How Hollywood’s storytelling rules can boost your business

5 min read
Thomas Costello

Hollywood makes billions from great storytelling. When you cheer at a superhero or jump at a horror movie or shed a tear over a love story, you're doing it because of great storytelling. Well, never-more-so than in the hands of the movie maestros in Hollywood.

Companies which aren't in show-business also benefit from telling great stories. People love stories - we communicate with, entertain and educate each other through stories. If you’re pitching to clients, they will respond to a powerful story. When you’re marketing your brand, your customers will identify with your business and become excited by your products, through a great story.

So, let’s look at how just six simple storytelling rules can boost your business’ storytelling mojo.

Storytelling Rule 1: Admire your main character

We like stories about people we admire. When you’re running a small business, it’s like you’ve just volunteered to carry The Ring to Mordor. You know you have a long way to go, you don’t really know where you’re going and you have very little idea of the challenges you’ll face on the way. You are, in point of fact, going on an adventure!

You’re always trying new things, developing new ideas, finding new ways forward - and that’s how you maintain a successful business. So, when you’re telling your business stories, bear that in mind - trying new things when you don’t know they’ll work … that’s kind of heroic!

Storytelling Rule 2: You're not your own audience

This is a key rule to bear in mind whenever you’re marketing your business, or developing new products or services … you are not your customer. Think about what your customer wants from you - what problems they have that you can solve - and tell stories that communicate that.

You may want customers to appreciate just how much work goes into running your business, how long the hours are, etc. But, truth is, unless you’re selling a prestige hand-made item, where the value is in the time and effort, no-one really cares. But, what they do care about, is how that product will make them feel.

You can find this out through doing a bit of market research - simply ask people what they need and how your products help. You can also apply your own experiences as a customer - because, you might not be your own customer, but you’re certainly someone else’s.

Storytelling Rule 3: Have a beginning, a middle and an end in sight

This structure for your story is a simple fill-in-the-blanks kinda thing. Every story needs a good structure, a beginning, a middle and an end - and that story needs to feature a string of cause-and-effect events.
So, if you’re marketing your products or services, you can harness the power of story by creating a scenario your customers will identify, a problem they will really experience, then show how you can help solve that problem. They will then feel motivated to hire you or buy your products. Cause and effect!

Storytelling Rule 4: Keep it simple

When you tell a business story, know what point you want to make and ensure that you make that point clearly. If you’re selling a feature or a particular service, focus on that. If this overlaps with other services or features, mention them in separate stories.
One simple message, told well, is far more compelling than a more-convoluted, more-detailed story (even if it’s more precise) which covers every base. People respond to a clear, simple message. In a complicated world where customers are constantly presented with confusing choices - simplicity sells!

Storytelling Rule 5: Relate it to the challenges your customers face

This can be a useful tool for informing and educating your customers. Describe the challenges they face and have no solution for, then offer them the solution. People are most ready to buy a product or service when it answers a question for them, solves a problem or helps them out of a predicament.
So, in your marketing, define those predicaments and how you can help overcome them. This particularly complements Rule 3.

Storytelling Rule 6: Be genuine

Empathy is the heart of a great story - it’s a moment of human connection between people, through the medium of story. Nothing is more powerful in storytelling than the audience identifying with the characters in the situations in the story.

So, use this in your marketing and in your sales pitches. You’re talking to people. They will have wants, needs and life experiences in common with you, so appeal to what you have in common.

And be genuine. People have a highly-evolved sense of insincerity, these days. So, relate to real situations and real emotions that real people have. After all, real people will spend real money when buying your products.

Now tell your story

So, hopefully you will see that storytelling in your marketing and in your sales pitch can be a brilliant way to reach out and make genuine connection between your business and your prospective customers.

A great way to create that content is through your blog and the gold standard in blogging is to use WordPress. GoDaddy offers a great range of WordPress services, which will help your website do so much more than simply blog. Also, our Websites + Marketing suite of tools can help you take your stories to a wider audience, to empower them and help you build your business around them.

What are you waiting for? You’ve got a story to tell!