Once upon a time, in the summer of 2014, December 8th to be precise; I arrived in the quietest city I had ever been, Auckland. That will probably make no sense to you if you compare Auckland to the rest of New Zealand. But, you see, I hadn’t been to the rest of New Zealand at that point. It was also my first time outside Africa.
Compared to the boisterous Lagos which was my home alongside 22 million other people, Auckland was mute. Cars don’t even honk here! So you can imagine how astonished I was when Christopher Columbus in me “discovered” the rest of New Zealand.
I went back to Nigeria for a couple of months and returned in August 2015. This time, I was in Dunedin and had my first non-tv experience with snow. It was freezing, and I needed a job.
Back home, I had worked for about eight years in the digital marketing agency I founded while still at the university. Not only was I equipped with skills like SEO, conversion rate optimisation, social media marketing, and website design; I was also experienced with managing teams, projects and resources, and many other (soft) skills that come with entrepreneurship.
Confident that I was well-equipped to be an asset to any organisation that required my skill set and experience, I created my first CV ever, and I applied for multiple jobs. Several job interviews quickly lined up for me but I got zero job offers. It was hard. It was deflating. I wasn’t used to getting so many no’s. It felt like the universe had conspired against me and instructed all employers to tell me “You don’t have sufficient New Zealand experience.” Whatever that meant, I hated hearing it.
But I persisted because the voices in my head kept nagging me not to give up. Something was about to change for me.
Interview after interview, my storytelling skill got better. I noticed that interviewers got more genuinely interested in my background. They asked me more unscripted and human questions. It felt less like an interrogation and more like a conversation.
I started looking forward to the “tell us about yourself” part of the routine. Because at that moment, I felt empowered and in control. It’s my story; I can’t get that wrong. I was there when it happened, so I provided context and clarity. They didn’t need to ask. I owned it, and I felt understood. I had discovered the power of storytelling.
“Inside each of us is a natural-born storyteller, waiting to be released.” Robin Moore.
The outcome was different. I got two job offers two days apart! The one I chose turned out to be the wrong one for me, but that’s another story for another time. The feeling was great, and the lesson stayed with me. People connect with authentic stories. It is programmed into the human plan. Who you really are shine through in the stories you tell, or don’t tell. Same is true for businesses.
Why should a customer buy from you? The answer lies in the quality of the stories you tell. Stories create trust, and people buy from people they trust. Ultimately, customers buy sentiments, not products. When you tell authentic stories, you give people the opportunity to connect with the essence of your product or service; a valid reason to buy from you instead of your competitors.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell” – Seth Godin