People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Stories

Matt Lillywhite

Let me tell you something that most people know, but very few people are willing to say while in the workplace. Nobody enjoys being forced to listen to a PowerPoint presentation. Similarly, hardly anyone loves sitting through a lengthy sales pitch. They’re both boring. People don’t buy products. Instead, they buy stories. Because when someone becomes emotionally invested in your brand, they’re much more likely to purchase whatever you sell. The same goes for pretty much anything. Over the past few years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you’re selling cars, books, or anything else. Facts won’t get you very far when it comes to sales. However, emotions will. Quoting an article published by Forbes: “Each of us has a dress, shoes, a tie or a bag that we bought only because a salesperson in the shop was kind to us, or just because we were in search of positive emotions. Most of us strive to be happy in our personal lives, so we often seek ways to feel good and are willing to pay for them.” Storytelling is a powerful tool that you can use to create a meaningful relationship with your audience and sell a lot more products. Here’s how to start.

Adapt Your Message For Different Audiences.

Don’t let your brand be bland. That’s something I found out the hard way. For a while, I worked in digital marketing. Specifically, helping people in the music industry grow their audience using social media.

Many of the artists I worked with didn’t want to adjust their messaging for different audiences. They thought it was “too much effort.” So they often put out one Facebook post per month, and then complained when they rarely got any engagement. The reason? People didn’t care.

Creating a strong brand identity requires you to adapt your message for multiple audiences. Because chances are, your audience has different demographics, cultural differences, and many other variables. They’re not the same person; so don’t treat them as if they are.

The truth is that there’s no universal method of storytelling that will resonate with everyone. Hence, why you need to adapt your message for each audience to resonate with them on a meaningful level.

For example, what works on Twitter may not perform well on LinkedIn. People use platforms for different reasons. Similarly, you might need to adjust your language when communicating with different age groups.

Get on your audience’s level. Use language, cultural references, and phrases to help them relate and resonate with your brand. This subtle shift in approach will completely change people’s perception of you.

Use A Hook To Attract People’s Attention.

I used to be terrible at telling a story. Each of my points was often constructed in a way that was difficult for people to understand. Most people stopped listening after a few seconds because I was an expert at making people lose interest in whatever I had to say.

If you don’t want to be like my past self, you need an interesting hook to attract people’s attention before it fades. After all, a study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is shortening due to the amount of information that is presented to the public.

Begin each interaction with a bold statement or by asking a relevant question to your audience. Because once your customers are interested in what you have to say, they’re much more likely to continue listening.

Engage With People’s Emotions.

So they engage with you. Find a way to tell a story that resonates with your audience on a meaningful level. The effect it’ll have on your brand will be profound.

Disney often puts storytelling at the heart of everything they do. In The Lion King, Simba experiences adventure and adversity, followed by profound lessons in the conclusion of the movie. As an audience, we are with him every step of the way. And as a result of this powerful and emotive storytelling, we connect with the Disney brand on a meaningful level.

I learned about engaging with emotions when I was buying a car with my dad a few years ago. The salesman at the dealership didn’t bother going into the specifications of each model. After having coffee together in the foyer, he knew that my dad just cared about having a reliable vehicle that he could use to get from A to B.

So instead of wasting time talking about things that my dad wouldn’t be interested in, he adapted his sales approach to fit his audience. The salesman spoke about how comfy it would be on long journeys with the family, and how spacious the trunk was for groceries. My dad was sold.

When you engage with people’s emotions, it’s much easier to relate to your audience on a meaningful level. Quoting an article published by Entrepreneur Magazine:

“Whatever you’re selling, try to determine the main factors that impel people to take the action you want them to take, and then appeal to those factors while keeping the intellect happy with arguments that satisfy it.”

Sales pitches that don’t appeal to your audience are often considered to be extremely boring. However, stories with depth and emotion aren’t.

Final Thoughts.

Storytelling is a powerful tool that you can use to increase sales, improve the quality of your marketing, and other important aspects of business.

So if you want to build a meaningful relationship with your audience, appeal to people’s emotions, instead of shoving endless amounts of facts and statistics down their throat.

The result? Your audience will become a lot more emotionally invested in your brand and whatever you have to say.

Article originally published to Medium

Written by Matt Lillywhite