The best marketing tells a story. Stories are one of the most powerful and engaging tools that exist. Think about it: you may read a book for information or watch a movie for the special effects, but what really captures people’s attention and engages them is a story. You want to hear about the struggles and conflicts the protagonist overcomes. Storytelling has been an art form and a tool almost since the dawn of time. It teaches lessons and explores the human condition. In marketing, it’s a way for an impersonal brand (or practice) to connect on a personal level with the clients you are trying to reach.

My Tree Guy Thought About Divorcing Me

It’s true—my tree guy told me he was considering divorcing me. I wrote in detail about the encounter on my blog, but here’s the short version:

The sugar maples in my front yard desperately needed to be trimmed. They were overgrown and should have been cut back a long time ago. So I called a neighbor who worked in landscaping and asked if could do that. He said, “Sure,” and eventually got the job done.

A little while later my tree guy came to spray the trees. The landscapers had warned me about “scale” they had noticed on our cherry trees, so I went outside to tell my tree guy. While I was talking to him, he kept looking at me like I had two heads. Finally, he commented, “I see you had your trees trimmed.”

I said, “Yes,” because obviously that’s how I’d found out about the scale.

That’s when he cocked back his head and said, “I’m trying to decide if I’m going to divorce you.” He explained that he trimmed trees—and I realized he was upset I’d gone to someone else for the job. I promised I’d call him next time and that was that, but I immediately knew his marketing was faulty.

The Tree Guy Story and Marketing

The story of the tree guy has become one of the best illustrations about the importance of marketing. On the surface, it’s just a funny story about a tree guy. However, it goes much deeper than that—it clearly demonstrates an important marketing principle. This tree guy didn’t have a monthly newsletter or any kind of regular contact to remind me about his various services, which included tree trimming. I’d long ago forgotten he did anything of the kind, if I’d ever known it. I’d moved right along to finding someone else to fix my problem. It beautifully illustrates so much of what we know to be true and teach to our members at Top Practices.

But more than that, it engages people in an interesting way. Everyone wants to know what happens next, and it gives a face to the things I’ve been saying all along. You can shout facts at a person until you’re blue in the face without them ever understanding, much less caring. A story not only provides a concrete illustration, it also captures your attention and engages you on another level.

Integrating Stories into Your Marketing

Businesses and podiatry practices can easily integrate this into their own marketing if they understand how. Stories have a protagonist or main character that they follow and focus on. They have conflicts that the protagonist must face. And they have a clear beginning, middle, and end. In marketing, particularly for a podiatric practice, they should also connect back to what you do and how you can help. The simplest stories are often through testimonials—this patient (the protagonist) had this problem (the conflict) and this is how it was resolved (the end to the story). But you don’t have to limit it to that. Stories about issues and people in your community, anecdotes from your staff, funny moments in your family, and more can all be used to engage with people.

Don’t Just Tell It Once!

Never tell a great story just once. You don’t always have to think of a new story for every blog or newsletter article. You can re-tell an old one, reworking it so it fits into your next blog, your newest newsletter, a social media post, or even a video or infographic. This not only gives you more bang for your buck, but it allows you to reach new people in a variety of mediums who might have ignored your original blog post.

Learning to tell stories is an art. That’s why we appreciate great movies and books—we know how hard it is to actually tell a story well. The same is true of your marketing. It does take practice to integrate storytelling into your marketing strategies. The effort is worth it in the end, however. Not only do you connect with your patients on a deeper level, you’re still able to communicate vital information to them.

Our Mastermind Groups discuss topics like this and more every month. More than that, we have tools and teams to help you get started to transform your marketing and actually using storytelling for the better today. Contact us through our website for more information. You can also call (717) 725-2679 or e-mail [email protected] to contact us more directly.
Rem Jackson
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Founder and CEO of Top Practices, LLC