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Stop Sacrificing Sales and Start Telling Your Story


Some stories are more compelling than others.  Tone, structure, and diction all affect a tale’s resonance with its intended audience. Why, then, do so many businesses overlook this simple truth when considering their own marketing materials?

Perhaps some marketers and CEOs consider well-crafted storytelling to be frivolous, or simply a luxury on which they cannot afford to allocate time and money.  When times are tough and resources at a premium, one can certainly see the justification for such rationale.

However, this is misguided; recent studies have corroborated what we humans understand instinctively: A finely told, captivating story makes us more likely to open our hearts (and wallets) to businesses and causes.

Business owners ignore this elemental fact at their own peril.  The New York Times writes:

Although the power of storytelling to attract…is well known, the reason for its appeal has been unclear. But it may have something to do with oxytocin, also called the love hormone.

Paul Zak, a professor of economics, psychology and management at Claremont Graduate University, studies oxytocin, which is produced in the brain. Researchers have found it to be plentiful in lactating women and released during orgasm. It is also thought to bolster trust and empathy.

To see the impact of storytelling on oxytocin, Professor Zak conducted a now well-known experiment. Participants had their blood drawn before and again after watching videos of character-driven stories. The result? When those watching the stories had an increase in oxytocin, they tended to help more — donating money to a charity associated with the story, for example.

So, storytelling can boost an audience’s oxytocin levels, increasing sales or donations. Unfortunately, a great story can be identified by a toddle but is much more challenging to craft:

“But not every story is well told. Most of us know a compelling tale when we hear one, but “it’s difficult for people to articulate why they like what they like,” Professor Zak said.”

The article concludes with a few helpful pointers on creating a great story:

  • Know who your audience is.
  • Have a beginning, middle and end. (That sounds obvious, but people often forget that.)
  • Use concrete details and personal experience.
  • Don’t self-censor.
  • Don’t try to memorize a story so it sounds rehearsed. It’s not about perfection. It’s about connecting.

This is sound strategy from a venerable publication that trades in its own ability to tell stories, but we at Woden feel that they are missing the most crucial element of any business or organization’s story: Why do you do what you do?

Customers and clients buy from firms that understand themselves and that use this understanding as a foundation upon which they build the rest of their story.  Your executives and employees are not solely focused on turning a profit, satisfying shareholders, or maximizing revenue (although these are all nice things).  Instead, these people are all motivated by a deeper force that drives their daily pursuits.

Knowing and appreciating your firm’s motivation for existence will make writing your story much easier and far more powerful. Woden, a storytelling agency based in Philadelphia can help you answer the question “Why” and unlock your firm’s true value. For more information, please contact us here.