Storytelling for Fun and Profit

How to use persuasive storytelling to amplify your business's marketing.


There is a simple but insanely effective tool that makes selling your products and services easier than ever.

I'm talking about a simple yet persuasive story.

Chances are, if you aren't using them in your business, one of your competitors is.

That's why I've created a simple research-backed formula for creating a persuasive brand story.

Let's get into it.

The Strength of Weak Ties

In 1973, a game-changing study called "The Strength of Weak Ties"[1][2] was released in the American Journal of Sociology.

In the study, Mark Granovetter released in-depth research that showed something no one expected:

Paradox: The people in your life whom you are the least connected with offer you the most opportunities. (click to tweet)

This idea may not seem "game-changing" by today's standards, but this famous research paper has been cited over 24,000 times[3] because it is so important to the way the world works.

For business owners, this means that the most important people in your business are people you probably haven't met yet.

As you can see, this research has huge implications for small business owners, and today I'm going to show you how to use it to grow your business.

How to Get People Talking About You


In the 40 years that have passed since this famous study first made waves, much of the world has changed but, at the end of the day, humans haven't really evolved.

We still have:

This means that, if you want to get other humans to remember your business, you need to create space in their mind so that they become a weak tie and tell others about your brand.

In my experience, there is no better way to do this than through an effective story.

A good story is the backbone of word-of-mouth marketing. (click to tweet)

The Power of Stories

Now, without getting all geeky on you, we humans have a special ability to store and recall stories.[4] This is why evolutionarily stories have been our primary way of collecting and communicating information.

This information could be about which fruits are poisonous and which are safe or even where the best source of fresh water is.

Simply put, humans are wired to recall stories.[5]

That's why, today, I want to show you how to leverage the power of persuasive storytelling to communicate what your business does, who it serves, and how you have an impact on the world.

If you can do this effectively, I believe that you can use the "Strength in Weak Ties" effect to your advantage by encouraging people who resonate with your story to share information about you and your business with their friends and loved ones.

Goals in Creating a Successful Brand Story

As you craft your persuasive story, remember people like talking about experts who:

Your goal in creating your own brand story is to position yourself in one of these four major categories, or all four categories, in the eyes of your ideal audience.

This isn't nearly as complex as it sounds, I promise, especially if you know the structure.

The Structure of a Killer Story

Hero with a thousand faces
If you're a movie buff, you might have noticed that most insanely successful movies follow a similar format.

This format is known as "The Hero's Journey" or the monomyth[6][7] and it is present in many insanely successful movies such as:

This format was first popularized back in 1949 by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.[9] But the reason this format works so well is because it is the same format that has been used in myths for millennia.

With that in mind, I decided to create a simple formula based off the Hero's Journey to help small businesses better communicate what they do and for who.

The end result is what I call "The Journey to Success."

The Journey to Success (JTS)

The Journey to Success, is a simple five-step format that is a simplified version of the same formula used to craft the brilliant movies listed above.

Here it is:

  1. Identity - Who you were when you started your journey?
  2. Turn Against the Status Quo (TASQ) - What did you want to change about your prior identity / world?
  3. Struggle - What did you struggle against as you started to create change?
  4. Insight - What unique tool or insight did you gain that made overcoming this challenge easier?
  5. Resolution - Who are you today and who do you serve?

This simplified structure works especially well if you are a coach, consultant, author, speaker, or somebody who is involved in a business where you primarily sell and package your advice or insights.

If your business serves others in a more technical way or if you sell a product, you can use the exact same format — just tweak the formula to focus on the success of one of your clients or users.

To see how you can use this in your business, here are two brief examples.

Example #1: Selling Consulting/Coaching

Here is the story I created for my first marketing business. (I no longer do consulting and don't run the business anymore).

Gwun Brand Story (true)

As a lowly marketing coordinator at a luxury real estate firm making $10 an hour, I was broke and hopeless. (Identity)

After a particularly rough day, I decided that there had to be a better way to make money and have an impact in the world. (TASQ)

At work I was insanely frustrated with how bad most Realtor's email marketing was so I decided to find a better way. (Struggle)

Then, one day I was day dreaming about work and had a brilliant insight that allowed me to create a better way for Realtors to market properties via email. (Insight)

Today, I use this new way of marketing properties to help Realtors sell homes 58 percent quicker. The results are outstanding. (Resolution)

Here is a great video example.[10]

Example #2: Selling a Product/Service

Here is how I would use the Journey to Success structure to promote Persuasive Storytelling using the story of one of my clients.

Happy Puff Pastry Brand Story (fictional)

Happy Puff Pastry is a small family-owned coffee shop just outside Atlanta, Georgia. (Identity)

Due the the pressures of larger coffee chains like Starbucks and the economic downturn, Jane (the owner of Happy Puff Pastry) was desperate to find a new way to market her boutique coffee shop online. (TASQ)

Jane tried spending time on Facebook and Twitter, but she just wasn't seeing any results. (Struggle)

One day, she discovered a simple strategy from this guy named Nicholas Reese called Persuasive Storytelling. (Insight)

She decided to give it a try and, after just a few months of implementing it in her business, Happy Puff Pastry is now more profitable and busier than ever! (Resolution)

Here is a great video example.[11]

Journey to Success Guidelines

As you begin to implement the Journey to Success story into your business here are a few key guidelines:

Words tell; stories sell. (click to tweet)

Stand Out From The Crowd - Craft Your Story

If there is one ten-minute exercise that I Would recommend to drastically improve your marketing, it would be to create your own Journey to Success Story.

A good brand story can do wonders for conversion rates and credibility, especially when used on your About page.

That said, I know that at least 90 percent of people who have read this article will never take the ten minutes required to implement this in their business so that they can leverage the power of "weak ties."

So, my question for you is: Will YOU be among that 90 percent, or will you make a difference?

Marketing Challenge: Craft your own Journey to Success story and leave a comment below. Feel free to include a link to your About page to get some extra exposure too.

Final Thought: Friends don't let friends have bad About pages. Do your one of your friends a favor and send them this article. They'll thank you for it later. [Use this email](mailto:?subject=Persuasive Storytelling&body=Hey, I found this research backed article on creating awesome stories to market your business. Check it out: /persuasive-storytelling/?utm_source=emailfriend "Send this article to a friend or colleague").

Reference List:

  1. 1973, Granovetter, The Strength of Weak Ties ^
  2. Outstanding Video Overview of the Strength of Weak Ties on Youtube. ^
  3. Strength of Weak Ties on Google Scholar ^
  4. There is an excellent summary of how our memory work on Wikipedia. ^
  5. 2010, Stevens, Speaker–listener neural coupling underlies successful communication ^
  6. The Wikipedia entry on the monomyth is outstanding. ^
  7. For even more digging, this is a simple overview of the entire monomyth. ^
  8. Here is a list of stories that use the monomyth structure on Wikipedia. ^
  9. The Hero With a Thousand Faces is one of the 100 most influential books of the 1900s. It's worth having in your library. Get it on Amazon. (aff) ^
  10. A viral example of promoting consulting through storytelling, even though it is a blatant rip from David Ogilvy. View video on Youtube. ^
  11. A simple video Wimpy, a South African brand, used to build goodwill with persuasive storytelling. View video on Youtube. ^
  12. Research shows that including an image next to a claim makes it more believable. Read the research here. Hat tip to my good friend Derek Halpern for pointing out this research. ^
Published: 2013-07-01