Suddenly Marketing

Brand Messaging | Content Strategy | Writing

Why and how story makes the best marketing

“You’ll never believe what happened to me today.”

You hear those words, and you know something good is coming – a story.

Humans are wired for story. It’s in our DNA. Story is how we process the world. It’s how we teach and how we learn – stringing events together to show “what happened next.”

The language of story is so much a part of how we perceive the world and express ourselves, that it becomes almost invisible. That anecdote you told your friend at the water cooler about last weekend’s escapades – story. The traditional family yarn about the time your dad tailed you on a date – story. The excuse you gave your boss when you were late this morning – story. Each of our lives is a long sequence of stories that, strung together, paint a picture of who we are, what we do, where we’re going, and what we believe.

Your brand and business have stories, too. They are one of your most powerful marketing assets, but they are often overlooked because we take story for granted. We get hung up on fancy-schmancy marketing terms and social media widgets and the latest round of SEO rules. Those things are only tools to amplify and promote story. The story is what has the power to captivate and motivate.


Why is that? What is it about story that makes for good marketing?

There are four elements of story that bring a little magic to your marketing:


Stories make your marketing messages more memorable.  click to tweet

Because the structure is so familiar, story makes it easier for us to understand and remember what we hear. We struggle to understand a complex set of sales statistics, but if they are translated into a story the meaning suddenly becomes clear. We quickly forget a long list of features and benefits, but recall in detail a story about how those benefits changed the fate of a customer’s business. Translating individual facts into a full story makes them more memorable and repeatable.


Stories help prospects and customers relate to your products and services on an emotional level. click to tweet

You’ve heard it before, but I’m going to tell you again: people make buying decisions based on emotions, not logic. Yes, we compare products and prices. Yes, we justify and analyze. But, in the end – though we rationalize our decisions with the facts, we make our decisions based on emotional responses. (Read Bryan Eisenberg’s great post on ClickZ: Buying is Not a Rational Decision.) Story draws us in. It transports us into the mindset of the story’s hero. It triggers an emotional response by hitting on the hot buttons that make us tick.


Stories make excellent marketing material because story arc shows change.  click to tweet

At the heart of any good story is a strong conflict – good vs. evil, yes vs. no, win vs. lose. At the end of a satisfying story there is resolution. The rest of the story – from point A to point B – is a journey that brings change – to the hero and the situation. Your brand stories show – in a clear and tangible way – how your products and services change your customers’ lives for the better.


Stories give you a chance to creatively showcase your brand’s personality and philosophy. click to tweet

Finally, stories provide an opportunity to add some personality to your marketing. The narrative voice you use brings an intimate and human element to your marketing. Stories are also a great vehicle for highlighting your company’s philosophies. In the same way that fables were used to teach lessons, your brand stories can bring your company’s values to life.


Stories. We live them every day. We express our entire lives in the story framework. They entertain and educate us. They give our ideas roots and a voice. Using story brings emotion and authenticity to your marketing. And, it’s a hell of a lot more fun that lists of features and benefits.



If you’re interested in learning more about how stories can help you make stronger connections with your prospects and customers, drop me a line. Excavating and crafting brand stories is one of the things I do best.


photo credit: Loren Javier via photo pin cc


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  1. Laura

    This ties right into Simon Sinek’s Ted talk where he says:

    “People don’t buy WHAT you do.
    People buy WHY you do it.”

    “Martin Luther King didn’t give his ‘I Have Plan’ speech – he said ‘I Have a Dream’ [and so] the people who bought his WHY, who believed what he believed came…”

    I want to sell my WHY and I definitely intend to do that by story. Story is the only way to stay honest.

    • Jamie Lee

      “Story is the only way to stay honest.”
      I love that, Laura!

      Also love Simon Sinek – have been meaning to get his book. I have a feeling I’ll be shouting “Yes!” a lot.


      • Laura

        Yeah, I heard about Simon awhile back and then you reminded me in your other post, so I made the time to check him out. I love the way he talks about selling yourself and still being a humanitarian. This way of business speaks to me and my style of how I believe, how I live and ultimately, how I want to brand!

  2. Stories are great, aren’t they Jamie?

    Yes, we base all our actions based on emotions (We may think that it is logical or rational decision, but the decision was made on emotional backgrounds more than on logical ones).

    Yes, it is all because we are wired like that 😉


    I love stories, and I try to incorporate stories (Well, my experiences) into my blog posts (most of my blog posts are either observations or experiments/experience).

    But, there is one thing: How we deliver the story.

    Stories are great, but if they aren’t delivered in the appropriate manner depending upon the needs and wants of the prospective audience, they won’t be much effective.



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