Why Every Marketer Needs to Master Story Telling

Let me ask you a question.

Why do people put lime in a bottle of Corona beer?


If you don’t know, there are two popular stories with this.


1) Rust: Mexican beer bottle caps would get rusty and the lime would wipe it away or clean the lip of the bottle.

2) Flies: Rimming the lip of the bottle with a lime would keep flies away because they hate the acidic taste.

3) Disinfect: Mexico (during the time Corona was invented) was generally grimey and since lime was cheap, they used it as disinfectant.

4) Gimmick: It’s a visual gimmick to get tourists to buy more.


Whatever the reason, Corona tasted better with lime, so voila! Lime is now served Corona.

Well, they’re all wrong.

In fact, I’ve even heard that lime is actually used to prevent food spoilage… but when was the last time you saw spoiled beer?

So what’s the truth? Who knows? We probably will never find out.

If I had to guess? It’s just a COOL thing to do.. like knocking on wood.. or doing the punch buggy.

Unexplained social phenomenon.


Power Marketing Tool – Stories

Regardless of the truth, STORIES sell (beer).

Stories are interesting… we can relate to them but more importantly, people are engaged with story tellers.

And as marketers, that’s what we’re seeking.. engagement with our perspective users, buyers, customers, mates, friends, and family.

But why does story telling work?



1) Trust through Journey

When I tell you a story, you’re following me on this virtual journey.. virtual conflicts … virtual character development.. and of course virtual “climax” or “happy ending” (oh yes pun intended).

When you go on a road trip with someone who has no intent other than to share that ride with you, you most likely develop a bond with that person.

Why? (Virtual) Journey creates a (virtual) shared social experience. (And that’s why I wrote about my 3 month trip to Thailand, especially about my meditation experience there.).

It doesn’t matter what the journey is.. a cross country drive across the corn fields of Mid West singing Miss American Pie, a plane ride to eastern Europe while drinking champagne and eating caviar, a train ride through the Swiss alps with the members of a local circus during a quiet snowstorm..

When you share the experience of reaching a destination with that person, you are making it as if he/she is seeing with your eyes.. hearing your sounds.. and feeling your thoughts.

Result? Trust and immediately relevance to that person.

Of course, with online marketing, you can’t physically take everyone on these insanely long trips but you can give them short BURSTS of journeys through your stories.

(But you have to be specific… if i said “cross country, plane ride, or train ride”.. it doesn’t tell a story because it’s too generic. Remember, you can’t “paint” a great story if your trees are missing leaves, your rivers have no small critters, and your mountains all look the same.)




2) Leveraged brain wave activity

On the average, it takes a brain minimum of 6-7 STRONG impressions for a message to take place.

Now, of course, certain message has more impression affinity than others.

For example.. porn &games – everyone understands them, most people like them, so there’s no need to “repeat” messages as often say if you were to sell, whole term life insurance. Insurance is boring and no one wants to think about preparing to die.

Of course, what storytelling (of a story that people can relate to) does is TAP into the person’e existing set brainwave patterns.

According to Uri Hasson, a professor of psychology from Princeton…

“When the woman spoke English, the volunteers understood her story, and their brains synchronized. When she had activity in her insula, an emotional brain region, the listeners did too. When her frontal cortex lit up, so did theirs. By simply telling a story, the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains.”

Yes, just by tapping into the emotions of the past, the storyteller is able to plant thoughts inside the head of the audience by telling a story that induces similar sensation in the listener’s head.

Ever watch the movie Inception and wonder if that’d be a great marketing tool?

Yeap, you have it. You don’t have to rely on cheap marketing tricks.



3) “Real” Communication

Stories are how we REALLY communicate.

IN fact, according to scientific american,  “personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.” (src)

Think about it.

When was the last time you went to a bar or a social event, and people talked like a DVD player instruction manual?

Nobody. In fact, the way you blog.. the way you talk.. the way you do copywriting .. should ALWAYS be conversational (as if you’re talking to ONE person) and real.

Ever been to a seminar where the speaker talks like a robot and you wonder if you wonder why the guy was even born in the first place?


When people have no emotions towards your product or service, they will NOT buy.

Hell, in fact, even hatred is better than boredom.

You don’t need to be the most entertaining marketer on the planet, but you DO have to make sure you’re interesting to listen to.


And what better way than with a story EVERYONE can relate to

The more REAL communication you give with a marketing message, the less of a buyer’s objection your prospect will give you.



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Ex-code monkey turned entrepreneur, marketer, blogger, and speaker. TaeWoo writes about online marketing and growth hacking. You can read more about him here.

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