We do – it fleshes out the point, makes everything memorable, and hopefully a more enjoyable read. What could be wrong with that? Especially as we are told repeatedly that stories make customers like you. That’s because they will understand you and identify with you and your efforts as evidenced in your story.

Then again – is it best to make customers like you, or should you like them?

The perceived wisdom in sales is that you should try to get your customers to like you, and a simple way of doing that is to point out the similarities between you, and to compliment them. It works, but not in the way you think.

The critical ingredient

The wisdom is that the similarities and compliments cause people to feel that you like them.

The crucial difference is that people who think that you like them feel that they can trust you.

How to achieve trust

Find out about them, find the likeable bits and show them that they are liked by you in the same way as you would show a friend. Demonstrating your knowledge is less important at this stage.

Your route to success is about building a relationship based on trust. Then it becomes more of a partnership and that makes your customer much more likely to stick with you. Remember the old saying: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.


Where does storytelling fit in?

Everywhere we look we see stories. We’ve been researching Dorset food and drink companies recently, for purely personal reasons. We like to support local businesses and try to promote them, and there are so many excellent artisan suppliers of all sorts of good stuff. It’s a great area for speciality food and drink (vodka from milk, gin with gorse flowers and samphire, who knew?)

And they all tell their story.

There’s nothing wrong with the stories. They are front and centre on many websites. But to be honest we were frustrated with some.

And the problem?

The purpose of looking at any website is to get information.

Often that was difficult because first came the story. Eventually, or even sometimes not, we got to where we could get the goods, and how much they cost.

The Fine Line

We are told in designing our websites and communications that we live in a time poor world. We should grab attention, keep attention so hopefully our reader buys something.

Or at least leave them feeling well disposed towards our business. Not exasperated because they must read our story first or they can’t find crucial bits of information.

It’s harder to get people to like you in a one-way communication if you put barriers in their way. So, the stories we have been reading recently have a potential consequence: your reader may not like you if you talk mostly about yourself.

A better way

It is better to keep the reader’s attention by giving them what they want: the basic information first, so that they can decide whether their fundamental criteria are fulfilled. Do you make it easy to see where to obtain your product and how much it is?  People want to make quick and easy decisions about whether they want your product. Then you can deepen their experience by getting them engaged with the story so that they become more involved with your business and products.

We keep saying to clients that you must put the customer first. We keep saying that websites and other material should not talk about the business but talk about the customer. Customers are all tuned in to one station – WIIFM- What’s In It For Me. They have come to you to fix their problem, so please don’t sound self-indulgent by talking about you front and centre. Don’t fall into the trap of being fashionable. Fashions change: people still want their problem resolved.

Don’t stop the stories

They are essential to engage and deepen the customer experience and turn customers into fans. Just make sure you carefully position them so as not to dominate the product or service information. Then you have a chance they will become fans. Remember – the key moment of truth isn’t when they buy something, it’s when they experience the product or service. That’s when your great product and your interesting story come together – in that order.


Remember to show how much you care by thinking about your reader and their needs. #AllAboutYou.