Forget Content. Context Is How to Get People to Remember You

The human mind is a context machine; we think in context.

Context is what allows our minds to make meaningful connections that persist.

If you look at memory champions, the way they remember long strings of numbers is by placing them into a context.

That’s because our brain was originally designed to map out the landmarks around us and contextualize them to help us find our way.

The reason stories have become our primary source of communication throughout time is because stories create context with words and language.

From stories handed down through generations, to fables and myths, from books to films and TV, metaphorically and literally, stories help us find our way through information overload by contextualizing key ideas our brain thinks are important for our survival.

So when it comes to business (and life in general) the way to activate someone’s brain to remember you and engage with you is through a story that places them in the subject’s position and creates a context for them to relate to you, your brand or service.

If they can see themselves in your story, in the same situation as the subject, dealing with the same kind of problems that you helped solve in a way that’s in line with their values they’ll remember you. If that problem is important enough and their pain strong enough they’ll engage with you.

Especially in business, the two crucial elements for an engaging story, are experience and values.

No matter what industry, vertical, or niche telling a story that expresses both your experience and your values is critical to being remembered.

Experience is simply your ability to use the tools of your trade to solve your clients’ problems.

What experiences do you have that qualify you to deliver on your promises? Do you have the background, the history, and knowledge of the industry? Do you understand the tools you promote? Have you done this before? How have you been successful with other clients?

Relaying your experience is critical to informing an audience.

Unfortunately this is where most brands stop.

The strongest brands take it one step further and use every opportunity to also express their values.

Values are simply the things that are important to us at any given time. You might value professionalism, or innovation, you might value family or collaboration. When people make buying or hiring decisions, values are everything. We see with companies like Apple, Tesla or Tom’s Shoes and luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes that when values align, people will actually pay more for similar products or services.

When our values align I know I can trust you to serve me in the way that I want to be served.

So a good story combines these elements and creates context for your experience and values in a way that will be remembered.

A great story is going to paint a picture of what it’s like to work with you. It’s going to include details that only you would know about how a job was actually done. It’s going to include how the results were achieved, how you worked, how you solved problems, how you communicated and what values did you use that allowed you to create results.

Sometimes a brand story is an origin story – how you started and built your business and why. But even a simple story about a past client and what you did for them can express both your experience and your values.

If you’re interested in an incredibly effective brand story check out Blake Mycosky of Tom’s Shoes. Blake credits the success of Tom’s shoes almost entirely on the story of how the company came to exist and more importantly why it came to exist.

Another person to study is Gary Vaynerchuck, who, whether or not you connect with his style, is a modern day master. Gary V telegraphs his experience and values in literally every sentence. If you listen to an interview with him, he always goes back and forth from talking about one of his accomplishments to why he made the decision. He’s gotten so good at this form of communication that it’s become second nature. He doesn’t even have to think about it. This ability to expresses his experience and values from story to story is one of the reasons he’s had so much success.

But storytelling isn’t limited to big brands or celebrity marketers. You can do this easily by building a library of your own stories. From your personal story of how you began your career or company, to client stories.

Where in your past have your experience and values allowed you to create results for your clients?

Write out unique stories for different situations and read them before every meeting. Start anticipating what potential clients might want to hear before you engage them and be ready to tell them a story where you solved a similar problem.

Clients have different needs and different problems to be solved. By digging back into your experience you can build content that communicates with people at a deeper level. This isn’t about bullshitting people, this is about underscoring your value using the deepest mode of human communication.

Practice telling your stories and don’t be afraid of trial and error. Even if a story seems to fall flat trust that certain points came across. When a story works, people will often let you know either directly or indirectly.

Let your audience experience what you do through story. As you get better and better at it, it will become second nature and people will start to get a picture of what it’s like to work with you.

They’ll want the results, and you’ll have built the bridge that lines up your values and theirs.