“Tell me a story.” These four words, often uttered by children before they drift to sleep, have the potential to open the door to new worlds. National Geographic notes that the earliest findings of stories date back as far as 30,000 years ago with cave drawings in France. Today, they’re as much a part of our daily communication as ever. From the advertisements around us to the way we tell loved ones about our days, stories are “our way of making sense of the world,” as storytelling expert Michael Ashley shares. Not just reserved for fairytales, fiction or family functions, storytelling is a powerful tool for businesses to connect with their audiences and make an impact. In this blog we’ll share why stories are effective and provide three storytelling examples used by the Orange Label team and our clients.
Why Storytelling Is A Powerful Business Tool
Like the ever-anticipated bedtime story, our pastime of listening to narratives is an enjoyable experience that the brain remembers. As Harvard Business Publishing states, “storytelling has the power to engage, influence, teach and inspire listeners.” Psychologists have found that well-told stories are often remembered more accurately and for longer than information alone. With his background in screenwriting, Ashley shares one of Hollywood’s “secret weapons” of storytelling: pain. “You need pain, or conflict in a story to gather people’s attention and hook them in. As a business owner, you want to tap into that,” he shares. “What are your clients’ or prospects’ pain points? What are their problems? If you can tell a story about how you successfully helped to reverse that problem, it’s a great way to show – not tell – the value you bring to others.” Here are some examples of how Orange Label brings this problem-solution storytelling to life in the form of blogs, case studies and podcasts.
As a plastic surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction, Dr. Elisabeth Potter often meets women at a very sensitive time in their lives, when they’re in the midst of breast cancer. To assist along the patient journey, her website includes a blog of patient stories which provide insights into the patient experience. Patients who are willing, and oftentimes eager, to share their story with the community, are interviewed by the Orange Label team. In this interview, patients are able to share all aspects of their story, including their own advice and insight for others experiencing a similar situation. While questions can be answered in depth by Dr. Potter and her team, these stories help patients realize that they’re not alone in their journey or experiences, and can help prepare them for what to expect. Topics have included feeling at home in one’s body, procedure experiences, pre- and post-surgery care and more. These direct patient insights capture the “show don’t tell” aspect of stories and provide an emotional connection between Dr. Potter and her patients, through their eyes. As a way of building a peer-to-peer community, Dr. Potter also offers a Facebook group where patients considering breast reconstruction can directly share stories with one another.
Another way to illustrate the value that your company provides or the problem it solves is through case studies. Digital dental solutions company DGSHAPE Americas shares the stories of end-users in the clinical and dental lab industries, and how they’ve transformed their practice or business with DGSHAPE’s technology. For these case stories, the sources that are being interviewed are the experts. Potential customers are able to see in a powerful one-sheet case study what that sources’ story is and what their biggest takeaways are. Similar to patient stories, the “hero” in this instance is not the product or technology itself, but the source, because they are the ones who other lab owners and clinicians will relate to the most. These case stories include a beginning, middle and end to bring the buyer’s journey to life. For example, one dentist shared that during downtime in the first half of 2020, she decided to look into digital dental technology and how it could impact her dental practice. She shared the process in making her decision, the process of setting up and learning to use the technology and one shocking discovery: the patients were so enthralled with seeing their dental crowns being created in front of them on the DGSHAPE dental mill that they were actually taking video and immediately sharing it with their friends. Stories like these provide solid social proof of the impact that the product has on a business or practice and helps others envision the positive impact it could have on their own, as well.
In our 50th anniversary podcast interview with agency founder Paul Barth, he shares numerous stories on how to look for and locate the little pearls of wisdom found in stories like the DGSHAPE case studies or Dr. Potter patient stories. When conducting interviews for pieces such as those, Paul advises to listen without interrupting and with such intensity that you put yourself in the mindset of the other person. If you do that, he shares, “the pearls will fall out… and bounce along the table.” It’s then the marketer’s job to search for the pearl.
One of the pearls he shares is the effect that story has on the imagination. He recalls one such anecdote: At the time, a client was acquiring assisted living facilities that were underperforming with the intention of turning them around. After research, it was discovered that the most significant problem with all of these facilities was not their location or maintenance, but the way they were being run. In four words, the agency was able to create a mission that could easily be remembered and understood by the directors, staff, families of future and current residents, and the residents themselves, which was: The Power of Love. This bold and emotional statement saw beyond the already understood physical care that was needed and spoke to the emotional care that was lacking. When the constituencies thought of this phrase, “The Power of Love,” it inspired stories of the type of care that needed to be provided. The loving care you’d want for your own parents, the loving care you’d hope to receive if you were a resident, the loving care and attentiveness that sets one care facility apart from the rest. This short statement created a compelling story that was able to turn those care facilities around and inspire emotional connections for all involved.
To learn more about the power that story has in transforming your business and inspiring new ideas, tune into The 19: Entrepreneur Edition podcast with storytelling expert Michael Ashley. Sign up at the link below to receive a notification when it goes live!