Why Storytelling is One of Your Best Sales Tools

The Acorn UX/UI team (aka designer Nick and developer Erin) recently attended the UI UX Online Summit 23, put on by Geekle, and there were a few threads common to many of the presentations. One thread–a crucial thread regardless of your size or industry–was stories.

Whether you’re pitching a complex iOS app in search of funding or writing homepage copy for your marketing website, you can’t go wrong using stories to convey new ideas and illustrate concepts.

There are several reasons for this. As Tuba Ozkan, senior product designer at Squarespace details in her presentation, stories help your information to stick. Ozkan cited research that shows your audience is up to 20 times more likely to remember facts if they’re delivered as part of a compelling story. This is important particularly in situations where you need to stand out from your competition. If your story is strong, your audience is far more likely to remember you and (hopefully!) buy from you.

Stories also help potential buyers see themselves in your world. You’re not just selling a product. You’re selling a worldview, a lifestyle. Draw your audience in and let them imagine how their work or their lives could improve by picking up what you’re putting down.

Focus on process and outcome, not mechanics

Not sure where to begin? Start small by looking at the services you offer and transforming technical explanations into a more human-readable format. Invite your audience to envision what it’s like to hire you for that service.

For example, when we’re selling our SEO optimization services, we say something like “We’re going to use modern web technologies to get you on Google’s radar so your ideal clients will find you on the first page of their search results” and not “We’re going to add the title prop from the Product schema and the business name, address and phone number from the Organization schema so that Google knows how to parse the data on your website and display it in a rich text format.”

Big difference.

We’re not actually talking about how the sausage is made here. We’re talking about the idyllic setting where the pig was raised, we’re talking about the longstanding tradition of quality and craftsmanship on the farm, and finally we’re talking about how delicious the sausage is as a result.

Draw Your Dramatic Arc

As your storytelling improves, you can apply the same lessons from creative writing class to client presentations, copywriting and even pitching to your boss. Also known as three-act structure, the dramatic arc is a great framework to help organize your material into beginning, middle and end and help you to shape ideas into a narrative.

There are a variety of classic story forms to choose from. The Hero’s Journey, for example, makes your customer the star of the story and allows them to put themselves in the story.

Bring it to life

This approach is useful not just for reaching your clients and customers to communicate your value. There are so many applications for these skills. Sometimes the people you need to reach with your ideas are on your own team. Whether you have a new tool you want to integrate into the team workflow or a potential solution to a problem you want to run by your boss, telling a story helps your audience build a personal connection to what you’re offering and see themselves in the picture you’re painting.

It can be as simple and straightforward as crafting your Unique Selling Perspective, giving readers a glimpse into who you are and what drives you, and creating an emotional touchpoint for your product or service. Or it can be as complex as presenting a use case for a brand new tool or product, casting your target user as the hero to show them a new perspective and convince them your solution is the right one for them.

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