Do you remember when you first learned the power of storytelling? I can still remember the excitement in preschool, as we would grab our little mats and sit on the floor to hear Miss Maria spin her storytelling magic. Leaning forward on our little elbows we were pulled into the story and when she was finished we got milk and graham crackers (this is probably why I really loved story time). Everyone loves a great story. A story can transport us to faraway places, or a story can help us find the common ground we share with someone, allowing us to like them or trust them a little more.
I’ve spent the past four days in Sonoma County with a group of friends, touring the wine country. We visited three vineyards and tasting rooms per day, each offering a very different experience. At the end of each day, our group of 7 would discuss our favorite wines, our favorite locations, and which wines we purchased. We talked about what made each our favorite and we found there was a definite connection between the experience that was created during the tasting and the amount of wine purchased. It came down to the power of storytelling. The stories that were shared pulled us in, causing us to feel connected to the family or person that started the winery. The stories brought a familiar feeling and likeability factor.
Here are a few examples:
Storytelling at Christopher Creek
Liam's storytelling style was like that of an old friend. Comfortable. Easy to listen to. Like a soft flannel shirt (which he happened to have on) He told us the stories of the Italian families that he grew up with and eventually partnered with at Christopher Creek. We learned about how they snuck wine out to families during the prohibition by having their 12-year-old son drive the wine into town because no one would suspect a 12-year-old of smuggling wine to others. Liam told us about his 8th-grade girlfriend (of two weeks) that he now gets grapes from in the valley. He was funny and drew us into his stories of wine making and even his dream of owning an Irish Pub someday.
Storytelling at Toad Hallow
At Toad Hollow, we heard a different type of storytelling. This was not so much the actual stories of the families who started Toad Hollow, but of Dr. and Mrs. Toad and their friend Mr. Badger who decided to make great wine together. We did learn that Robin Williams was the founder’s half-brother, and Ricardo, the storyteller in the wine-tasting room, told us the story of two French toads through wonderfully illustrated paintings that are illustrated on each label. That was when we got a little biology lesson, learning the meaning of AMPLEXUS, the name of one of their sparkling wines.
Storytelling at Ferrari-Carano
Jessica was one of our favorites. She told us stories of the owners at Ferrari-Carano (who also happen to own hotels in Vegas and Reno and Vegas, she taught us about each of the wines and how the drought affected each of them, and she had us laughing and having a great time.
A couple places we visited had lovely gardens, wonderful wine tasting rooms, and some even had good wine, but what was missing was great storytelling. No story time…no drawing us in to feel a kinship. These folks missed a huge opportunity. We didn’t learn about the family that ran the vineyard or what made them unique from the hundreds of others in the valley. The folks at these stops didn’t educate us on the different wines or entertain us with even a single story, and at De La Montanya Winery, the young lady didn’t even ask for a sale. I left craving graham crackers!
So how can you share more of your stories with your audience? Do you have photos of the “early days” or can you perhaps interview one of your early clients or a team member who has been with you since the beginning? Find ways to share stories that help educate your clients or customers, and don’t underestimate the power of those stories in your marketing. They cause people to lean in wanting to know more about you. They help your potential customers find that common ground that trust and likeability are built on.
I'd love to hear your STORY! Tell us how you use stories in your marketing or if you have a great example of a brand that uses storytelling brilliantly in their marketing…do share. We'll have graham crackers and milk after!
Need some help developing your stories? Download the “What’s Your Story” worksheet to work on crafting your own marketing stories.