For those of you who know me, you will know that I believe storytelling can be more than just a nice bedtime ritual you share with your kids. Storytelling can be a powerful engagement tool for your business. A means for you to connect with your customers (new and existing) on a higher level and turn them into loyal advocates.
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. — Robert McAfee Brown
In recent years, storytelling has become a bit of buzz word when it comes to online marketing for business. Its main purpose being to feed the public’s insatiable desire for informative and enjoyable content. But how can you use stories in your business to not only connect with your customers, but to encourage a long-term relationship and build your authority? Let’s start by looking at the fundamentals.
The fundamentals of a story
Essentially, a story is an account of imaginary or real people and events that includes a beginning, a middle and an end. But we all know that a good story is so much more than that.
A good business story must be engaging and offer value to your customers. It involves characters (you and your staff), a setting (your business, city or industry) a problem (the niggling issues or challenges your customers experience), and of course a resolution (a solution, advice or tips).
Within this structure, your business can use stories to help customers better understand what it is you do and why, the value of your product and / or services, and the all-important benefit of engaging with you.
If you can tell a good story you will leave your audience wanting more. Your readers will turn into leads, your leads into customers and your customers into loyal advocates.
Why you should be using storytelling as a tool in your business marketing
I have already touched on what a good story can do to transform potential customers into loyal buyers, but let’s delve into the ‘why’ a little deeper.
If you think back to the favourite stories from your childhood, chances are you will remember joining the characters on their journey, feeling excited as they triumphed, sad in times of loss and fulfilment at the end when they all live happily ever after. This is because stories have a special way of tugging at our heart strings and stimulating our imaginations. Our brains love stories. We are wired to value and memories the information shared within a story format.
When using storytelling to purvey your business messages, you can tap into this notion and drive emotional engagement, rational engagements sister. Rational engagement is based on the stimulation of the mind, whereas emotional engagement is based upon the stimulation of the heart. Using stories and taking an emotional approach will help your customers believe your message, relate to the context, make a decision and remember the experience.
With the vast amount of content available at our fingertips, finding ways to connect and to be more memorable are essential. Stories can help you do just that. Retention of information and value increases as your audience is drawn into your narrative.
How to use storytelling in business
By now you are probably thinking storytelling sounds like a great tool for engagement. But how on earth can I turn what I do every day into a fairy-tale for my customers? The good news is that storytelling can be incorporated into all forms of your business content: blogs, e-books, whitepapers, emails and even your ‘About us’ page. The value of storytelling can also be utilised in other departments to grow your business. For example, you could train your team to tell the story of your business or product to help close a sale, or use your story to captivate investors or secure funding.
When it comes to incorporating storytelling into your content marketing, here are a few things to consider:
- Ensure you focus on what your audience wants to hear and share. Stories should be about the human experience.
- Utilise language your audience understands and uses themselves. You will lose readers if your content is jargon heavy and laden with industry speak.
- Look at ways of utilising the 5 C’s of storytelling – Circumstance, Curiosity, Characters, Conversations and Conflict.
- Consider the opening of your story and how you will attract the reader’s attention.
- Think about the types of stories your audience would like to read / hear and where they are doing so.
- Avoid including unnecessary detail. Stick to information that matters to your audience.
- Be authentic in your offering. Establishing trust with your readers is essential when it comes to converting them to loyal customers. Don’t mislead or break this trust with false claims or incorrect information.
Lastly, remember that storytelling is not about inventing a narrative or creating something fictional. The very reasons why your business exists, why you developed your product or service, why you chose your team are all stories in themselves. Combine this with the emotions, experiences, needs and wants of your audience, and you have a valuable customer engagement tool at your fingertips.
We would be nothing without our story – Richard Branson
Do you have a business story to tell? Send me an email to find out how I can help you use storytelling as a powerful business tool.