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The importance of storytelling

Once upon a time there were phones that we just used to make calls, send pictures, and play snake...


Once upon a time there were phones that we just used to make calls, send pictures, and play snake…

Then one day a hero in a black turtleneck showed us there was another way.

That man was of course Steve Jobs, and that phone was of course the iPhone.

But he gave us more than just a computer in our pocket, he gave us a new appreciation for storytelling.

He was a master of using storytelling to competitive advantage. He used it to help us to make sense of new technology and what it meant for our lives. To organise complex information in a way that meant we understood the benefits with simple clarity.


So how did he do it?

The launch of the iPhone in 2007 is a great demonstration of his genius. These seven storytelling steps could inspire your next sales strategy:

Step one: The promise

Hook people in straight away. And the promise of ‘a revolutionary product that changes everything’ did the trick for Jobs and the iPhone launch…

Step two: Give context

Start to set the scene of your ‘revolution’ to help people start to quickly picture the role it could play in their lives. Jobs compares his big reveal to the iPod and the Mac 1.

Step three: Introduce the villain

Every great story has a battle good and evil. The villain for Jobs? The hard to use and not to ‘smart’ smartphones that were already on the market.

Step four: Build to the reveal

It’s time to get people excited to meet the hero of your story. As Jobs told his audience: “Apple is going to reinvent the phone.”

Step five: Put on a show

Paint the picture and bring the story to life with images – they help people remember what you’re saying. Jobs also made sure to connect it to concepts people already understood – an iPod, a phone, an internet communicator, all in one.

Step six: Reinforce your mission

For Jobs, it was to offer something that turns Blackberry to pulp, to offer everyone something infinitely better. 

Step seven: Compel action

Jobs lists 13 stand-out features of the iPhone and then points out it costs the same as the substandard ones already on the market. It makes the decision to buy one seem like a no-brainer.

If you’re ready to get people interested and excited about your ideas these principles from the storytelling of Steve Jobs are a great place to start.

Ultimately, we engage with stories because they make us feel something. The next time you’re selling your vision invite people on the adventure with you – and show them why they’ll enjoy the ride.