“We have an important story to tell,” is something I hear from business owners quite often. They then proceed to tell me about their story of value, their story of variety, or their important story of affordability. To which I respond, those aren’t stories. Value propositions, perhaps, but not stories. The idea of storytelling for businesses is a notion that has gained traction in recent years and yet the execution of the concept is misinterpreted and misplayed. Sadly, most business owners and marketers aren’t journalists and they don’t really know where to start when telling a story.
So, let’s set some ground rules — real stories have characters, not value propositions. They have a beginning, middle, and end, and they leave the reader or viewer better off, or more knowledgeable and connected, than before they discovered the story. In this post, we’ll discuss why stories are important, what makes a great story, and where to find your business stories.
What Makes a Powerful Business Story
Understanding what makes a powerful business story begins with an understanding of what your reader or viewer wants or needs. Coincidentally, this is also the biggest pitfall for businesses trying to share their story. Too often, businesses tell the stories they would like to tell, rather than sharing stories that their customers and prospects would like to read or view. When thinking of your best business stories, consider what questions and/or concerns your reader has and share stories that address those topics. For example, if your readers frequently ask questions about the quality of your products, share a success story of a customer who had a similar concern. Avoid the temptation of sharing all the virtues of your business and instead talk about the success of your customer. Make sure your story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Lastly, keep in mind all memorable stories have a conflict and a resolution, so share those aspects if possible.
Where to Find Your Business Stories
One of the most debilitating challenges people have in this process is unearthing these memorable business stories. Often, these stories abound in and around our businesses. It’s just that we don’t always take the time to identify these stories. Here are some easy places to find stories: Check with your customers, your suppliers and vendors, and, of course, your employees. So often, your employees have tremendous stories and they’re often the best sources for stories.
Of course, this may all seem easier said than done and truth be told, the art of storytelling for business is more journalism than marketing. However, with some creativity and desire to unearth real stories that engage and inspire your target audience, rather than sell to them, you can begin to move the needle. Remember, online communication is a different animal, and in this kingdom, authentic information and stories reign supreme. And if you question this thinking, I ask you this — when was the last time you Googled a commercial when doing research on a product or service?