We often think that talking and doing are two very distinct things. True engineers don’t need a motivational speaker to mumble for hours to get the job done. TED speakers, despite how inspiring they may sound, are just common Joes, not businessmen who change the world.
That’s the mindset you may be in until you get to know who Steve Jobs is. The man, the legend, as many would say, was in equal measure an entrepreneur and a public speaker. He wasn’t just using his platform to motivate or inspire people, though.
Arguably, it was his talent to persuade, to present his products in a favorable light that helped Apple grow into the tech giant it is today. If that’s a success story you want to replicate, this article is the perfect introduction to doing just that.
Why business storytelling is important
In online business, it’s important to satisfy Google crawlers with your writing and improve SEO. It’s more important, however, to talk to your customers than the bots. This is where storytelling comes into place.
Operating with digits and graphs is more factual and more correct. Many people say they would prefer to make purchasing decisions based on emotions. Few follow the principle, as behavioral studies show.
Most people follow emotion instead of calculations when they buy things. Storytelling is the perfect way to tap into that trend.
Millennials buy from businesses with values they can relate to. Rhetoric is the only way to express your values and show them to your core audience. Storytelling is one of the strongest tools in your rhetorical arsenal.
It doesn’t just tell the customer about how great your product is. It helps create associations between your product and the value you want to impose on it. Sometimes, these associations can go a long way.
It was Coca Cola’s ads that told a story of Santa Claus and Coke being integral to Christmas. The story was great, so it stuck, bringing Coca Cola millions in sales.
Creating stories that good is your goal. Here’s how you achieve it.
How to make business storytelling work
People are naturally prone to telling stories. From campfire tales to TED talks, we’re captivated whenever a good story is being told. Not everyone is a good storyteller, though.
If you think you don’t fit that category, here are 13 tips that would guide you on your way.
Know the audience
This step is crucial in all business dealings. The product you develop, your brand’s standing, and your storytelling strategy, all depend on who’s buying and who’s listening.
Imagine a car salesman as a typical storyteller. They can close the deal if they get to know the client. They ask questions casually, learn that their client is a party animal in their early twenties, and relate a story of how they took a similar car for a spin and got wild success with the ladies. Deal closed.
You don’t have the privilege to know your audience personally. This is why you need to do research and understand who are the people who are buying from you and what are their goals. Incorporate customer data in your marketing, and you’ll be able to craft a story that would resonate with your audience.
Set the goals
Your previous experience with storytelling might have been telling your kids a fairy tale or giving a presentation at work. The goal of these two is just to get the information out there. It’s not what you’re looking for in a business storytelling piece.
A business-oriented text that involves storytelling is not a field for experimentation with your writing. It’s a marketing device that has a specific goal. The goal may be to build your authority in the industry, to make your brand seem less corporate, or to show your audience your product is better than the competing ones.
Regardless of the goal, you have to figure it out beforehand and keep it in mind as you’re creating the story. Otherwise, it’s just a fun story without any value for marketing efforts.
Develop a voice
If you’re a fan of reading and haven’t been corrupted by YouTube-induced attention span, you can easily tell Hemingway from Twain just by reading a couple of paragraphs. You don’t need to know the name of the book or the characters, the only thing you need to tell one from another is their unique voice.
This is what you should strive for in business storytelling as well. Develop a unique voice that would represent your business. If you’re hiring many writers, you’ll have to define that voice so that they can copy it. Use proofreading software like Grammarly or Pro Essay Writer to control their work and make sure the voice is the same across all texts.
Learn the techniques
Show, don’t tell. This principle is the basis of everything you do in storytelling. Instead of stating something outright, provide an example. Instead of explaining how good your product is, relate a story that shows its good sides.
Create a setting. Start a story by painting a picture with words. Describe the scene where the action is happening and thoughts that are going through the minds of the characters, and the readers will know this is the start of a story. They’ll hang around to learn how it ends.
Repeat the thing that matters. You probably know this technique from Martin Luther King’s iconic speech “I have a dream…” He repeats those words over and over again, painting new visions of the future without prejudice. Repeat words, sentences, or situations that are key to your story to emphasize them.
Ask a rhetorical question. What is a rhetorical question? It’s a question that you go on to answer yourself. Ask something captivating, and you’ll set readers’ interest in motion, inviting them to stay for the answer.
In media res. Sometimes, the beginning of a story is too boring to keep anyone reading. If that’s the case, start by giving the readers a glimpse of what’s going to happen next. Then, go on telling about how the story got to that point.
Focus on emotions. Your goal as a storyteller is making people emote. Create points in your story where readers would feel intrigued, happy, sad, or scared. Test the story on your coworkers to see if you got it right.
Show struggle. The core of every good story is a struggle. Whether it’s a fight with a monster in an Old English epic or coping with your own limitations as a manager, people need some kind of a confrontation to feel engaged.
Create suspense. The best stories show that the heroes are not invincible. They can fail their quest and lose that confrontation. It’s when the Old English hero is just about to die at the hands of a monster or a manager is close to losing their project that the audience feels most interested in a story. Give them that suspense, and they’ll be happy to read it to the end.
Save the most powerful words for the ending. The start and the ending of a story are its most important elements. The beginning has to catch readers’ attention, but it’s the ending that people remember the most. Make the ending powerful, and you don’t just create a great story. You create a tweetable phrase right in the place people are more likely to tweet it, impressed by the story you’ve told.
Now you know the basics of business storytelling. You know what you have to do before writing, and how to write a great story. But where do you use it?
The answer is everywhere. You don’t have to be confined to case studies and product presentations when it comes to using storytelling.
You can weave storytelling elements into any text, written or spoken, to make it more engaging and explain complex ideas in simple words. With these tips and techniques, your content marketing is going to improve.