A good story is the fastest route between you and winning new business. Why?

Stories are easy to remember.

How many times do you need to hear an urban legend like “the kidney heist” before you can repeat it yourself? My guess is that hearing it just once will do the trick. Maybe you’ll miss some of the finer points, but you’ll be able to get across the general idea.

Now think about the last new business pitch you gave or prospecting email you sent. Did it have the same effect?

To be fair, the kidney heist is filled with the kind of lurid details we humans love but that have no place in a new business pitch. But the other thing that the kidney heist has going for it is that it’s a story – and stories have a completely legitimate role to play in winning you more new business.

Stories make the intangible tangible.

Advertising is a craft that relies on abstract thought processes that lead to inspirational ideas like “Just do it.”

The problem is, abstract ideas are difficult to describe and even more difficult to value. “Just do it.” means little without the context of Nike, the brand which it’s served so well for so long.

I bet you run into this problem all the time. Think about how often you search for the right way to describe the work you do only to succumb to meaningless, anemic phrases like “fully integrated,” “digital-first” and “consumer at the core.”

Stories, on the other hand, make the intangible tangible.

They give your prospective client, who may know almost nothing about you, something to relate to. Stories make it easier for them to remember you and to repeat to others what they liked about you.

This is not just my personal theory. There is science to back this up.

Neuroscientists have done research that shown our brains are hard-wired to engage when we’re being told a story. In fact, storytelling is essential for us to process raw data into information we can act on.  

You write stories all day, every day

You’re in the business of telling great stories:

VW “Think Small.”

Apple “Get a Mac”

Dove “Real Beauty”

And, of course Nike “Just do it”

You just need to learn how to tell them about yourself.

It’s much easier to tell someone else’s story – you have the advantage of objectivity—but you can harness it to tell your own story. In the next installment of this 3-part series, you'll discover exactly how.