By now, everyone knows they need to be telling stories if they want to get people’s attention in this crazy, overcrowded world of information we live in.

Not only are stories fun, they also work like mental shortcuts that help us cut through all the noise and clutter, because no one can possibly process all of the digital signals that are constantly flying at us…not to mention billboards, and even people dressed up like primates waving giant cardboard bananas in hopes of trying to get us to stop in for a car wash.

 "The grizzly bear was THIS big and ferocious with ten inch claws and razor sharp teeth!  Only thing that saved me was that Winchester rifle I bought here last week!"

“The grizzly bear was THIS big and ferocious with ten inch claws and razor sharp teeth! Only thing that saved me was that Winchester rifle I bought here last week!”

When your stories are told right, your customers imagine themselves as the hero. Talk about mindshare! Can you think of a better way to create an emotional connection with someone than by placing them front and center in the story of your brand?

But that’s where things get tricky…and most people veer off the track. Because while your company is telling one story at a time, it actually has two storytellers…

You, and the customer.

Yeah that’s right, your customer tells themselves a story—a story about what your brand means to them. An internal script, if you will.

And if you want to convert someone to a true raving fan, then that person has to tell themselves the right story. One that’s all about them.

You can help them tell themselves that story, but you can’t tell it for them. This is a subtle art, and it’s one we’ve been working on perfecting for years.

On that note, here are a few ways we’ve found to be super effective in helping your customers (and potential customers) tell themselves a story that’s at least as powerful as the one you’re telling:

1. Use their language

Customers often use very different words to describe their problems and pains than we as marketers do. For example, we may think customers are “overwhelmed,” but the way they see it could sound different, like, “I wish I had more time to get everything done.”

2. Don’t over-sell

You don’t have to tell customers every single detail of how your product or service will make their life better. Leaving something to the imagination lets them participate and become active players in your story, rather than passive onlookers, and motivates them to take the next step in the sales process on their own terms.

3. Understand what they really want

There’s a technique called the “5 Why’s” that helps you get to the heart of your customers’ deepest needs. Want more money? Why. Need more living space? Why. Practicing the “5 Why’s” helps you zero in and drill deeper than most people ever will – establishing the sort of deep, caring connection that creates customers for life.

What stories are your customers telling themselves about your company? If you’re not sure, there’s a great way to find out – just ask them! Then get quiet and prepare yourself to be surprised.