In March of 2012 Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney gave a TED talk that entered into the history books. Not only did Bryan get the longest standing ovation in TED history, but he also received an incredible amount of donations to his cause, all without a pitch… in only 18 minutes!
“In addition to giving Stevenson a standing ovation, the audience assembled in the auditorium that day donated $1 million to Stevenson’s non-profit organization, the equivalent of $55,000 per minute that he spoke.” ~Forbes
He spent 65% of the presentation telling stories about regular people, like his Grandma. The stories themselves were gut wrenching, emotional and transcended race, gender and time. They allowed anyone of any status or lifestyle to connect with his message.
- Think about that for a second, one MILLION dollars collected.
- No pitch involved or request
- No special build up of benefits
- No talk structure a marketer would use
Why Stories Work
A Princeton University professor conducted an experiment watching brain patterns between a story teller, and a set of listeners, and the results should blow your MIND.
“One of the graduate students in Hasson’s lab, Lauren Silbert, told an unrehearsed, 15-minute story about one of her high school proms — a disastrous experience involving two suitors, a fistfight and a car accident — while undergoing fMRI.
The results showed that not only did all of the listeners show similar brain activity during the story, the speaker and the listeners had very similar brain activity despite the fact that one person was producing language and the others were comprehending it. This brain coupling, or “mind meld,” attracted media attention in outlets including the website of the technology magazine Wired” – Princeton University
Imagine this… you can literally cause someone to feel the same pleasure, pain and sadness (or happiness) that you convey in your stories! If someone’s already experienced the pains of not solving the problem, and the pleasure of seeing the solution in action, can you see how that would make it easy to convince someone to do something differently?
How to Use Stories
Now, how about this? What if you used stories as a form of marketing? Here’s a few ideas to get your brain going on creating a story for your products or services.
- You could use fictitious stories
One famous such example is the one written by Martin Conroy for The Wall Street Journal. This direct mail advertisment was the control (the main unchallenged converting letter that the publication used) to successfully get new subscribers for twenty eight straight years! From 1975 to 2003 they mailed the story of these two ficticious young gentlemen who graduated from the same college, same marks, same upbringing… very much alike… both working for the same company..one became president of that company. The difference? One subscribed to The Wall Street Journal.
- You could use client testimonials
Have a client that’s wildly successful with your product? Beyond the recent sad news about Jared Fogle is a classic example of this. Jared claimed to have lost a ton of weight, and Subway restaurants advertised his story to show customers how healthy their product was.
- Start with why
Simon Sinek, well known for his famous speech titled “Start with why” focuses on sharing with people the mantra, or mission of you or your company. The vision and the ultimate reason you do what you do. That story itself is no better proven than in the company Tom’s Shoes. Blake Mycoskie founded the company on the idea that when you’re buying a pair of shoes from them, you’re also buying some for someone else in the world who doesn’t have any. The infamous “One for One”. The shoes themselves aren’t amazing, but people aren’t buying the shoes. They’re buying the story!