How to Drive Sales with Story

How to Drive Sales with Story

Once upon a time, in a misty land far distant, lost to the reaches of time…


You might be wondering why we’re starting off with a fairytale opening. The reason is simple: the same addictive qualities of bedtime stories can help increase social media engagement and drive sales.

In fact, many marketers are becoming convinced that the human brain is wired for story. From movies, to online entertainment, to social media, we just can’t get enough of it.

So, how do you harness the selling power of story when you’re not an author?

  1. Create a Protagonist
    Unlike in a novel, it’s better if your protagonist is a real person. Get a customer to share how your product or service helped them or made them feel better. You can coach them on the narrative by asking what life was like before and after your product.

    Even if your product isn’t hugely life-altering, sharing how it made someone’s life just a little brighter can still inspire others to reach out and buy.

    Don’t be afraid to edit your protagonist’s tale a little bit for clarity, but leaving some rawness and vulnerability will make the story more compelling.

    Why it works: Customers will be engaged by hearing from someone who isn’t a marketer, but rather a person just like them. This practice lends your brand verisimilitude.

  2. Post Multiple Parts
    Daytime TV knows the value of a good cliffhanger. Over the course of a few days, post an on-going conversation, ending with “Part # comes tomorrow” or “Stay tuned for part #.” This technique is proven to increase engagement — your customers’ brains will instinctively want to close this knowledge loop, so they’ll keep tuning in until you’re done.

    Running a sequence of story-telling ads creates curiosity, and heightens pleasure at the conclusion of a story.

    Why it works: Creating a sequence or themed post-arc is a nice change of pace from one-off posts, and humans will satisfy their instinctual need for closure.

  3. Use Colorful, Dramatic Language
    If your descriptions are “dull as dishwater,” full of clichés, and delivered in the text equivalent of a monotone, your potential customers will likely click away for something more interesting.

    Scour for jazzy, scintillating words, or invest in the perennial marketing classic Words that Sell by Rick Bayan.

    Why it works: Using unexpected phrases or unusual words clue your reader’s minds into paying attention. Just be careful not to write above your audience.

  4. Create Conflict
    In your personal life, creating conflict is almost never a good thing. In marketing, it’s brilliant. Paint your product as a bright, shining hero pitted against an enemy.

    Who’s your adversary? Whatever your product is fixing or defeating — anything from bad breath to boredom, to bad style.

    Why it works: Conflict is the basis for all modern storytelling and creates an irresistible pull towards your content.

  5. Invite Participation
    Storytelling is a powerful tool, and so is interaction. Invite prospects to imagine life with your product or service by hosting a small giveaway. Post featured products and pictures that have been tagged with a branded hashtag. It can be frightening to relinquish control of your narrative — but it can be rewarding too.

    Why it works: With the rise of social media, it helps to have stories that are three-dimensional and that involve your customer. People like to feel like a part of something. Crafting a tribal narrative can help drive engagement and boost sales.