passion sells-storytelling techniques

Passion Sells, Not Sex – Why Storytelling Matters in Small Business

Just imagine waking up every day to go to work doing what you love.

If asked, the people that choose to support the local community store will say they like the people there, they want to see them succeed, and they feel it holds a better atmosphere. Small business finds success because they have a passion for what they sell, and their marketing focuses on that.

The local café near you started because the owner loved coffee so much that they wanted to run a business that makes the perfect cup of coffee. A successful business builds a bridge between what they offer and creating an emotional connection in a short timeframe.

The café store advertisements aren’t limited to a small message that they love coffee. Rather, by using storytelling techniques, they tell you the story about how they traveled around the world, sampling the local coffee beans until they picked the ones that produced the finest coffee, and brought them to the shop for you to enjoy. Their passion sells you on their product.

Don’t be afraid to be passionate about your product or service.

Translating passion to sales

Remember why people enjoy a local business – it’s the person-to-person experience. Take every opportunity to be with your customers or employees to tell your brand’s story. Advertisements in print and digital are fine tools, but people seek the mom and pop stores to experience their passion up-close and personal.

Passion sells.

Tell stories that build your authority in your local area. Why should your customers choose you over the bigger stores? Be the trusted, professional resource about your product to your customers. Think about what they need and how your business can help fulfill those needs.

If your customers are passionate about coffee, host an event with one of your baristas to teach them how to grind their coffee beans, offer a taste-testing event where your customers can try a new flavor and give their opinion about them, and more. This helps you in several ways – build authority, provides a new opportunity to show your passion, and fulfills a need your customers had.

Walt Disney once said, “If I can’t find a theme, I can’t make a film anyone else will feel. I can’t laugh at intellectual humor. I’m just corny enough to like to have a story hit me over the heart.”

The top brand stories provide 3 things:

  • Have themes. Why was this story brought up? What does it convey?
  • Relates to the audience. Gives a reason why the audience listens.
  • A call to action.

Humans are hardwired for stories

People love heroes, journey stories, surprising twists, emotional layers and happy endings. The most successful business storytellers often focus the story, carries a strong message about their brand, and it can take as short of a time as a 30-second commercial to create an emotional connection. When we listen to stories, the brain’s neurons light up as we follow along the story as if we were doing the action ourselves. The listener aligns with the storyteller’s mindset, and as the story is told, they connect to a feeling and relate to the subject.

Here are three storytelling techniques to help your business find the right story to tell:

#1 The hero’s journey


The hero’s journey story is when the hero decides to leave home and set out on an adventure. They travel from the known to the unknown. It takes the audience on a journey, shows the risks involved, and demonstrates something new that you learned.

The coffee lover decides to leave home to travel the world and find the best tasting coffee. She doesn’t have a set destination, but she discovers along the way that the locals are more accepting of her if she doesn’t act like the typical tourist.

#2 Mapping


You build the story by mapping out the tension and the drama, but it doesn’t require a happy ending. The story sets the setting, followed by challenges and a rising action, and then it concludes in some way.

The coffee lover is late arriving at the airport. She rushes to the terminal, but the flight is delayed due to weather. She soon takes the long trip, but her luggage was lost in the baggage check. As a result, she spends most of the night in the airport talking to various types of people she would never otherwise meet. One person takes her to the local coffee shop next to the airport and she discovers a new flavor by sampling the local brew.

#3 Converging


This type of story uses a speech structure that demonstrates how the different strands of thinking came together to form one product or idea.

The coffee lover gathered testimonials about types of coffee machines from all of the areas she traveled to and uses that information to design a better coffee brewer.

The science behind storytelling

Humans are extremely social creatures that rely on stories to train our behaviors. Stories guide us in the right direction as a species and provide an emotional connection to a lesson that showcases one of the following; expanding intelligence, cooperation, pattern-seeking, and recognizing the opinions of others. Storytellers use these as a way to structure their story content to get a customer to complete the business goal.

Think back to the café shop example.

The owner wanted to provide the best coffee because they were passionate about great tasting coffee and so they travelled all over, pitted samples against each other, and categorized the flavors they liked the best. The owner now wants you to judge their opinion by trying what they have to offer to see if it is delicious. By telling this story, the owner entices the listener to challenge their opinion.

The best business storytellers know how to relate to the customer by connecting to what their audience cares about, good coffee, and will translate that curiosity and passion to inspire an action –buying a cup of coffee.

What is your favorite storytelling technique?

Kathleen is a New Jersey blogger with an interest in brand design and a passion for graphic design, illustration, and social media. She loves to deliver inspiration to others to give them the means to achieve their branding and design goals.

Leave a Reply