Customer Experience
#30 Carla Johnson – Storytelling: How to Stand Apart From the Competition
June 29, 2021
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Carla Johson has helped clients in diverse fields from volunteer groups to Fortune 500 companies leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action through amazing experiences. Named one of the top ten influencers in content marketing, Carla travels the world teaching people how to create idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game changing innovation. In their video interview, Modern Ontrapeneur [sic] asks Carla about how small businesses can use the strategies she teaches Fortune 500 companies. Let’s take a quick look for insight on how to use storytelling marketing to stand apart from the competition. 


Storytelling – The Biggest Marketing Challenge For Businesses

Asked what the biggest problem marketers face, Carla is quick to answer. In her view, there are two major problems. The most important thing that businesses often fail to do is come up with a story that is compelling and unique and then consistently tell that story. For a huge and impersonal business that is the product of multinational mergers, finding a compelling story can be quite the challenge. For small businesses this can be a bit easier.

Many small businesses find a successful story arises naturally. Owners know why they started their businesses. They have a passion for what they do. That can often be the big story. At first the owner was content, but then the owner saw a problem and was deeply troubled by how this problem impacts other people. They realized there was a solution and a friend or mentor encouraged them, providing the call to action of the hero’s journey and they set out to implement their solution. More adventures ensue on the road to perfecting the first product.

Your storytelling should be built around the goal of creating an emotional response. Figure out what emotional response you want to get first, and then develop your story accordingly. 


Don’t Stop Telling The Story

Coming up with the story is the first problem. Sticking to it is the second. Marketers get bored of telling the same story all the time. It is hard to keep a team anchored. Many businesses make the mistake of “launch and leave” with their storytelling. Your marketing team needs to keep in mind, they are focused on what they are producing all day, but other people only experience it briefly and it occupies very little space in their thoughts. Your market condition and customer needs may change to some degree, and it is fine to adjust your story or add to it to accommodate change. But you should always try to anchor everything with that one big core story. 


Get Everyone On Board With The Story

Carla says a lot of businesses overlook a great opportunity. They come up with a story and immediately focus on trying to tell it to customers with paid ads and other interruptive strategies. They start focusing outward before their inner work is complete. You can get better results when you get your whole team on board with the story first. This will help you recognize if it is genuine and true to your brand. Giving employees a story that delivers a sense of purpose can inspire morale and create enthusiasm. And if your employees are excited enough, they will be telling the story to potential customers, or to people who may repeat it to potential customers. If the story is really powerful, social media and personal connections can carry it a long way. 


Give It A Try

Carla says one of the things she does that helps businesses most is give them courage. “Think bigger than you have ever imagined, ” she advises. 

These guru insights are interesting to read, but they won’t do you any good unless you put them to use. Are you ready to think big? How can you get your team rallied around telling a powerful story that will create an emotional bond with your customers?