In the fall of 1933, while attending a party at her sorority, the vivacious young Lucile Salter was introduced to David Packard. But David wasn’t at the party as a guest; he was washing dishes in the kitchen, one of the many jobs he held to help pay his tuition.
While the odd job washing dishes brought Lucile into his life, his engineering classes introduced him to Bill Hewlett.
Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started their company, Hewlett Packard, and built their first product in a garage in Palo Alto, CA, with a budget of only $538. Living on Lucile’s salary of $90 a month, they spent hours in that garage perfecting their product and following their dream. Today that garage is not only the birthplace of one of the largest computer corporations in the world – it’s also known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.
This is a very short story and describes HP’s humble beginnings. But it also taps into the part of us that loves a story of personal triumph. You’ll find references to HP’s “garage story” on their website. Lucile’s story is equally incredible.
The telling of their story puts a human face on their products. Without it, the website would be just another showing of products with their technical specs.
Storytelling is how we connect with our potential customers. Without your story, you are just another seller of gifts and/or gift baskets. Your products may be beautiful. The photo and description of a gorgeous basket may sell itself.
But if you want to really connect with a customer — to make them like and trust you — your story is one of the best ways to do it.
I frequently get comments about my story which I share on the “About” page of my Creative Gifts website. One recent comment was:
“I must say, I NEVER expected such personal service with an internet purchase! I read up on your story on the About Us tab and I LOVED it! Good for you for loving what you do / doing what you love…wish I were so lucky.” Cheryl
How about you? Are you telling your story?
But storytelling shouldn’t just be used on your About page. Stories help you connect with your website visitors and keep them on your website longer because they are intrigued by them. So where do you find them and how do you use them?
Inspiration from your own life and world
Think about small things that you experienced or even things that you saw and heard. Stories are everywhere. Perhaps you overhead something something sitting behind you in a coffee shop said. Or an experience that made you feel good — or bad. A discussion with a co-worker, neighbor, or even your kids. A thought you had when you looked at a sunset, saw your father for the last time, or walked away from your last job. They don’t have to be big events. A very simple thing can be used to help demonstrate what you are writing about.
Use Stories as examples
Using a story in a blog post can make that post more entertaining and keep the visitor reading. Using them as a example of what you are trying to say in the post is one of the easiest ways to use stories. I used the story that Charles Schultz told at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference in the post A Story From Charles Schultz I’ve Never Forgotten. My own personal experience at starting a gift basket business business was used in another blog post about What I Wish I had Known.
Make Sure Your Story applies to what you are writing.
Stories are always great to read but they are only powerful if they mean something — something that you want people to learn from that story. And the meaning of the story should align with the message in the post or article that you are writing.
For an effective story, you need a character. In the story about Charles Schultz, he was the character while in the article about what I wished I had known when starting my gift basket business, the character is me. But you also need more than just a character. That person needs to have a problem or has to want something. The last thing in a good story is the solution — how that person, either alone or with someone else help, solves that problem or achieves what they are longing for.
Make the story relate to the reader
Use a story that your reader can relate to. If your reader can think “that’s me” or even feel emotional when reading it, you’ve done a good job. Emotions are what keep the reader reading. It is also what makes someone buy if you are using a story in a product description.
Photos and Graphics increase a story’s power.
If you can add a photo, a cartoon, or some other image to the article or blog post, that makes your story more clear. If you are telling a story about someone using a product in your gift basket, add a picture of the person.
Before the virus pandemic, I was producing a 4-page newsletter for the senior population who used the senior center here in Flagstaff. They ate lunch there, participated in activities available throughout the day, and met their need for social participation with other people, which is lacking in the lives of many seniors.
The newsletter included info about various activities and events, tips for better living, simple recipes for one or two, usually a cartoon or similar graphic, etc. But the thing that most of them looked forward to most and eagerly turned to when the newsletter was handed out was the story about one of them. I created those stories by interviewing the person and we all learned things that we usually never learn about a person until we read it in their obituary. I always included photos of them today as well as when they were younger and had more active lives.
These stories are what made the seniors look forward to the next issue. Your stories are what will make your customers and potential customers look forward to what you write next. But best of all, they will learn a bit more about you as a person and be better able to relate to you and your business.