open hearts, evoke emotion and build empathy

It’s almost impossible to activate a tribe through the use of rational facts, figures, features and benefits. That’s why storytelling is the new marketing. Stories open hearts, evoke emotion and build empathy. They advance us through the initial ‘know, like, trust’ phases in order to build authentic relationships in no time.

Stories can be shared with an audience of one or 1000. They can be shared through any medium, from blogging to public speaking to paintings, books and films. Stories are shared by leaders, artists, speakers, photographers, trainers and coaches. (My advice to any coach: limit advice and be liberal with story sharing.)

Develop a list of finely crafted stories that you can draw on at any time. You can tell personal and business stories of your past that have shaped where you are today. You can share your why I do what I do story or your imagine if … story. You can tell your story or other people’s stories. They can be inspirational, cautionary or caring stories, or they can demonstrate your values in action. When telling a story don’t focus so much on the answers to the what, where, when and who questions. Spend far more time on answering the questions that start with why.

I was thrilled to see Sandy McDonald speak at TEDx Melbourne recently to an audience of 890 TED enthusiasts. Her words were heart-warming indeed and were rewarded with a standing ovation.

What Sandy did so beautifully was weave together three highly moving stories—that of her father who lied about his age to become a bomber pilot in World War II at age 18; how the simple idea of ‘knitting a square’ backed by the power of the internet created a worldwide movement to provide thousands of blankets to South African orphans; and how the life of her first granddaughter, born severely premature, was saved.

Her theme? Stories save lives. From these stories, Sandy has built a successful business through which she helps other small business owners share their stories and create a powerful online community.

Recently Yamini Naidu (business storyteller), Jon Yeo (TEDx Melbourne curator), Sandy McDonald and I coached a group of 18 courageous change- makers to unearth, create and share their stories over a four-week period. Each of these wonderful people were given the opportunity to share their very short TED-like talk with a public audience of 120 people at a speaker graduation night, where their talks were professionally filmed.

The ideas, energy and enthusiasm generated by this committed group of visionaries were simply amazing. As coaches, it was such a privilege to help them shift from wondering and thinking about their purpose in business to speaking it and sharing it in the public domain. Stories help you unearth and clarify your purpose. Power to the storytellers!

In the business arena, there’s no better investment for your marketing dollar than honing your story-sharing skills. Great ideas backed by a purposeful story and the ability to share it at will, whether on a TED stage or when pitching to an investor, have the capacity to power up your business and even change lives.

What stories do you feel compelled to share? How might you use them to activate your tribe? What are you going to do to get them out of your head and out into the world?


This is an excerpt from Chapter 8, ‘Promotion – how you spread the word’ of Conscious Marketing by Carolyn Tate.

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