Why Storytelling Works

The Importance of Storytelling: Article 1 of 3

The facts:

  • here was a family consisting of a mom, a dad, and a 16-year-old daughter.
  • The daughter caused a collision but was unhurt.
  • The other driver was injured badly enough to sue for damages.
  • The family had to pay a judgment of $500,000.
  • The parents had earlier decided they couldn’t afford an umbrella policy.
  • The family lost their home and had to move to a different neighborhood.
  • The story:

    I had a client a couple years ago that I’d like to tell you about. A married couple and their daughter. Beth and Steve were super-nice folks. They lived in the same neighborhood as me—a really great neighborhood—and were always involved in our community. Steve was a volunteer soccer coach and Beth was the mom who always seemed to be helping everyone. Their daughter Zoe was doing great, too…a solid B student, involved in the drama club and choir. You know…the kind of family that everyone wants to be.

    And then Zoe got into an accident. It was just a new-driver thing. She wasn’t paying attention and ran a stop sign near her school. Unfortunately, she hit an older woman who had all kinds of medical issues after the accident. That lady got a lawyer, and Beth and Steve got hit with a judgment of half-a-million dollars. But they couldn’t come up with that kind of money, so they lost their house. They ended up in an apartment in a not-so-great part of town because they couldn’t afford their old neighborhood anymore, and Zoe had to finish her senior year at a new high school. The poor kid felt terrible about the whole thing. The saddest part is all of that could have been prevented if they’d taken out the umbrella policy I recommended. They thought they couldn’t afford it, but for only twenty-five dollars a month, they’d have been covered and able to continue living the way they really wanted to live.

    Which has more impact—the facts or the story?

    Facts engage intellect. Stories engage emotion. Storytelling is an ingrained way for us to relate to each other as humans. When we listen to tales of others’ feats, the same parts of our brain fire up as those of the person performing them. Painting a picture with words enables your clients to see themselves in situations that they’ve never been in before.

    Storytelling is especially effective for insurance agents because many of the types of incidents that insurance covers—floods, collisions, lawsuits—are not things that people experience regularly. If you can help your client understand what it would be like to face a difficult situation, you may find it easier to persuade them that they need protection.

    Stories don’t always have to be doom-and-gloom. Humor is a great way to connect with others, too. Let’s change one of our facts above and say that family had enough funds to pay the $500,000 judgment. We’ll pick it up in the middle of the second paragraph:

    …Beth and Steve got hit with a judgment of half-a-million dollars. Now, Zoe won the parent lottery, because her mom and dad had enough money to pay for it. But let me tell you…they were NOT happy!? That entire summer, every time I drove past their house, I’d see Zoe doing some kind of manual labor…mowing the lawn…sweeping the driveway…painting their fence. It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees outside, there she’d be. Poor thing! I bet if we’d all been able to go back in time, her parents would’ve taken out the umbrella policy I recommended, and Zoe would’ve gladly paid the $25 a month it would have cost.

    Both stories can help someone arrive at the same conclusion—it would be smart to take out an umbrella policy—but in two very different ways.

    In our next two articles, we’ll continue to explore how storytelling can be a useful tool for agents by looking at what makes a good story and where and how you can use them to relate to clients. In the meantime, we’ve got some great stories about how Hometown Quotes has helped other agents grow their books. Please click here to email us or call us at 1.800.820.2981 to hear more.

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