We humans are all natural storytellers. It’s hard-wired in us like our ability to talk. And in turn, we generally all love a good story.

It’s important to recognize how powerful storytelling is. Serving more than as simply entertainment, many good stories are instructive, life-enhancing, and life-affirming allegories. Others are designed to inform. Interestingly, it’s been documented that when watching a business presentation, the audience will remember the presenter’s anecdotes and stories far more than they’ll remember statistical information.

Storytelling is so endemic to our makeup it’s little surprise that it also plays a role in business. Imagine you’re car shopping and you see a model you like and immediately draw the attention of a salesperson. The individual may rattle off stats about the car, its mileage, engine size, etc., or she may start to tell you about how she sold one to a family friend who takes it on great pleasure drives across the country without spending very much on gas. Chances are that the story will influence your decision more than the litany of numbers.

With the proliferation of online communications and social media, storytelling is a mushrooming field, called by many who practice it “content marketing.”

Joe Pulizzi, co-founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of a fabulous book called Epic Content Marketing, tells of how in the late 19th century John Deere was sending farmers a custom magazine about the latest in farming techniques. Shortly after that, Betty Crocker began mailing recipes to its customers. The point Pulizzi very eloquently makes, though, is that the story is not about the brand, nor should it be. Instead, it builds brand franchise by relating information of value to the recipient, who happens to be a current or prospective customer. Nothing solidifies brand loyalty better than serving up quality content.

The optical business is rife with stories. How to take care of your eyeglasses. Ten things you should know before getting contact lenses. How the eye exam can benefit your overall health. What your kids need for back-to-school. Now that social media allow everyone to be a publisher there are plenty of places for your stories to appear.

Good quality stories also establish the teller as an authority on the subject. Pulizzi cites the example of a struggling pool installation business whose owner started a blog about swimming pools. He wound up on local talk radio and ultimately attracted more business than he could handle.

So dig into that treasure trove of stories that your practice or store may have secreted away. Your patients will enjoy it, and they’ll appreciate you.

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