Sex Sells, but Everyone Has a Story to Tell

I was 17 years old, 5-foot 5-inches tall and 120 pounds dripping wet. I was put in charge of the rear platform station of the Galaxy, a large rollercoaster at an amusement park where I grew up on Long Island. Nothing about this rollercoaster was automated, by the way, and that included the braking system for stopping 250-pound cars that can hold 4 adults, coming into the station at 30 mph. Just me, three air brake levers, and one mechanical brake engaged by leaning the little weight I had against a 5-foot long stick.

One of the most common questions about marketing I hear from small business owners is, “Where do I start? And how do I start?” The answers are easier than you think and closer than you know.

Marketing is most successful when a person’s passing glance becomes an engaged viewer. That is, how do you grasp the potential customer’s attention? Well, we all heard the expression “sex sells,” right? That is not the advice I’m offering today! The point is that advertisers have used sexy images for years, because they grab the viewer by the shirt, shouting “look over here, right now!” Sex does sell, but that is not the only way to engage an audience.

Everyone likes to hear, read, or watch an interesting story that is well told. I do mean everyone. The only caveat is that not everyone enjoys the same stories. I’m not a fan of horror, but my wife lives on a diet of Stephen King books and horror films. The best television commercials tell a 30- or 60-second story, packaged in quality production. The production is secondary to the plot; unless you’re watching a wildly staged car chase or other intense action, the production values are only supportive to the story. The story or plot is paramount.

Of course, small businesses don’t have big budgets. They aren’t seeking national exposure through national television ads. But they are interested in marketing themselves locally or to a prospective client list. The principle remains the same: People want to listen to or read a good story. Every businessperson has at least one (and usually dozens).

Look at the following short list, and find at least one topic that resonates with you:

  • Why did you get into this business?
  • What did you do successfully or (even better) unsuccessfully before you started this company?
  • What did I learn from my previous business experiences/failures/successes?
  • When did you realize that this profession was a good fit for you (or how did you help someone who really benefited from your service)?
  • A funny thing happened on the way to work…
  • A funny thing happened while I was at work…
  • A funny thing happened on the way home from work…
  • How did I sell my very first widget?
  • How did I come up with my idea for this product?
  • What is the best question a client ever asked me?

What about a story about being out on the road at meetings? Or the time when you learned about what the customer really thought was important (and it wasn’t what I thought it was)? Can you tell your story about one or more of these?

It’s true that everyone has a story to tell. It’s also true that not everyone is a good storyteller. Whether your marketing story is told through words, with video, or voice, readers will engage with you more effectively if the tale is told well. That’s where businesses like Revisions come in. We help people tell their stories in a way that will persuade their customers to read right to the end. Contact me by clicking here.

Market your stories. This is one of the best ways to capture your customer’s attention.

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