The Thread of Stories
Storytelling is the cat’s meow nowadays. If you look on business websites, resources, or any sort of medium in which a person or people are trying to sell a product or a service, it’s likely that there is some sort of story illuminating what is trying to be sold. There is a good reason for this: stories sell.
Why do stories sell? Because they create an emotional connection with the prospective buyer. Despite what we may try to tell ourselves, human beings are 100% emotional. And if we hear a story that truly resonates with us, we are going to be much more inclined to purchase a service or product if we feel that it will enhance our lives in some way.
Take movie trailers for example. Now, movies themselves are stories, but a movie trailer is an interesting concept. The creators need to create a story in order to sell their movie. But, at the same time, they cannot give too much away or else it will spoil the movie. Therefore, they must craft a story that will both create an emotional connection with the viewer and entice them enough to buy. This takes some impressive finessing!
I don’t think there is anything wrong with using stories for our leverage; it’s how we relate to one another. We build deeper bonds with our friends and family when we tell personal stories or when we discuss a topic that we feel deeply about. In a way, we are selling in those moments; selling our ideas, beliefs, and perspectives. And those who are closest to us buy-in to the story.
Stories are what connect us and this is only going to become more and more important in the digital age. If a company is looking to sell a fancy, technically sophisticated product, that alone won’t sell it. The creators will have to generate some sort of story that the potential consumer can relate to.
We need to make sure that our stories are mostly true, however. While we can often get away with making exaggerations here and there to build drama into our stories as we tell them, we can’t make them up when it comes to personal stories. Lying is inauthentic and the connection will be severed if we try to do this. Stories must be grounded by real people and real circumstances in order to reach an audience. This stands true for movies and plays. Even if a story is taking place in some sort of fantastical land, the characters are grounded enough for us to believe the circumstances of the environment.
We can all make an effort to tell and listen to one another’s stories. I have to admit, while I see myself as a good listener, I do believe I need to do a better job at telling stories. It’s easy to doubt yourself and think that your story isn’t worth telling. But, to someone, it will be.