Do you know what the most valuable skill of this entire century is?
Did you guess something along the lines of developing software like Google or Facebook, or maybe selling, marketing, or maybe learning how to invest in stocks or forex? How about running your own business, or maybe networking, or collecting Pokémon.
Those are all great guesses, I typically say selling and marketing are the most important...
Not exactly anyway.
The most valuable skill is actually...
One of the most basic skills that we are all familiar with. We grew up learning it, and I guarantee that it still has a powerful effect on you today.
That skill is none other than...
Why storytelling you say? Oh well that's the real question, isn't it?
Seth Godin has a book called all marketers are
liars storytellers and I 100% agree.
Stories are in fact sneaky "delivery mechanisms" for your messages. We all know that.
I'm going to share with you a little secret story formula I learned called the "conversion story" which can help you sell a ton of products if you desire... But before I do that
Here's why stories work so well...
We are hard-wired to be interested in stories, especially of other people, to think in terms of stories and how things relate to us, and to remember information in terms of stories.
As I described in an earlier post, Storytelling Secrets, long before the written word, stories were our primary vehicle for transferring our history and knowledge.
Now a story or a narrative is valuable for a number of reasons. Let's relate it back to marketing and selling for a minute and then to how they can help your personal relationships and really everything else.
Stories are important in sales/marketing because they deliver your sales message in an engaging, and entertaining way.
They convey information so much more powerfully than just giving the features and benefits because by their nature they demonstrate everything in a very relatable way and can command the most valuable commodity of all- attention.
They also can be used to increase the perceived value of whatever you may be selling, and here's a real life example.
A company tried selling plain old toys for 2 dollars, there was nothing special about them, they gave them away for free at McDonald's. Low and behold, they did not sell much.
But when they changed their story, now that's when it got interesting.
Here's what they did: They told people that these toys in fact had belonged to a little boy, and that little boy had received the toys from his father. Simple enough, until they threw in the curve ball that the boy was dying of a malignant type of rare bone cancer.
With that information, they were able to sell said all those toys for 80$ each. Yup, they created a 4000% markup all because people wanted to be a part of that sad story.
Now let me be clear- I do not condone the use of lying and telling people stories about sick kids with cancer to sell your shit, that is really wrong and fucked up. It merely illustrates my point.
Let's use another, less grim example...
Let's say you have a simple watch. Normally people might pay you 20$ for it, there's nothing particularly interesting about it. What do you do to raise it's perceived value so that people will happily pay you hundreds or even thousands for it?
What if you told them that this watch was invented by a master Swiss Watch Maker over 200 years ago, his name was Baron Von Yolo.
Now this Baron was a little bit insane, so he actually took his drawings and all of the watches and burned them. Every single blueprint was destroyed, but luckily his apprentice managed to reproduce a drawing by memory.
After the Baron died, his apprentice spent the rest of his life perfecting that one design, spending years tinkering with gears and timing belts, and developing a way for that watch to be mass produced.
To this day, even the most skilled watch makers using techniques that have been handed down generation by generation take at least 1200 hours to assemble a single watch.
Would you pay more than 20$ for that? I would.
Now stories are interesting because people always relate them to their own situation. They can put themselves in the storytellers shoes and feel the pain and embarrassment or whatever it may be as if it is happening to them, and then the storyteller can tell them the solution they found and explain it in such a way that they are the ones receiving the benefits of it.
Stories subtly create trust, authority, and an emotional bond that cannot easily be replicated by any kind of "sales pitch".
The good news is they aren't that hard to create once you know how. There are only a handful of plot lines that get used over and over again. You probably learned a few of them in middle school.
The money comes from the ability to tell engaging and persuasive stories to your prospects.
Please drill this into your brain if you are in the business of selling things. The higher the price, the more critical storytelling is.
By the way here's a "Conversion Story" that I learned from famous marketing master Eben Pagan. Once you learn this, watch for it in sales letters and VSL's, you will see it all over the place.
Here it is in it's most barebones form...
I was in your situation before. ( start empathizing and establishing rapport, commonalities)
I tried and failed to (get result) (it's never their fault, but an outside source)
I discovered a secret. (always "discovered" there should always be an element of luck, create an "us vs them")
I systemized it and started getting consistent results. ( I have a step by step formula to reproduce those results)
Other people succeeded with this system. (Building believability by social proof, anyone can do it)
I turned it into a product so anyone can use it. ( I feel your pain and I genuinely want to help others like me)
Now I want to show you/you get a result. ( you CAN get the same results as me, with my gizmo)
You can get it here. ( call to action)
Pretty nifty huh? I certainly think so. All that needs is a strong risk reversal offer and you have a badass template for selling your stuff.
Here are a few pointers to make your stories more believable and powerful
Be sure to sprinkle in SPECIFICS throughout your story. When people start nodding their head when you tell it that means they're thinking "Oh ok that makes sense" and every time that happens, you get a few more believability points.
If you are in a highly competitive industry, sometimes you will have to dig for a story, but there is ALWAYS something to be found.
In the 1920's, Claude Hopkins was working with Schlitz beer. Being the sales detective he was, he knew that if he dug deep enough into their company he would find SOMETHING. Well, he did.
Claude discovered the elaborate process that the brewery took to clean and brew its beer. He described this interesting process in their advertising and the result? Schlitz became the number 1 beer!
Here's the funny thing- EVERY other beer company had the exact same process, they just never told anyone because it was too mundane for them.
The moral here? People buy stories, not products.
Oh and don't make them up if you can help it, there are plenty of ways to take ordinary stories and make them really interesting. You can embellish them, and emotionalize them more, but don't lie.
We all have that one friend who makes up ridiculous fables.
We call one of my good friends "Tall Tales". He's the guy who just hiked up a mountain while drinking an entire cask of wine and then fought a grizzly bear with a knife and won. You know who you are. Not surprisingly however, he is a GREAT salesmen.
People always think that their situation is so unique, and nothing like it has ever happened to anyone else.
Well, there's an old law in personal development that states that the more personal your story is, the more universal it is. The more pain involved in your story, the better it will relate to people who experienced that or something similar.
The truth is much more people can relate with being at rock bottom than with being at the top of the mountain.
And here's another little trick I picked up from reading a random NLP book. Always speak in three, let's call them modes- Audio, Visual, and Kinesthetic.
You should do this because people are usually dominant in one type of sense. You can tell by their language patterns, for example: this really resonates with me = audio, I hear you, I see what you're saying, I feel you, and so on.
If you are sending your story out to the masses, you should craft your story with this in mind as a catch all. If you talk in terms of how things look, feel, and sound, your stories will have a much better chance of striking a chord with the highest amount of people.
And finally remember this: there must be a reason for your story. What is your objective for telling your customer this specific one?
Your stories should be your customers stories. This is a key concept for being an effective communicator in general.
But wait, there's more!
Storytelling isn't just good for sales and marketing though, oh no no no!
Learning to be a good storyteller will help you in all kinds of other areas. Maybe you have to make a speech at your best friends wedding, or you have to make a presentation, when you need an excuse as to why you were late for work, if you're pitching investors, or maybe you want a date and you need to "sell yourself".
Listen closely-getting good at telling stories is THE fastest way to get your point across. They give your listeners a good idea of exactly who you are and what you're all about. A good story will let people know your values and it will give them a window into your personality.
Whether that window is manufactured or not, is up to you.
Did you learn something today?
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
And as always,
Talk to you next time.
-Ben " A legend in his own mind" Byrne
I'll give you bonus points if you can tell me who first said that by the way.
P.S. I can go much further in depth on storytelling, and maybe I will. If you're interested in that let me know by my email. I'm thinking of making a training to teach you step by step how to sell using stories, and communicate like a champion. I think that would be pretty bad ass, if I do say so myself.
P.P.S If you want a hell of an example of selling purely by storytelling, go buy or try to download Anik Singals book "The Circle of Profit".
I might break down the first few chapters as there are some highly persuasive and VERY subtle mechanisms he uses that I would guess only a handful of people- in the world- can pick up on.