brand thrive, not just in the way YOU communicate, but how your entire business does (in its marketing, visuals, product, services, everything…). I’d like to share 5 Storyteller Traits with you today, which I’m certain you already possess. I hope they inspire you to bring that inner storyteller of yours out to play.
STORYTELLER TRAIT 1: EMPATHY
Unless you’re a sociopath, you should possess a decent amount of empathy. It’s a powerful emotion, and in my opinion, makes or breaks a story. For example, my second novel, TICK to the TOCK, follows a young man with brain cancer, and how he deals with the final few months of his life.
I’ve never dealt with cancer, or had a loved one go through this ordeal, yet wrote 80,000 words about it. How? How could I write about such a traumatic journey when I haven’t seen it first hand? EMPATHY, that’s how! I have the abilitiy to close my eyes and imagine what it’s like and how it feels and what I’d say. With a sprinkle of research here and there, it’s all I need.
When it comes to your brand, empthy plays a vital role, because your job as a storyteller isn’t just to tell your story, but share it in a manner that knocks your customers socks off. Perform market research by all means, and understand them better, but the best thing you can do is step into their shoes and imagine what life’s like through their eyes.
Empathy provides a complete new insight into what you do and how you do it, and introduces you to fresh ideas and opportunities. It doesn’t stop with your customers either, because empathy helps you appreciate your staff better, and suppliers, and whether your customer service ticks all the boxes, or if your product could offer a smidgen more.
Empathy helps you become a better storyteller, and create those special lean in moments. The fact you step into your customers shoes and try understand them, rather than how to sell to them, sets you apart from the vast majority.
STORYTELLER TRAIT 2: MEMORIES
Assuming you’re over the age of four, I’m sure you have lots of memories. Your brand has memories, too. Through your eyes, and your staff’s, and your customers, and old advertising material, and press clippings, and every conceivable touch-point you can imagine, you’re left with lots and lots and lots of memories.
These memories hold stories, and these stories provide your inner storyteller everything it needs.
Because when you share your brand story, it isn’t about your product or how much your customer can save. You’re not selling to them, rather, speaking with them. You’re sharing a story in the hope they lean in, and people lean in when you tickle their attention and slap their curiosity.
Whenever I speak to a potential client, I’m interested to hear how long they’ve been in existence, and if they have a couple of looooooooong serving staff members. These are the people I wish to speak to. They’re full of stories and anecdotes, and within these are the snippets your story needs.
A good storyteller doesn’t search for facts or figures, rather their mind for times they can share.
A good storyteller listens to other people and takes everything in.
A good storyteller doesn’t dismiss a memory as boring, just because a grand adventure didn’t take place, for enticing stories come in all shapes and sizes.
Take the story behind my name, Turndog, for example. People often assume there must be a crazy adventure behind its inception, but it all began at a normal Rugby Session, on a normal midweek night, from a normal guy named Luke. Nothing special, yet at the same time, fundamental to me, my brand, and how I communicate to everyone.
STORYTELLER TRAIT 3: CONFLICT
I don’t hate romantic comedies, but I only watch them when I desire an easy to digest movie. They don’t require a great deal of thought, largely because you know what happens before the opening scene. Sure, there’s conflict, but it’s predictable and the same each time, which defeats the whole point of conflict, if you ask me.
Stories need conflict. If a story doesn’t have conflict, it cannot capture your attention. As a storyteller, you’ll never entice your customer to lean in. Never. Never ever. Which, as I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, isn’t good.
This doesn’t mean you need to fill your brand story with numerous twists and turns and cliffhangers, but it does require unpredicable moments from time-to-time. Conflict comes in many forms, too, because in its simplest structure it means disrupting an idea, creating disagreement, or shoving someone out of their comfort zone.
Huit Jeans add conflict to their story by showing you how a talented town descended into disrepair due to greed and globalisation.
SuperJam’s story focuses on their 100% Fruit Jams, which creates a battle in their cusotmer’s minds, and the question: “what have I been eating all this time?“
Your brand story doens’t need a bunch of twists and turns and melodrama, but it does need to ruffle a few feathers and make your customer think. Good stories keep your attention. A good storyteller entices you to lean in, not once or twice, but throughout. Conflict achieves this, and I assure you, your story’s full of it
STORYTELLER TRAIT 4: CREATIVITY
I often speak at Primary Schools, and my sole message to the kids is this: “You are more creative than me. At this stage in your life, your imagination is insane and beautiful.“
Growing up, unfortunately, has a tendency to sap our imagination and creativity. Between school and work and rules, we try fit our thinking into a box, which helps from time-to-time, because it ensures we get the job done. But for the most part, it sucks. When it comes to your inner storyteller, it sucks x 1000.
The reason you read this, and the reason you’re turning to brand storytelling in the first place, is to stand out from the crowd. We live in a chaotic society, and the best ideas mean nothing unless you connect with the right people. If your creativity doesn’t roam free, you’ll produce the same-old-same-old. Nobody cares about the same-old-same-old.
Just like you have a friend who entices you to lean in, you have a few that, no matter how interesting the subject, leave you yawning and desperate to escape. I regret to inform you, but the vast majority of brands drive me away, too. I know they have an interesting story, but it’s bland and boring. I don’t have time for it. Your customers don’t have time for it, either.
You need to think outside of the box and innovate the heck out of your story. You were born with a wonderful imagination, and your creativity remains desperate to escape and join the party. As a storyteller, it’s imperative you let it break free. Without creativity, everything you create means nothing.
STORYTELLER TRAIT 5: FIRST HAND EXPEREINCE WITH STORIES
The final, and possibly most important storyteller trait you own is, experience. From a young age, stories play a large part in your life. Through fairytales and books and movies, they entertained you. Through teachers and mentors and those you look up to, they taught you. Through friends and strangers and crazy adventures, they inspired you.
You know what makes a good story. You’ve leant in many times before, and my guess is, you’ve made others lean in, too.
Be conscious of this. Think about those people in your life that hook you with their tales each and every time. Think about people like Arnold. Consider the brands you admire, and the people, authors, musicians, and actors you adore.
Why do you? How do they do it? What do they do? What could you do to achieve this, too?
You are a storyteller, and you understand their inner-workings far better than you know. Like I said in the beginning, it’s embedded in your human make-up, so all you have to do is become conscious of this, and question how you can improve it… take it to the next level… hook your customer…
YOU ARE A STORYTELLER – YOU HAVE THE POWER
As an author, people often ask me how I come up with my ideas. From the outside, it must seem rather impressive to create a fictional world from nothing. The truth is, I don’t possess anything you don’t. I’m not special. The same applies to brand storytelling. Your brand has a story, and you are a storyteller, and all the pieces await patiently for you to line them up.
I consider it a mindset instead of a skill. Some people (like Arnold) are born a grand storyteller, just like certain athletes are destined to run fast. But pace only takes you so far in sport, and it’s those who work the hardest that climb to the top.
A natural storyteller is great, but someone conciously wondering how they can create better stories… more immersive stories… stories that make their customers lean in… these are the folk I admire the most. This is the storyteller who stands out, and today’s forward-thinking brands are those doing just this.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you spend a few minutes appreciating your inner storyteller today. They’re desperate to escape, and from first-hand expeirence, once you let them out, cool-ass shit happens. But of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to message me on FACEBOOK or TWITTER (this is where the cool convo’s take palce).
– – – – – – – –
DID YOU ENJOY THIS POST?
If you liked this post, found value in it, and would like to be super awesome, please do the following TWO things:.
STEP 1: JOIN THE FREE 30 DAY BRAND STORY COURSE AND RECEIVE:
- 14 Actionable Emails & Challenges
- 15+ Exclusive Downloads, Books & Videos
- Secret Insight into My Discover, Create & Share Technique
- One-on-One Access to ME – a Guy Who Breathes Brand Stories
- My Weekly Newsletter Packed with Insight, Giveaways & Awesome