What’s all the buzz about businesses, brands and storytelling? Open Forum says that business storytelling is an 'art' and every business needs a great story to hook their audience.
Where are you in the process of uncovering your business’s story and making it an integral part of your marketing? If you’re hung up on getting started, read on.
Open Forum points out that the art of business storytelling boils down to two exercises:
(1) Figuring out your message; and
(2) Committing to testing it and developing different iterations of it, pretty much on a continual basis.
Your story needs to be adaptable to different situations, platforms and audience segments, while retaining consistency in the main threads running through it.
Figure out your story by re-exploring and connecting your business’s past, present, and future values and beliefs. Make sure it is concise and authentic and connects with the audience by eliciting some emotion. Using colorful imagery and adjectives will help do that. But your story is also rooted in what you do. Because the products and services you sell are a big part of your brand, your business’s story should also relate to and be consistent with them.
Once you’ve got the foundation for your story, you can’t get too much feedback. Incorporate it at every one of your touch points and gauge reaction from customers and employees alike. Use all comments to tweak and improve until you’re satisfied that the story is resonating with audiences. Then make sure it is woven throughout every facet of your business, from presentations to thought leadership pieces to your website and social media channels to printed materials. As one business owner told Open Forum:
“Our story is our brand. It is the heart of our company, and it is the inspiration and emotional fabric of everything we do.”
Jim Blasingame, host of the radio show The Small Business Advocate®, is a top expert in small business and entrepreneurship. He discusses using the power of storytelling to grow your business on forbes.com.
Blasingame says that storytelling is really a way for businesses to provide some “high touch” to customers in a technology-filled world. He outlines three C’s for business storytelling:
- Connect with prospects to convert them into customers.
- Convey important points like your expertise, values, brand personality.
- Create customer memories that will make them want to return.
The reality, he says, is that small businesses are often better able to use their stories in these ways than larger companies.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) highlights six places where storytelling can be effective in promoting your business.
- Press releases
- Social media
As you’re looking for ways to creatively infuse your marketing efforts with your business’s story, keep in mind that it’s the storytelling elements that people remember. They provide the emotion, the affinity, the “connective tissue,” if you will.
In response to “a real hunger” for storytelling how-to guidance, Open Forum contributor Matthew May provides eight simple storytelling tips for business owners. Mays says he found his inspiration in the most unlikely place: Kurt Vonnegut’s eight rules for “Creative Writing 101.” Of course you need to read the full commentary, but here’s our paraphrased interpretations of the eight tips:
- Be respectful of your audience members’ time.
- Give the audience something to root for, a hero.
- Populate your story with characters who need something.
- Make every sentence count.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- If you can add conflict to advance your story, do it!
- Write your story to please just one person.
- Give your readers such complete understanding of your story that they’re invested and could even finish it themselves.
We’re all hardwired to be drawn to stories, May says, but our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. So be brutal in keeping your business’s story concise, but at the same time make sure it’s relevant and compelling to your audience. It’s a real balancing act, but one that, with practice, you can achieve.