Storytelling is as old as humankind. Stories have been told for 1000s of years, and in all likeliness, the telling of stories will continue “forever.”
But what is it about storytelling that resonates with us? What is it that makes us stop, lean it, and pay attention? What is it that makes stories so powerful?
Stories are a big part of every culture. And all around the world, people have been telling stories since huddling around fires in a cave.
Think about it. We all grew up with stories. They form the web that connects us and holds us together. Stories are passed on from generation to generation. Through stories, we learn, grow, and benefit from the wisdom and experiences of others.
Stories help us internalize and remember important pieces of information. While they entertain us, they also impart beliefs and convictions.
Through stories, we solve problems and find new solutions. But beyond that, they also inspire and motivate us to do our best.
Storytelling in Business
But storytelling isn’t limited to sitting around the fire, whispering scary tales. No, storytelling has its place in business too.
When you include stories in your communications and marketing materials, you create a deeper connection with your customers. Stories make it easier for patients to see the relationship between the services and products you provide and how they may benefit from them.
Stories help move customers past the basic product features and service facts. They establish the connection between your service, the benefits they will gain from using them, and the problems that will be solved for them.
By their very nature, stories evoke our emotions; we laugh, cry, or even feel afraid, all by listing to a simple story! And that’s the reason why stories have the power to motivate and inspire us in ways that facts and figures simply can’t.
Let me give you an example of what I mean…
Let’s assume you have a wellness practice. Your focus is on helping people first become and then stay healthy. Your patients accomplish their goals by making lifestyle changes and utilizing preventive care. And chances that one of their goals would be to maintain a healthy weight.
You might create a weight loss program and advertise it as: “… our weight loss program will help you lose a minimum of 20 pounds over the next six months through… “
Alternatively, you might use a story as part of your ad. While you would still outline what people can expect from your program, this time, however, you would also include a story in your advertisement.
Perhaps, you’d tell the story of one of your patients, an older woman, and how her life was changed because of your program. How she lost “32 pounds regained her energy and self-confidence, and now, once again, can keep up with her small grandkids. She’s committed to sticking to the program because she wants to set a good example for her children and grandchildren…”
Now isn’t a story like that more powerful and motivating than facts and figures alone? Understand this, stories that make us feel emotions will beat basic facts and figures any day! Storytelling in business is all about sharing information in a way so that it becomes more relatable and memorable.
Stories are a powerful tool that can help you with any aspect of your practice, be it reaching a broader or different target market, connecting with patients on a more meaningful level, or encourage them to take an active part in their healthcare.
Relatable & Memorable
A good story means compiling information in a way that makes it more relatable and memorable. A good story will sweep you up and grab you. It will make you empathize right along with the main characters.
But a truly great story can transform you! It has the power to change your perspective and get you thinking by illustrating a point in ways not only easy to understand but also easy to remember.
Storytelling is a powerful strategy not only to entertain but also to influence the people in your market. After all, we prefer to work with people we know, like, and trust.
You may share a personal story, one you’ve heard about, or construct one out of thin air. When it comes to your clinical business, it’s always good practice to let people know which it is.
Stories are about personal experience; don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. Telling stories allows us to share something about ourselves, which helps to build and increase trust.
If people are going to work with you, they want to know who you are. You can build a lot of trust and loyalty with storytelling. Share a little about yourself, talk about your passions, share your reasons for entering the medical field, and what your practice means to you.
And, talk about how you can help and what you can do for them.
Tell your story with purpose and focus. Be clear about why you want to share a particular story; what is your end goal? When you have clarity, you’ll find it easier to pick a supporting story.
So before you go with a story, ask yourself why…
- Is it to build trust?
- Is it so readers will get to know you better?
- Is it to convince readers to become a patient in your practice?
- Is it to show your expertise in a particular area?
Storytelling in business becomes powerful only when done with purpose. It can help you both grow your practice reach and your bottom line.
Where to Use Storytelling
Storytelling may be applied throughout your business; here a few examples of where to use them.
You can use stories on every page of your site; however, there is one page where the use of story is mandatory.
It’s your “About” page! It’s the one page that will benefit from a good story more than any other page of your site.
Why? Not only is your About page the most visited page of your site, but more than that, people want to know who you are, what you care about, what you represent, and if they can trust you.
Ask yourself if the About page of your site represents who you are and what your practice stands for? Is it written in a conversational tone or stiff academic language?
Use conversational language and give your readers a glimpse into who you are, what you stand for, and what your practice is all about.
Use storytelling in your marketing materials, including brochures, flyers, and educational reports published by your office.
You may include stories of your background and experience. Alternatively, use success stories of people you’ve worked with in the past. If you have testimonials, put them to use.
Please remember that you must always get written permission to publish and share any stories or testimonials.
Giving presentations is a great way to grow your practice; it’s also the perfect medium for sharing a good story. Adding stories to your presentations creates interest, facilitates engagement, and helps people remember your information.
So, whenever you give a talk, be sure to use storytelling to maintain interest and increase retention of the information presented.
- We all grow up with stories. They are the perfect medium to help us learn and retain important pieces of information.
- In business, stories show us how a product or service can fit into our lives. Stories move us past the bare facts and figures and show how a product can benefit us, how it can solve our problems, and how it can make a difference.
- Stories motivate and inspire in ways facts and figures cannot. Storytelling in business is about sharing information in ways, so it’s relatable and memorable.
- People want to know, like, and trust you before working with you. The best way to accomplish it is by sharing something about yourself, your life, and how you can be of service.
- Storytelling in business is most impactful when done with purpose and focus.
- Apply storytelling with integrity, to the benefit of your patients.
Tell us what you think and share how you use stories in your business… just leave your comment below this post.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, MAc., EAMP; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“