Stories have been shown to be powerful sales tools. Clients and prospects alike respond to a good story much better than they respond to dry facts and figures, or sales sheets with colored charts and diagrams. I'm not saying some industries, the technology industry in particular, doesn't need those charts and graphs, in full color, but in and of themselves they don't "speak" to clients the way a good story does.
The art of storytelling is much like the art of writing. It's a craft that comes easily to some, but must be mastered by others. Learning to be a good storyteller can help build a true real-ationship with a prospect or improve an existing one with a client. One of the best things about telling stories is that they engage the listener.
Let me tell you a story as an example. Setting the story up is a crucial element to the storytelling success, so here was my situation at the time of this story: I had finally gone out on my own into the world of "be your own boss." I was an entrepreneur. Being a freelance writer qualified me for that. I was used to rejection. My first act was to join BNI, Business Networking International. I met people there who were like me, who were determined to build a business of their own and to hell with corporate America. I also made a lot of great friends.
It was during my first few months at BNI that an idea took form in my head. An idea that grew of its own accord. I was having some success getting clients who needed web content writing, and some who needed Search Engine Optimization, but I found myself wanting to do more writing for myself. While I was becoming somewhat successful at my business, certain issues arose in my family--the extended family, beyond myself and my three children--that got me thinking.
Nostalgia took hold of me. I was then and am now wedded to technology and the Internet, but I found myself hankering for the "good old days." Summer in the city, circa 1960. It was closing in on summer then, as it is now. The weather was warm and sparkling. Each morning a new leaf appeared on the tree outside my window. The tulips bloomed unexpectedly, adding a splash of red and yellow to the front lawn. On any given day, with the windows wide open, a deep breath rewarded me with the tangy smell of fresh mowed grass. It was the same, but oh so different, than the springs and summers of my youth.
In a moment of reflection, missing the grandchild I see so seldom---she is growing out of her jeans and sneakers in Boulder, CO, while I sit here at my computer in Rochester, NY-- I realized that when summer finally arrived, when those glorious sunlit, humid days of June, July and August burst upon the scene, whether here or there...my granddaughter would not have the privileges and freedom I had as a child of her age. She would never know the excitement of gulping down a bowl of cereal and bolting out the door to play with the neighborhood kids, barely giving her mother a mumbled, "Bye, Mom. Be back later."
There are no sandlots or empty corner lots for her. She will never go off on her own, unattended, free to wander, free to stay away until "the street lights come on." At eight o'clock, when dusk is just beginning to fall on the treetops, she will never hear the whistles or calls from a dozen Mothers reminding wayward children to come home. My granddaughter is talented and creative. She has many toys that encourage her to be so; including crayola crayons and blank pieces of paper. But, for the most part her play is organized. To her, play is a computer game, or watching a video (one she's seen 100 times or more), a visit to an amusement park, a birthday party for herself or a friend at Chuck-e-Cheese. Inventive play is not something she engages in very often.
Thinking about that, reminiscing about playing outdoor games like Freeze Tag, Mother May I, and Dodge Ball in the backyards and driveways throughout a six block area, being called in to lunch by my mother or a friend's mother, brought me to the realization that a whole era of childhood is being lost to digital technology. The black and white pictures, the 8 millimeter tapes converted to VHS or DVD format, are not enough. There are stories to be told. Stories my granddaughter needs to hear.
And so, I decided to write these stories. And I made a good beginning. I interviewed several people about their childhood memories, I put a book proposal together, and it haunts me now that I let a few rejections from a few agents stop me from continuing that project. Instead, I moved on to the women's market online, and I am so busy with it, I wonder if I will ever return to those stories of a youth lived in inventive play and freedom.
All those marvelous stories of summers gone by lie in a box, in a closet, now. Occasionally, I hear them whispering for attention, reminding me that there are children out there eager to hear them. Someday, I promise myself, I will finish that project. Unfortunately, someday, like tomorrow, never really comes.
I tell that story a lot. I share it with other boomers who immediately relate and begin offering stories of their own. I tell it to Gen Xers who nod understandingly and sigh because they cannot, ever, let their children out of their sight. And I tell it to Gen Ys, who defend their world, but never hesitate to ask questions about what it was like for the boomers, back in the Route 66 summers of the 60s.
In the telling, the story is shorter than in the writing. Every time I tell it, it bonds me with my prospect or client. They no longer look at me as a sales person. Now I'm a human being, just like them, and they are ready to hear about my products or services. Women, especially, like that story. Women are very much into nostalgia. Not because we 'miss' our youth. But, because we wish our grandchildren could experience the fun we had as kids, running around in the rain, not worried about things like homeland security or what the stranger in the car slowing down next door was going to do.
You can do this on your website. There are many ways. Put some of your own stories on a "Remember When Page," or link to sites that share that kind of information, sites like Reminisce, and The Good Old Days. Give women a glimpse into the person you are by sharing some of yourself with us. We will bond with you and you will win our friendship. In Dickless Marketing friendship is spelled: S-A-L-E-S.
What's not to like about that?