It doesn't matter if you are selling a product, service or asking people to support a cause-- most consumers don't like being marketed to. What they really crave, whether they realize it or not, is a personal connection.

You can inform consumers about all of your amazing product features and what sets your services apart from the competition all you want. But at the end of the day, the business with the most powerful connection to their audience wins.

Through my journey as an entrepreneur, I have learned that storytelling is a leader's most valuable skillset and it's up to you to learn how to use it to your advantage and market towards your audience in a way that wins. 

It's the businesses that ask themselves this one question that succeed in their marketing: 

What are the stories that only you can tell? 

Stop trying to sell everyone else's stories. Determine what makes you unique and turn that into a story worth listening to. You can't simply rely on emulating what other successful brands have done and hope it works out for you too. Your brand must tell a story that's uniquely yours in order to stand out from the masses. 

Look at your origin story and consider what unique perspective that brought you. Don't be afraid to look into your past for your true story, because that is where your unique vantage point likely lies. 

What stories worked for you before won't work now.

There is no doubt having a narrative behind your brand has become a common marketing trend. The days of e-commerce businesses banking on simply being a "mom-and-pop" brand are over. Now, you must get more personal and tell the stories specific to your journey. The brands telling the personal stories only they can tell are the ones with the largest audience of consumers.  

Authenticity and credibility go hand in hand. Only share the stories that come from a place of comfort and connection. When you define your story, keep in mind there is a difference between intimate and personal. A personal narrative is something you hold close but are willing to share, while an intimate anecdote borders something private from the public eye. The line where this crosses is unique for everyone, so determine your limits and build personal stories you feel comfortable sharing with everyone.

Look at every facet of your business for the right story. 

Don't have some sudden life change or heroic recovery to use as your storyline? That is okay. You are telling a story, but it doesn't necessarily need to be an Oscar-winning drama. Look back over the timeline of your life and connect the dots to see what threads together. 

Your story isn't just about you. Review every avenue within your business that is special, whether it is a track record of experiences, manufacturing or supply chain practices or a specific benefit. Find the most unique and emotionally charged element on the list and build a tale around that. 

If price is your only competitive advantage, that is your story. Instead of looking at your product's price or value from a tangible proposition perspective, translate it into a message. If you have no added benefits from your other competitors-- and I see that a great deal in Amazon and e-commerce sellers-- it is the narrative you tell that will ultimately set you apart.

The story is the means to travel to the end product. It is through these stories that we communicate ideas, form groups and work together. In business, that translates to building a loyal community of customers that advocate for both your product and your brand.

Craft your story to create a competitive advantage. Make it a good one.