When I was a child, my favorite bedtime story was Dr. Seuss'“Horton Hatches the Egg.” I remember my mother sitting on the edgeof my bed reading about this amazing elephant, whose personal creedwas a very important lesson for me. The memories and emotions thisevokes in me are so powerful that with any reference to that book,character or author and I'm immediately transported back more than50 years to that small bedroom in Brookline, Mass.

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Storytelling is first and foremost about the story. Stories,whether told to impressionable 6-year-olds in their bedrooms orgruff 56-year-olds in their boardrooms, must be truthful,passionate and relatable.

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Truthful to the moment doesn't mean you can't embellish oreliminate something that isn't relevant; it means you must behonest and believable. Show what the topic means to you withpassion and relate it to the listener by making a connection ofsome kind.

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Effective storytelling requires the teller to invest herself inthe narrative; you're a player in the story, you're telling it fromyour personal perspective and you find the “takeaway” from thestory that gives it value.

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Using your own perspective immediately breaks down barriers andbegins to pull your listener in. It plays to the very essence ofrelationships: People like to do business with people, notbusinesses. What better way to relate on that level than to sharesomething personal?

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I shared a personal memory with you, but now imagine you heardme tell the story. The emotion I always feel around that memory ismuch better conveyed in person. This is all pretty obvious and thestrength of a visual or video is so much more effective than just awritten word. Even Dr. Seuss stories all included wonderfulillustrations.

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As insurance agents, you know that “facts tell but storiessell.” The better you become at storytelling, the better you'llbecome at selling. So look for ways to share your stories.

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Storytelling and social media are perfect together. Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, support storytelling, but indifferent ways for different audiences.

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Because Facebook posts often result in threaded discussions,sharing a story on it should engage people to share back their ownstories.

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Twitter posts, on the other hand, are limited to 140 charactersso it would be difficult to convey a good story. But linking thetweet to a video, audio or even your blog post is another way ofsharing.

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Pinterest is another great platform. What better way to share mystory than to create a Pinterest board built around the characterHorton from my favorite story? Or perhaps with an assembly ofvarious images of mothers sharing bedtime stories with their kids,with me sharing my memory of why this is meaningful for me in thecomments section.

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Whatever your technique, whatever your words or the platformsyou use, the common thread through it all has to be to connect withpeople; your stories and theirs. Carrying these stories throughoutyour online presence (website, blog, social media) shapes andenriches your agency brand. It's why case studies are so effective:These specific stories of business challenges, which were overcome,focus on solutions. If you have ever read an all-statistic whitepaper, compare that to hearing a story told by someone who livedthe experience, had a problem and found a solution, you would knowthe difference.

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Director's Cut

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“If you have a good story and can tell a good story, everyonewants to listen to it. It's the one thing that's often missing fromfilms because they tend to be predictable, because they tend to beformulaic,” says Michael Radford, director of such films “IlPostino” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

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The same could be said for insurance sales, especially personallines, as it's usually about price. Good stories make all thedifference in how your agency is perceived.

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