Stories help us understand the world around us. They are the mental shortcuts we use because we are overwhelmed by the details about a person, product, or service. As marketers, we rely on storytelling as a way to engage and inspire customers. If stories are authentic, consumers are more interested in what we have to say about our products or services.

The challenge in today’s world is telling our stories in ways that actually get heard. Today, brands market and sell their products in an environment that is more competitive than ever.

So, how do we rise above the noise?

Brands who are successful will treat people as an audience whose trust and attention must be cultivated rather than imagining them exclusively as consumers with choices that should be immediately influenced.

How to Tell Stories That Your Customers Actually Want to Hear

So, how do you go about cultivating the interest of potential customers by telling stories they actually want to hear? Here are a few key steps:

  • Define your audience. First and foremost, it’s important to define who you’re trying to reach (and who you’re not). Unless you’re Amazon, you aren’t trying to sell your product or service to the whole world. Knowing your ideal customer is foundational for telling stories in ways that resonates with them. Everyone on your sales and marketing teams should know (and agree) on exactly who you’re trying to reach.
  • Get an in-depth understanding on what they’re really thinking. There’s a difference between knowing about your audience and truly knowing them. The brands that are known for storytelling are ones that tell stories in ways that communicate what we’re all secretly thinking. If you want to tell stories that resonate, take time to truly get inside the mind of potential customers. Listen to the pain points you hear in sales conversations, interview current customers to understand what a typical day is like for them.
  • Tell a story that matches the audience’s current reality. Potential customers must be able to see themselves in the story you’re telling. If they don’t, your story won’t resonate. One easy way to accomplish this is to tell a story about a personal experience or client success.
  • Find ways to make an “emotional” connection. I’m not talking about bringing a potential customer to tears with your story. Rather, find ways to connect with all of the emotions potential customers experience—joy, excitement, longing, hope, etc. Tell stories in ways that make your audience laugh or brightens their day. Invite them into a tribe of their peers through the way you tell stories. Remembering to create an emotional connection will make sure your storytelling doesn’t fall flat.

In today’s increasingly noisy world, perhaps the only competitive advantage remaining is having a deeper, better understanding of and relationship with potential customers. Effective storytelling is the best way for capturing that advantage.