The Anatomy of Story-Selling

Storytelling is Ingrained in Us as Humans.

Our ancestors communicated with each other by drawing pictures on cave walls, stories are part of human nature. When we developed the ability to speak, we created stories to pass information on to the next generation.

To this day, we create a narrative instinctively every day of our lives. The narrative can be about ourselves, someone else, or even strangers at a restaurant. (Have you ever looked at a couple eating and thought “I bet they’re on a first date.”?)

Or to put it another way –

Just as the brain detects patterns in the visual forms of nature — a face, a figure, a flower — and in sound, so too it detects patterns in information. Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning.”

Frank Rose

Turns out, our brain doesn’t care whether we are reading about an experience or actually experiencing something in real life, neurologically the same areas of the brain are stimulated.

For example: when someone describes throwing a ball, our motor cortex lights up. When someone describes a singer as having a raspy voice, our sensory cortex illuminates.

In other words, when we read a list of benefits or features, we hear a bunch of words. When we listen to a story, we live it.

Stories are also how we retain information. When a story resonates with us, it creates or mimics emotion. The larger the emotional response, the higher the chance the person will remember it.

“So any story will work? How do I do that while trying to sell my product?”

Valid question. The short answer is no, not just any story. Just like every story you read or hear doesn’t evoke an emotional response. Your story needs to relate to your reader. You know who your target audience is. You know some of their likes and dislikes, their fears and their objections.

So you want to create a persona; a character your audience can relate to, or would want to hear from. This could be another client, or someone well known within your company that your audience would want to hear from, and would be more apt to trust.

Not every story needs a bad guy, sometimes overcoming an obstacle can be conflict enough. Other times, there doesn’t need to be any conflict, the story just needs to spark the emotion you’re after.

Implement your products into the story. Since I work primarily in travel, I’ll use a travel example.

If I were to show you this picture of a hotel:

Then, I told you that every room category has a king size bed, includes daily breakfast, has a central location and is reasonably priced… assuming it is located in a city you’re traveling to, would you book it based off that information? Maybe.

What if I told you I stayed there? What if I told you about how my husband and I decided to wear the complimentary bathrobes down to the breakfast room where we stacked our plates with the plethora of breakfast options (and coffee, can’t forget the coffee) then returned to our room, crawled under the covers of the king size bed and ate our breakfast while admiring the street traffic outside?


My best friend and I could not figure out where to go for dinner, so we chatted with the front desk attendant whose name we learned is Kaiulani, and by the end of the conversation we were all laughing so hard we were crying but she managed to direct us to a restaurant nearby that we never would have found on our own.

You can do it regardless of who your ideal client is, you can shape the story to relate to each one.

You don’t want to be too repetitive or use cliches. According to research, overused phrases don’t light up the brain any more than the language processor. Meaning, even if your words contain a feeling or action, all your reader processes is words. An example might be “feeling light as a feather”.

Consider hiring a professional writer if you’re not comfortable with your story-selling abilities. Story-selling works in any industry, it’s not limited to B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), this technique is for H2H (human to human) regardless of who your audience is. Every person can relate to stories, are inspired by stories, and remember stories.

Wanna learn more? Check out 3 Ways Content Marketing Can Build Your Brand

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