Why storytelling builds connections with your customers

Keiss Castle, Caithness

If you’ve read my last blog post, you’ll know why storytelling helps you stand out from the crowd.

This week we’ll concentrate on why storytelling builds a connection with your customers.

magic comes from storytelling

Whether you’re a service-based industry or a seller of products, you’re going to want repeat customers.

Creating a connection ensures that once you have the custom you’re more likely to keep it.

An example of how connections can be built

Connections through storytelling can be built, earned and organically grown.

For example (yes, it’s been a hellishly long week, so I’m going to use a real-life, right now, example):

I’m sitting, writing this on my HP laptop, wearing a Redbubble T-shirt and drinking a rather fine Cardhu and I’ve just been looking at a Kickstarter campaign that came to fruition a couple of days ago.

question mark in a light bulb


The product

I have no connection whatsoever with HP and have had no need for customer service from them. I bought a swanky 4K laptop thinking it would be great for using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, along with a few other things (hellooooo Netflix). To be honest it’s ok, but a bit meh for the price I paid. There’s no story, just cold, hard cash and a product. Will I buy from them again? Perhaps, but I’ll do my homework first and will probably go with where I can get the best deal for my requirements.

computer laptop blank screen NaNoWriMo


The service

Now, my fabulous Redbubble T-shirt. I have a connection with them, and I’ll be completely honest here, the design I’m wearing is one of my own. I’ve been connected with them for around ten years. Their customer service is excellent (for both selling and buying) and they’re quite a quirky company. Their offerings are excellent quality and they’re on my wavelength. The connection with them is not a personal one, but their ethos is spot on … it’s a company that builds a community of artists and helps artists reach customers – their story is their artists. I’ll definitely buy from them again (I’ve already bought a fair number of their offerings and haven’t been let down once).

red bubble


The drink

That rather fine Cardhu? I was introduced to it by my father-in-law, who happened to be a warehouse manager for Diageo. When I was 18, and drinking rubbish, he introduced me to good whisky. So the connection with Cardhu is a roundabout one (I don’t just drink Cardhu, my favourite whiskies are numerous depending on what type I fancy, but it’s always a single malt, straight-up without water). However, Cardhu is an easy-drinking malt, was founded by a smuggler (now there’s a story!), and has a lovely bottle (yes, I’m a sucker for nice packaging). My connection is a family one and one of taste. I’ll be buying more. But the only personal connection is through family and a sense of nostalgia.

whisky being poured into a glass

The campaign

Finally that Kickstarter campaign. It was for Prickly Thistle and their ‘Build the Mill’ project. While I have no personal connection to Clare Campbell and the rebel makers, I feel like there’s a connection. I haven’t told my husband, he’s a Donaldson linked to the McDonalds of Sleat (if you don’t know the story, look it up). Clare and the team are bringing textiles and tartan back to the mainland Highlands. And their story is one that fuels their campaign: it’s one of passion, craftsmanship and the wild Highlands. Add to that I live ‘up the road’ (two hour’s drive away, but in the Highlands, honestly, that’s nothing) so for me the connection is real.

Keiss Castle, Caithness


Has storytelling helped?

So, my connection with HP is virtually non-existent, there’s no story and only experience: I have no brand loyalty.

With Redbubble the connection has been built over about ten years through being part of their story: I love their brand and feel part of it.

The Cardhu connection has been earned through knowledge, storytelling through family and a consistent quality: the brand loyalty is one of nostalgia.

And the Prickly Thistle connection is in its infancy and is being organically grown through following their story and becoming part of it at the beginning: I’m looking forward to seeing how the brand evolves and already feel part of it.

These connections are all helped through storytelling.

idea cartoon


How about you?

Stop right now and look at either what you’re wearing, using or eating.

Is there a connection? Do you feel an affinity with any company? What formed that connection?

We all want to find our tribe. Telling your story can build an affinity with your customers – build your tribe.

I’ll bet you feel more loyal to brands and businesses that you connect with and know their story. And customers will feel the same about your business.

So why does storytelling build a connection with your customers?

Stories are hardwired into human culture.

Oral traditions were passed down generation by generation. People would learn what was good and bad, right and wrong, where to find the best crops and when to go hunting.

Shared human experience is how we learn.

Arthur Rackham fairytale

Look at Aesop’s fables or the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. These have been passed down by generations, and we remember them.

If you can create a connection with your customers they will be your champions and will come back again and again. And they will spread the word. Their friends will tell their friends, who will tell their friends and their friends.

students talking

It can be stories about you, your business origins, how you run your business, why you run your business, who helps run your business, how customers see your business, how you’ve helped your customers. It’s endless. If you’re a good storyteller you can build that connection.

By creating your tribe you will necessarily leave out members of other tribes, but that doesn’t matter. Not everyone is the same or wants the same thing. You are building connections with your ideal customers. Your story becomes something they believe in or have empathy with, or even just accept.

How to build connections through stories

Connections are built by:

  • Reaching the hearts of your clients. Emotion is the way to go; make them feel that you’re right for them. Let them realise that your goals and beliefs are in sync, and you’re there to help them.
  • Reaching the minds of your clients. If you can get them to see themselves in situations where you can help them, the connection will evolve. Show that you can help and that they will benefit from it. Make your services the natural, logical choice.
  • Keeping your clients engaged. Just like any good story, a business’s brand story can make your clients want to read on, learn more and stay connected.
  • Building trust between you and your client. By showing your humanity, the crucial element of trust can be built. People like to deal with people, not faceless corporations. Your story and the way you work with it can help customers get to know the real you, and that builds trust (unless, of course, you’re a horrible, untrustworthy pile of human … but most people are wise enough to see the real you).

happy woman

Storytelling is the oldest form of information exchange

I hope you can see now why storytelling can help your business and create connections with your customers.

From morality tales, fairy tales, bedtime stories and stories around the campfire, we humans have grown up with the story as a means of information exchange.

You can use this hard-wired collective memory to help your business grow and flourish. Not through made-up tales, but through honest, interesting storytelling. Let people into your world and if you do it properly, and the time is right, you can convert stories into brand loyalty and into repeat sales.

Which brands do you know that use storytelling well? Let me know in the comments and get the stories flowing.

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