I’m sure at some point in your life, you were the victim of an unfortunate infomercial.
No doubt, the cheerful host and the inventor of the latest must-have gadget dished about the unique features that were supposedly unmatched to anything currently on the market, and then they launched into the familiar spiel of two-for-the-price-of-one and free shipping and yada, yada, yada.
Anyone in this position usually changes the channel after a few seconds of curiosity pass; at least I know I do.
But the problem is that this conventional rhetoric isn’t just limited to late-night television commercials. I’m finding it in everything from print advertisements to Facebook ads and almost everything else in between.
The truth is, this outdated method is just not effective anymore (if it ever was) and I really wish people would just stop using it altogether. I know that’s a bold statement so I’ll show you exactly what I mean today.
Conventional Rhetoric vs Storytelling: A Quick Comparison
Have you ever listened to a sales pitch and thought, Geez! When is this guy going to take a break? He just won’t stop talking!
It’s like the speaker himself isn’t even listening to what he’s saying because he just keeps repeating the same thing over and over. And if he does notice, he doesn’t seem to care. His only job, it seems, is to present the argument that you need this product in your life.
To do this successfully, the speaker must use as many examples, facts, and slides as possible to show you why this product is worth your attention.
Once the speaker finishes, you have to decide if his argument convinced you to make the purchase. This is conventional rhetoric at its finest. Although I find it more like being a member of a jury deciding the fate of the product in question.
On the other hand, storytelling is a more modern approach to selling, although the method actually works backwards from conventional rhetoric.
Using this strategy, the speaker tells the audience an engaging and relatable story (or several) in an effort to connect and build a relationship first. Once the initial connection is made, the speaker can elaborate on how the product or service will help the audience.
Make note of this key difference as we compare the two.
Here’s what it looks like:
While the end goals are essentially the same (to close the sale or add another customer), the approach is definitely different. In the case of storytelling, you’re trying to connect with people instead of just trying to close the deal or make the sale.
Why is Storytelling More Effective?
Unlike traditional rhetoric, modern storytelling takes one key ingredient into consideration: emotion.
Surprisingly, this is the best way to persuade people.
See, according to ISPO News: “90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously.”
As much as we don’t always admit or realize it, we make our buying decisions based on how the brand, product, or even the person behind the brand makes us feel.
So if we’re stuck listening to how great a brand is or how wonderful this product is going to make our lives (traditional rhetoric), we’re never going to open up or connect emotionally. No amount of persuasive selling is going to change that.
That’s why the storytelling method reigns supreme these days. It creates a warm and positive relationship right from the start and it’s almost as if the potential customer is connecting to another person instead of just a brand or a product.
Plus, when it comes time to sell with this route, it takes less persuasion since your potential customer has already figured out that you’re trustworthy and can help them based on the fact that you shared a similar story to what they’re experiencing. By this point, it won’t even feel like you’re selling to them at all.
Now, to do this successfully, you’ll need to make a few fundamental shifts in your sales process. Let’s discuss that now.
From Persuasive Selling to Compelling Storytelling
1. Get rid of the persuasive copy
First, it’s out with the old. If any of your copy references for your product or brand are written in the third person, get rid of them.
From now on you’ll be coming from a place of “I” or “we” anytime you’re talking about your brand. You’ll also speak directly to your customers by using the word “you”.
I also want you to avoid generic and overused phrases such as: “We value our customer” and “We strive to exceed expectations”.
Instead of saying these often tuned out phrases, show your customers how you appreciate them. Show how you’re exceeding expectations without explicitly saying it. Do this with case studies or even real-life testimonials.
Consider this step the fundamentals of storytelling so you can start conveying your story today.
2. Start with your origin story
Now that the old stuff is gone, it’s time to start focusing on creating a story that resonates with your potential customers.
For now, I want you to stop thinking about the benefits of your product or service and start thinking about your story instead.
You need to answer questions like:
- How did I get here?
- Why did I start this business in the first place?
- What is my mission with this business?
- What do I value and stand for?
- Who am I?
The answers to these questions are not easy, but they’re going to resonate the most with your potential audience.
Once you give them an insider’s look of your struggles and adversities and describe how you overcame them, you’ll inspire potential customers to take action by using your product or service.
So, begin crafting an origin story that evokes those warm and fuzzy feelings in your customers. If you need help here, be sure to sign up for my free bootcamp about storytelling where you’ll be guided through this exact process. (Psst… it’s on the sidebar.)
3. Stop highlighting the benefits like a used car salesman
Okay, at some point you will need to sell the benefits of your product or service. And yes, these benefits are important. But when it comes down to it, fancy features aren’t enough to convince your customers to buy from you.
Instead of spending your limited time explaining all of the technical features or positives of your product or brand, I want you to show prove that these benefits will add value to your customers’ lives starting today.
I want you to do this through the use of stories.
Your stories should elaborate on events such as how your previous customers felt after they used your product, what changed for them thanks to your help, and anything else that’s relatable to potential customers. These stories will help your audience connect even more.
It’s these stories that are going to help you sell, and you won’t even notice that you’re doing so because you’re not trying to convince anyone anymore. You’re simply weaving a story about what’s actually happening.
As you can see, it’s clearly time to shift away from conventional rhetoric and move on to storytelling techniques. This is especially true if growing your brand organically is your goal (which it should be!).
Leave the persuasive copy behind and opt for more compelling stories instead. Come up with relatable narratives that uncover who your brand really is and what it stands for and your customers will thank you in the form of increased sales and loyalty.