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What We Talk About

We all love a good story – but exactly how do we incorporate that into our marketing? What kind of story formats can we follow? How can we know what will resonate with our audience?

Dennis Consorte is a Content Strategist who has used storytelling throughout his varied career – and he’s going to break down how it works to grow your business.

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Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:03
We love stories. We love hearing stories. We love telling stories. And our customers love stories, too, which is why storytelling is such a hot thing in marketing. But you have to do it, right. And sometimes that can be really tough. So when Jennie and I met content strategist, Dennis consort J. We wanted to pick his brain about this on the podcast, because this is kind of what he does. So Dennis, thanks for being here with us.

Dennis Consorte 0:36
Allison Janney, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here and appreciate talking with your audience.

Alyson Lex 0:46
I am super excited to hear your take on storytelling because your experience is so varied to the point where we had to make sure we introduced you with the right hat for the content that we were putting out. So can you give us a little bit about your varied experience to set the stage,

Dennis Consorte 1:07
I have a number of different clients. And I'm going to give you a really condensed version of my story. I went through a burnout a few years ago. And a big part of that was I just didn't feel good about the work that I was doing. And what I realized is I wanted certain types of clients. Ultimately, I wanted clients where I felt that if I would help them, they would actually help people around them. And that ultimately falls into two categories. Most of my clients are either in the health and wellness space, or they're in the b2b space where they're helping other small businesses. That's where I thrive. So when it comes to storytelling, I get to tell stories in all of these different contexts for a variety of clients, who help people in different ways. And that's really what I do.

Jennie Wright 1:58
I love storytelling. I'm the worst storyteller ever. So I'm the person that starts a story goes to the middle then goes, Oh, wait, wait, wait, I got something to tell you about before. And then I go back. And I leave people really, really confused. So although I love them, I'm bad at them. So what makes a good story? What helps us create the kind of story that people would want to listen to in our content?

Dennis Consorte 2:22
That's a really good question. I think it depends on the context, and what you're trying to achieve with the story that you tell. One really good place to start. And I'm sure you've heard this before, and I'm sure I'm sure you've used it before, is the hero's journey. So if you remember back to high school literature class, or what have you, you would have an arc to your story. And there's a climax in the middle where things get really exciting. And then you sort of resolve stuff towards the end, the hero's journey takes that a bit further and, and takes the character on a journey through their life where they start out. And they they recognize that there's some sort of problem in the world or in their life. And then they go through this journey to solve it. And then they face these major obstacles that they have to get through. They resolve it, they learn new stuff, and then they're transformed. So when you think about storytelling for your business, or for your clients, a good place to start is with the hero's journey. Think about how you can map that out onto your own life. So if I use myself as an example, with the hero's journey, one of the things that I touched on was my burnout, right? That was sort of the Abyss in my hero's journey. And how did I overcome that, I discovered that the clients I really wanted to work with were clients that help other people, because that makes me feel good when I do good things for them. And that was my own personal transformation. And I take that model, and I apply it to many of my other clients.

Jennie Wright 3:53
I love the hero's journey, Alison and I are both students of English Lit. So we both have that background. So we're like, as soon as you said that, we're like, oh, he's going to talk about story arc.

Alyson Lex 4:06
Well, and you know, I want to talk about that a little bit just because the hero's journey seems to be the go to place for everyone. And is it is it kind of overdone I mean, I know movies and TV and books and all that but in business in marketing is that kind of long drawn out. This is all my drama story thing over done.

Dennis Consorte 4:33
100%. So I think that you have to approach it like everything else in moderation. There are, let's say you consume alcohol. You might have a glass of wine here and there and that's perfectly fine. But if you're drinking 10 glasses of wine a day, that might be a problem. The same thing applies to using any tool for marketing and the hero's journey is one of those tools. What I would say is it's a great place for people to start, so that they under and how storytelling is done. And then from there, you'll find your own brand of storytelling, you'll find your own arc that maps out to the stories that you tell. And as long as you keep in mind the different pieces of a story and figure out how to apply those components to whatever story you're telling, you're in a good place. So every story has a story. Every story has characters, every story has some kind of arc to it. And if you think about, okay, who are the characters in my story? And what is my arc? And who are the other characters? And what am I trying to show people, you do those things? And you're going to be all right.

Jennie Wright 5:45
What other types of stories can we use other than the hero's journey once we've sort of worked on that one? Where their story archetypes can we employ in our content that are going to help with people understanding us or growing our businesses or scale?

Dennis Consorte 6:00
It's a really good question. I haven't really thought about the different names lately. What I would say is that some of them will work for different things, there's one that comes to mind, and I don't remember all of the exact pieces of it. But there's one that's related to the way that Seinfeld tells a story. So for example, let's say you're creating an an email marketing journey, each of your emails that you send out may follow this, this comedic trope, where the goal isn't necessarily to create drama, but it's to make the person feel good. And one way to make people feel good is through comedy. So I guess the takeaway there is really just think about the feeling that you want people to have when they come away from your story. If you want people to feel empowered, the hero's journey is probably a really good one. If you want people just to be happy, or whatever other feeling, then pick that type of story and tell that.

Alyson Lex 7:02
You mentioned emails, and I am a big fan of using stories in emails. But what does that do to the results that we're going to get from those emails? Or wherever we're using stories?

Dennis Consorte 7:19
It's a good question. I think that when it comes to email, you want people to do certain things. You want them to open the message, you want them to read it, you want them to perform some sort of action at the end. And sometimes you don't need all of those things to happen in one specific message. Sometimes you're building a story over the course of several messages so that the outcome at the end is the one that you want. So what I would say is that, when you tell a story in email, think about what is the action you want right now. And what is the long term goal of that sequence that you're building, if that's how you're marketing to people. And then along the way, you can think of it as micro steps. So for example, let's say you want somebody to buy your ebook on creating a digital marketing funnel, you might start building rapport in the emails that you're sending, where you're not necessarily trying to get people to buy stuff, you're just trying to get them to trust you to know who you are to to like you as a person. And if you can achieve that through email you're winning. So in a journey like that, you might start out just giving people some free information, tell them some stuff that they can imply immediately. And they get automatic results from that. And now you're building trust. And now they say, you know, this person kind of knows what they're talking about. And then maybe down the line, you're giving them other stuff, maybe you get them to perform certain actions. And one of those actions may be okay, click the button, fill out a form and get a new piece of content or a new thing that has value. And even though you may already have this person's information, you're doing a couple of things. When you recapture information from the same people. First, you're segmenting them, you're understanding what a person's interests are. So that when they open a particular email on a certain, let's say, subset of the broader topic you're discussing, now you know that they're in this bucket, they have an interest in that thing. And in addition to that, you're creating a behavior. This is Psychology 101. So every time somebody presses a button and fills out a form with you, you're you're creating that behavior in the person so that they do more of that. And then let's say down the line you might have, I hate using jargon. I actually go out of my way to not use jargon in the way that I speak. A piece of jewelry argument that people use is trip wire. And all that means is you want to give people something that doesn't cost a whole lot, but it creates the behavior of pulling out their credit card and making a payment. So you might have a $1 item that somebody buys. And it's a big step from downloading something for free to actually paying for something. So instead of asking for money upfront, where you're like, give me $50, give me $100, give me $1,000 a month, instead of doing that, you're saying what is the smallest thing that I can get somebody to pull out their credit card for and make that purchase, so that now you've got that behavior that you want to instill?

Jennie Wright 10:46
That was a lot, which is great. And I love the email side of things. So you know, you were talking earlier about the style of emails and one of them is there's two names that people go by. So it's the Seinfeld series of the soap opera series, right? This the same kind of thing. And it's the other ones that I really like are the sort of like the, the the quest, you know, that you're creating that journey. And it's a little bit different than the hero's journey where we have that huge arc, but I really like them. And there's a whole bunch of other ones out there that we that we think about when we're creating this content. My My question is, how do we get better at the storytelling? Online? Again, I am a I just suck at storytelling. So how do I get better?

Dennis Consorte 11:31
I don't think so I think everybody is an amazing storyteller, you just have to figure out which stories you want to tell. I'm sure you've got amazing stories inside of you. And probably a good place to start is to just build the behavior of telling a story. Don't worry about telling a story as a marketer worry about telling a story. If you were to go to a bar, or sit at dinner with somebody or something like that, you want to be entertaining, you want to have a story to tell. So think about what that story might be and build it. And then as you build the behavior, as you build the skills of creating a story, then you can apply it to different contexts. When it comes to marketing. The other thing I would say is that, don't just think about one medium for storytelling, think about how you can mix different types of stories together. So if you're building an overarching story for your business, it may have a lot of blog posts that that tell stuff along that arc. You may also create social media posts. And when you're creating those posts, you're being very intentional about it. You're not just putting stuff up on social and hoping you get clicks, likes and shares. You're putting stuff out there that tells your story. And you may even time it in a way that when you release blog posts on certain topics, you're also releasing videos on social media, and those kinds of things so that everything just works together.

Alyson Lex 13:01
So you mentioned earlier, the segmentation, which we love data, we love understanding the data of what is resonating and working. But how can we even get started with kind of figuring out what's going to resonate with our audience. The example that Jenny and I share is something that surprised both of us, she posted on Facebook about her wooden spoon collection in her kitchen. And it has now taken a life of its own. This was years ago. And her people loved it. She talked about the fact that you know, she has these phones and she oils, I mean, she takes care of them and all that. That surprised us. We never would have picked that as content for her audience. But it resonated. So how can we do more of that but on purpose?

Jennie Wright 13:45
Because I was totally on X that was a total accident. Just blew up?

Dennis Consorte 13:51
Yeah. That's, that's amazing. It it's funny, my memories of wooden spoons being a Gen X are probably a little bit different than younger. Oh, did

Alyson Lex 14:01
you have the millennial to Yeah, if it had holes or slats? Ouch.

Jennie Wright 14:08
My mom's face on hers.

Dennis Consorte 14:10
Oh, my Oh, yeah. Um, what I would say is that you want to think about who your audience is. And a good exercise to go through is to actually create those different personas or whatever you want to call them. All it means is, let's say, you kind of know that your audience is and I'm just making up numbers, right? Let's say there are 30 Something women who enjoy cooking. And so you might say, All right, what are some things that people who enjoy cooking would actually be passionate about? You know, it's funny. I was sharing a story yesterday about my weekend. It was the weekend before this was recorded. And I'm, I'm older and so an exciting weekend. For us is going to the supermarket. My wife loves supermarket.

Jennie Wright 15:03
What are you talking about being older? I think we're probably not that far off from each other. You

Alyson Lex 15:07
know what? Supermarket being a destination is not age limiting. I'm just gonna put that one out there. I've already just just that. Yeah, yeah. All right. So

Jennie Wright 15:16
tell us more while

Dennis Consorte 15:18
learning about supermarkets. And what I was saying to this client was that my weekend consisted of going to a new supermarket, there was a new one that opened up nearby, we went to that my wife really enjoyed going there. And what I learned was that this resonates with other people, I just learned that now this resonated with both of you. And this was something I didn't know because I'm, I go to the supermarket, I'm like playing on my phone, I try to be engaged as much as I can. But it's difficult, I just don't get excited by broccoli. The point is, if you really understand who your audience is, then you can tell the stories that will resonate with them. And a big part of that is creating those personas. So you may have a story that you're telling about an individual in your audience where she may be, let's say a 35 year old married woman who enjoys cooking, and canoeing? I don't know, something like that. So then you would say, Okay, what resonates with a person like this? What would? What would be some of the things that they are buying? What are some of the things they aspire to? What are other areas of their lives? Where are they in their life's journey? Are they do they have kids? Do they want more kids? Do they want something else in their life. And if you figure out some of these things about these imaginary characters that you're creating for your story, then you can build content that that these imaginary people will like, and if you did a good job of picking out a few of these characters, who are actually representative of parts of your audience, then your content will resonate with people.

Alyson Lex 17:03
I do that when I write sales copy. So I think of somebody in my life that reflects the attitude or the situation or as closely as possible, the audience that I'm writing to when I'm trying to sell, because, you know, it's much easier if I can envision my H vac repairman, Mike, when I'm writing to small service business owners, for example. It's easier for me to write directly to him. So I really liked that little, that idea of how can you anchor that persona, to somebody that you can visualize really, really well, I think that's a cool tip.

Dennis Consorte 17:47
Yeah, 100%. And I would also say, talk to people. So you should be engaging your audience, you should be reading the comments that they put on your social posts, you should be reading the positive and negative reviews that people leave about your company. And you should be getting on the phone and calling people and even showing up face to face, you do those things. And you'll really get a better sense of the stories that will resonate with people. There's one more thing, whenever you talk to somebody, they are speaking through a filter, sometimes people don't want to offend you, they don't want to hurt your feelings, and they're not going to tell you everything you need to hear are the opposite of that they have, they're just very negative in the way that they speak. A good thing to do, in addition, is to talk to people who talk to people. And by that I mean, if if Jenny is speaking with Jerry, I don't even know if these names are popular anymore. Jenny speaking with Jerry, she's going to tell Jerry a different story about what she thinks about me or my company, then if she were speaking with me directly. So if you can put people in place who can have those conversations, and relay real raw information to you, then you can tell a much better story.

Alyson Lex 19:09
I really I agree and appreciate that. Getting raw, unfiltered feedback. And information is the most essential thing when it comes to any data that you're using. But especially as we're learning with stories. So Dennis, thank you so much for sharing your insight with us today. Where can our audience learn more about you hear more of your stories and connect?

Dennis Consorte 19:37
I'm all over the internet. The best place to start for a direct connection would be LinkedIn. Just look up Dennis, Consort day on LinkedIn. You'll find me there connect with me. As long as you don't send me a message that goes something like I have developers overseas for $20 an hour. If you don't start your message with that I'll probably connect with you. You can also find me Dennis concert data comm and a variety of other places.

Jennie Wright 20:03
We'll put all of those on the show notes. But I'm the same way with LinkedIn. By the way, if you start with that, also Facebook DMS, if you invite me to your Facebook group or tell me you have a great product that's going to help me look younger, we're not going to talk. So. But I want you to check out everything that Dennis has shared on system to thrive.com this is going to be episode 153. So you can go to system to thrive.com forward slash 153. You'll find everything about Dennis there so you can connect with them. And make sure you do check them out. This has been a really interesting conversation, I've really enjoyed sort of diving into the storytelling aspect, and how we can make that our own and not feel so I guess intimidated by the opportunity of using that style to build businesses. So thanks so much for sharing that really appreciate it.

Dennis Consorte 20:48
Sounds great to me. And if I could put one more plug, if you want small business advice, go to snackable solutions. Just look it up on YouTube. I've got all of these bite sized tips for small business owners.

Jennie Wright 20:59
Yes, you do actually have check that out. You've got some good ones on there. So definitely we'll have that in the show notes. Yeah, put that in the show notes for sure. All right. Thanks so much for listening. Everybody really appreciate it. We're gonna wrap this episode up. We'll be back with a new episode soon and you don't want to miss it. So make sure that you're following us or liking us on whatever platform you're using to connect with this podcast and we will see you all soon. Take care

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