When you craft the right story for your audiology patients, it’s amazing what you can achieve for your business.
By Michele Ahlman
Movies often come to mind when we think of great storylines. A great movie has something for everyone. It can be so powerful it literally can define an era. Star Wars is a good example. It is literally a template for what the authors of “The Storytelling Edge” dubbed The Four Elements of Great Stories. And understanding these elements can help you reach new patients and improve your business.
Four Elements of Great Stories
According to “The Storytelling Edge,” these are the four elements of great stories:
Our brains are averse, so to speak, to things that are too foreign. It’s hard to get comfortable enough to invest in a story that is too far out there. On the other hand, we are fascinated by stories we can relate to. For us to accept ideas that are unfamiliar, we need some familiar elements to make us comfortable and to care about the story. The more relatable the story is, the more likely we are to get pulled in.
When we are exposed to something new, our brains light up like Christmas trees. That’s because our brains are wired for novelty – we pay attention to what is new to us. This kept us safe back when we lived in caves and we needed to determine whether the new thing was a threat. This instinct serves us well in modern times, too. In storytelling, the best stories use relat- ability to get us invested and then novelty to keep us interested.
Tension, which some call conflict or the curiosity gap, is what turns a good story into a great story. It’s the emotional tug, the mystery, the what-if, the “I can’t believe this!” A great story establishes what is and then establishes what could be. The gap between those two things is the tension and that IS your story. The storyteller’s job is to close that gap and open a new one, over and over until the tale is done.
The best writers—those writers who are most popular—write at a lower reading level than their peers. This is the fourth element of fantastic storytelling. A great storyteller, whether in film, in writing, or in oral narration, grabs you with relatability, novelty, and tension. Then, they tell the story in a way that means you don’t have to think about anything else. This makes the story flow.
Whether we are telling our story on Twitter, in a blog post, in a video, or in a book, it’s incumbent upon us to make each part of our story flow to the next piece as efficiently as possible. When your story is fluent, people only notice one thing: what you’re saying.
As human beings, we are designed for stories. They are literally part of what make us human. Our lives are constructed around one story after another.
We’ll do a lot because of a good story. We’ll support destroying a product that is associated with a bad story. We’ll change our minds about a product if it incorporates a good story. We’ll pay a little extra for a product that has an inspirational backstory. And we’ll give something a second chance based on a good redemption story.
Stories Make Marketing Better
Stories are the secret sauce to making content spread. OK, well, good stories, that is. And I don’t mean just stories about good things. I mean well-crafted, tested, tinkered-with stories. This means crafting stories about your product or service, creating content around them (whether that be in video, written, or audio format), and publishing this content where your customers have their attention. It also means studying response, making adjustments, and doing it again.
For a great example of great stories in advertising, go to YouTube and search “Dear Kitten Purina ad.” These were a series of brilliant and funny “ads” that were mini-stories. They are seriously hilarious!
Stories Make Sales Conversion Better
The fastest-growing business in the his- tory of the world did something clever to beat its competition. It got people to open emails and buy products at an outrageous rate—through stories. That company launched in my hometown of Chicago (I now call Texas my home) in 2008. The company is Groupon.
Soon after Groupon’s launch and rising success, they faced a barrage of competition. How did they handle it? They hired writers from the improvisational theater troupe Second City who wrote hilarious backstories behind every product and service Groupon offered.
This resulted in two things. First, people opened the emails just to read the funny stories, which led to an exceptionally high email open rate, and second….wait for it…. a big boost in sales. And for those who did not buy, they may have sent the hilarious Groupon laser hair removal coupon to a particularly hairy friend.
Stories are powerful communication tools that tap into our human DNA—how we make sense of our world. Great stories stick with us. They change our minds. They spur us to action. As a hearing care provider, you certainly do not have to hire SNL writers or invest huge resources into writing elaborate story scripts for marketing. However, you can absolutely weave stories into your marketing, customer experience, and ad campaigns as well as your personal communication to have a massive impact, create a competitive edge today, and keep that edge into the future.
Further reading: 13 Stats That Prove the Power of Video Marketing
About the Author: Michele Ahlman is CEO and founder of Clear Digital Media, an Austin,TX-based small business that has invested 35+ years of experience in hearing healthcare, to develop a digital content management and signage platform that streams professionally created, educational video content into the waiting rooms of thousands of hearing healthcare practices throughout the U.S. and Canada. She also serves as president and founder of ClearSounds Communications, a manufacturer of assistive listening devices.