How to Use Storytelling to Sell Your Brand and Vision

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March 5, 2018 7 min read

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The reason why the Bible is the bestselling book every year is because it delivers its lessons as a series of stories. And if you don’t want to use the Bible as an example, pick any other world religion that has attracted millions of followers and has kept growing for centuries. They all deliver their lessons through stories.

Related: Marketing 101: The Art of Storytelling

People are hardwired to listen to stories and relate them to their own lives. Religions figured this out a long time ago, hence why they all use stories. Stories are simply the best possible way to transfer information into someone else’s mind and make it stick.

I can back this up with a personal example, too: When I first started speaking at events, I would give out all my best information without any stories or personal details. I would literally give people the exact tools and procedures I was using to build by own seven-figure (now eight-figure) business.

I thought, incorrectly, that this would be enough to capture people’s attention and get them to take action. Instead, I would have a room full of people politely nodding along and then giving me a lukewarm response (and lukewarm sales) on the way out.

Later, when I stumbled across my “Point, Story, Metaphor” formula, I would get off stage and have people come up to me with tears in their eyes. They would tell me that they finally got the message, they could see the light in the darkness, and they were ready to go home and save their businesses.

Here is the lesson you need to learn from that: people remember how you make them feel, not the information you give them. As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to change how people see the world and have them buy into your vision. For that to happen, you need them to remember you and you need to be able to change their emotional state.

Related: Why Storytelling Will Continue to Be the Go-To Marketing Strategy in 2018

Point, Story, Metaphor

To help you become more persuasive, here is my point, story, metaphor formula. I’ll walk through an example of one of my own messages here so you can see it in action.

The Point is simple: Just directly state your lesson. For example, I always tell people, “Leadership is always the problem and leadership is always the solution.” Your Point should be simple and direct, just like that.

Next comes the Story. The Story needs to show the negative consequences of not following the Point and then show the positive outcome of following it. For example, I always follow up the Point above with the story of my own leadership crisis. Back around 2013, my franchise was in chaos. I literally had employees trying to sabotage the business, and even the ones who weren’t actively against me were doing sloppy, lazy work.

At the time, I told myself it was their fault. My moment of clarity happened when I was on vacation in Palm Springs, Calif. with my family and I realized that all the chaos was my fault. I was being too timid as leader and I was allowing people to operate with low standards. I literally cut the vacation in half and drove us all home, chanting in my head, It’s time to man up, it’s time to man up. When I got home, I fired everyone I needed to fire, including my business partner, and established higher expectations for myself and for my team. In other words, I started to act like a real leader.

That leads us to the Metaphor. The Metaphor needs to demonstrate the Point once again, but from a different angle. For example, the leadership metaphor I always use is the difference between a bad military general and a good one.

A good general will make a firm decision, communicate it clearly to his troops, and speak with confidence so that the troops will believe they’re on the path to victory. A bad general will go back and forth on his decisions, look to his troops for validation, and leave everybody feeling panicked because they feel like nobody is really in charge.

You can plug any message into the Point, Story, Metaphor formula. If it looks repetitive to you, that’s the point. It’s designed to not just deliver information, but also make the listener feel confident about implementing that information themselves.

Related: So, What’s Your Story? 3 Ways Storytelling Can Help Boost Your Business.

Why you need stories at every level

As an entrepreneur, you need to use the Point, Story, Metaphor formula to sell your product or service to your market. That shouldn’t surprise you: Virtually all proven selling systems are based on the Point, Story, Metaphor formula or something similar.

It doesn’t stop there, though: You also need to use Point, Story, Metaphor throughout your hiring and training process to attract and keep the best talent for your team. This goes back to what I was talking about in my last article: You don’t want “employees” who only show up for the paycheck, do the bare minimum, clock in a little late and clock out a little early.

Instead, you want impact-driven team members who have an entrepreneurial mindset and constantly work to deliver greater results to your clients. Frankly, those people are rare, but you can make sure you attract them to your business by telling a compelling story about why your business is different. Those high-performing people want to work for a business with strong values and a strong message — just like they have in their own lives.

Plus, having a strong story helps you differentiate yourself from other businesses who offer a similar product or service. For example, I’ve been a member of Joe Polish’s Genius Network for years. Part of why I’ve stuck with it is because I believe in his story. Polish is very public about the fact that he used to struggle with addiction, and now that he’s recovering he’s dedicated to supporting addiction recovery services to help out people who have struggled like him. Plus, he even offers employment to recovering addicts who are serious about turning their lives around. It’s an inspiring example, and it’s part of why I’m so committed to staying in his group.

Related: Why Your Frontline Staff Need to Be Your Best Storytellers

“But, I don’t have a story, what do I do?”

Yes, you do. Here’s all you need to do to find your story: First, ask yourself why you chose to be an entrepreneur. You had other options besides starting your own business. Plenty of those options would’ve come with less stress and anxiety. Why did you choose this?

When you have that answer, ask yourself why again. Then ask why again. Keep asking yourself why and writing down your answers. When you’re somewhere between five and 10 whys deep, you’ll have your story.

Here’s the amazing thing: No matter how weird or different you think your story is, you’ll start discovering people all over who identify with it once you start sharing it. And as you attract those people to become your clients, your customers, your team members, and your business partners, you will build the foundation of a true business empire.

Related Video: Why the Best Brands Are the Best Storytellers