Why storytelling is your secret weapon in business (and how to do it properly)

Once upon a time, a company was created that promised to help people lead better lives.  The company made lots of money because it listened to what its customers really wanted, and the customers experienced everything they were promised.  And they all lived happily ever after.

Whether it’s that childhood staple “once upon a time”, the iconic EastEnders “duff duff" drums, a delicious trawl around your favourite bookshop or the roar of the MGM lion at the cinema, most of us love settling down to a good story. 

Preferably, we love a relatable story that takes us on a journey.  We want to finish a story feeling satisfied; that we’ve understood something or someone a little better.

Given that our love of stories is so hard-wired, it goes to follow that the ability to tell a good one is a powerful tool in business. 

(If you think you’re terrible at storytelling: think again!  We’re all naturally curious, and we tell stories every day without thinking about it – even if it’s just recounting that disastrous dental appointment over coffee with friends.  You’re more than up to the job).

So, just where do you begin creating your compelling business story?

Identify the right storytelling opportunities…

For most businesses, among these will be the ‘About’ section on your website, your company blog, and your ‘elevator pitch’.  All of these provide you with a great opportunity to tell a business story from your unique perspective.

…and then do some research

What stories are your competitors telling about themselves?  How about the companies you most admire?  Grab a coffee, browse their websites and make some notes. 

For example, Graze.com’s website tells the upbeat and energising story of a company started by “seven friends who love food and wanted to get more out of snacking”, while the M&S story is all about heritage and warm longevity, as they explain how back in the 1950s, M&S customers tried to serve the stores’ newly-introduced avocado pears with custard.

Don’t be boring!

When you pick up a (good) novel, you’ll usually read about an exciting or relatable incident first.  This incident compels you to find out more about the main characters as you read on.

Keep this principle in mind when you talk about your business.  What should your ideal customers know first?  This will usually be along the lines of what’s in it for them. 

It can help to think of this as a simple formula, i.e.:

How people will feel or what they will be able to do = what you do and how you do it.

Don’t be afraid of honesty

Most people love a good ‘triumph over adversity’ story.  Reading or hearing about setbacks and how they were overcome is far more interesting and relatable than a smoothly intimidating story of easy success. 

Know your audience

Fairytales are enchanting because children love magic.  Soap operas with gritty storylines appeal to people who want to immerse themselves in others’ lives for half an hour.

Who are your ideal customers?  Awaken their curiosity, and make your story relatable to them.

Finally, don’t forget that the basic structure of a story is a beginning, a middle and an end.  A good business story will help people identify just how you’ll help them (beginning), understand who you are and what you do (middle) and then leave them compelled to find out more (end).

Do this well, and you’ll all live happily ever after! 

Can I help you tell your unique business story?  If so, get in touch!