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Mastering Storytelling to Avoid Selling to Your Prospects

Tips for storytelling to avoid having to sell your products or service

Cultures both ancient and modern have strong storytelling traditions. Our brains are wired to share and process information through storytelling. Information presented as a story has the power to inform, influence and motivate.

Story marketing is the process of attracting and engaging customers through story – their story, rather than yours. Instead of the ‘buy our product’ messages of typical marketing campaigns, story marketing tells the customer story and motivates them to connect with your company as a solution to their problem or a way to a better life. Quite simply, successful story marketing is based on a sharp, effective company brand. A sharp, effective company brand has at its source a clear, focused message.

Your Story Toolkit

When you think of a well-equipped pantry in a kitchen prepped for a dinner party, what things would it include? Essentials would be spices and condiments, sharp knives, utensils, pans – items that are needed for nearly every cooking project. And, what brings all of this to success is the human element – a person or people who can plan, cook, serve, clean up, and shop to stock up for the next meal.

Your story toolkit is similar. There are ingredients and people that will help tell any company story. Some ingredients are:

  • Your history: the company, the founder

  • Your location: its relationship to your company and your company’s relationship to the community

  • Your company values

  • Your company’s community or charitable causes

  • Your product/service specifications

  • Your track record

  • Your motivation: what keeps you coming to work/inventing new things/doing what your company does best?

People in your organization who can help tell your story:

  • Founder/owner

  • Staff who can bring an ingredient to life

  • Suppliers/colleagues

  • Customer testimonials

What's in a Story?

Stories wrap data and details in a sensory package that provides energy and meaning. A well-told story delivers both information and sensation that moves the recipient to action. They may cry at the movie or at the end of the book. They may pick up the phone and call their city council. Or they may buy your product.

That is what story marketing does: it harnesses the power of storytelling, blending it with the expert messaging of your company and intent of your marketing plan, and delivering to the customer an experience that will attract their attention and encourage them to follow your call to action. It is the documentary that educates while entertaining, the song that lifts our mood while lyrics rewritten to match its tune help us memorize facts for a biology test. It is the story that speaks to your customer and encourages them to support your brand, campaign, or cause.

Ingredients of a Good Story

Early stories were essential to human survival by what they told us. The story was simple. Fire hot, do not touch. Fire hot, good for warmth. We like warmth. We need warmth to survive cold night. Fire hot, good for cooking. Cooked food tastes good. Better than raw food. Big animal, danger. Hide. Little animal, food. Kill.

As our brains and societies evolved, stories became more complex and more versatile. Stories shared knowledge, increased wealth, secured political power and revolutionized economies. Stories entertained, changed attitudes, awakened passions, and recorded history. Stories took humans to the moon and to the depths of their souls. Stories continue to do all of these things, in an increasing variety of ways — through print, audio, video, social media, visual art, and music, to name a few — as we continue our evolution.

And every story then and now has the same basic three ingredients.

[if !supportLists]1. [endif]A hero

[if !supportLists]2. [endif]A challenge

[if !supportLists]3. [endif]A satisfying resolution

How will you shape your story with these three ingredients? If you need help let's talk soon! If you have never spoken to me before, feel free to schedule time to do so by choosing a date and following the prompts to lock in and date and time. Talk to you then!

About Shakira M. Brown

Shakira M. Brown is an award-winning Professional Branding & Business Communication Speaker ( and former network television broadcast journalist with nearly 25 years of experience. Shakira is the CEO of SMB Strategic Media LLC (, a firm that helps businesses get to the heart of why the customers/clients buy their goods and service helping them clarify their message via strategic brand messaging. She is also the lead marketing consultant for America’s Small Business Development Center at The College of New Jersey. She has won over 13 industry awards in various disciplines for her work. Shakira frequently shares her expertise at national conferences and corporate workshops as well as with the media such as American Express Open, Crain’s Chicago, PR Week, Brand Week, Smart Money and she is also a contributing writer for Black

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