Once upon a time, a business had a story. Prospects and customers connected to it; they found it personal, telling, truthful and relevant. That’s what made it a good one. Just like every person has his own story, so does every business. You can use storytelling to get your target customers’ attention and resonate with them on an emotional level. It works in every niche because it relies on human psychology. Our brain is hardwired to respond to a story.
Ever since I started my consultancy business, I find that people ask me about my story even before we start talking about anything else. And while there’s no doubt that storytelling is one of the most powerful tools in your business communication toolkit, sadly, it’s a tool that most people don’t use.
Good stories paint a mental picture. They activate your senses, touch your emotions and sometimes a funny moment makes you not only remember the story but share it with others. Storytelling has always been an integral part of society. In fact, it all started with the first cave drawings. Whether you’re trying to position your brand in a crowded market, attempting to sell your products or services, or struggling to get your message across when meeting your clients; or whether you are a complete startup, a small business or a large organization, you need to include storytelling in your presentations.
Storytelling for business
The most successful marketers and salespeople are those who have lots of stories to tell about real people who experienced their products and services, their brand, employees, and values. Storytelling is by far is the best tool to educate your prospects. The best stories are those that start with an intriguing situation in the very beginning. They make you think, react and engage. They captivate and create an emotional connection that carries the listener or the reader through to the very end. The reason storytelling is important to a business is that your audience will remember, share, and perhaps like it so much they’ll want to be part of the story your company is telling.
Tell Your Story
It sounds obvious, but only you can tell your story. So many marketing articles talk about having a content strategy. I would say; first tell your story, then worry about all the rest later. Every company, of every size, has a story to tell. Telling your story should become a key part of your overall content strategy because remember, people don’t buy from brands or companies, they buy from people, and your company’s story isn’t about a brand or a company, it’s about the people who helped create it and helped innovate and make it better every day. Customers always start to know, like and trust the people in the company before attempting to discover more about their products and services. Customers connect with businesses when they identify with their stories.
Here at 10 tips to help you benefit from the power of storytelling so your voice is heard amongst the crowd:
1. Make It Simple:
Your story doesn’t have to be complex. Just tell people who you are, where you were, what happened and why you’re telling them the story. End of story.
2. Get Your Team Involved:
It takes all the voices in your organization to tell your story. Don’t be the only one who goes around telling the story of your company. Train everyone to tell the corporate story—turn them into storytellers and get them excited about telling your company story.
3. State the Message:
Your story needs to have a message – a clear takeaway for your listeners. It has to have a purpose and make a point. A story without a message is pointless in business. In some cases, you can also take it one step further by asking for the action.
4. Watch Your Details:
Guard against too many or too few details. Give people enough details to set the context and help them experience the story and see what you see.
5. Use Dialogue:
Make sure you include dialogue in your stories. Repeat for your listeners the actual words the person in your story spoke. Dialogue personalizes your story. This will make the listener pay more attention to what you’re saying.
We’re all born storytellers— it’s something we’ve been doing all our lives. But storytelling is an ability that improves with practice.
7. Start Collecting Stories:
As a business owner, you need to have a collection of stories in your toolkit. These include stories about who you are as a person or leader, what you stand for and what your values are. You need stories that bring your vision to life and let people know why you do what you do.
8. Amplify Your Story:
Today, it’s important to tell a consistent story across all platforms. It means your story needs to be shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google + and other social media platforms, as well as YouTube. By doing so, you amplify your voice and presence wherever your customers are.
9. Make It Sincere:
When you tell a story, speak in your own voice and drop the jargon and inflated language. One tip in that regard is to check out your “About Us” page on your website. Does it tell your story? Does it even sound like you? This is an ideal place to start telling your story.
10. Don’t Read – Tell:
Don’t ever read your story. Spend whatever time it takes for you to practice telling your story. It may not be perfect if you tell it without reading it, but nobody is looking for perfection. Your listeners are looking to be engaged, to be inspired, to be entertained.
Make Your Customer The Hero
Think about every great story you’ve read, you love the story because you connect with the story’s main character. Batman has a tragic childhood, Superman comes from another planet, Mowgli is an orphaned human boy. For your story, the main character must be your ideal customer. You are the guardian, mentor, coach, playing the supporting role for the hero in your story. Before you decide what kind of hero’s role to give to your customers, you have to understand their persona, know where they come from, what problems they are looking to solve, and which service they value the most. Many businesses create a story that showcases the product as the “Hero”. If you really want your customers to buy or appreciate your product then you should make them the hero or star of the story, not your product or service. Your customer or prospect has problems, and it’s your job to guide them on a journey to solve that problem and achieve their ultimate destiny.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
Wrong: “We recently helped ABC grow by 30%. To learn more about our products, don’t hesitate to contact me.”
Right: “I recently worked with ABC to help them grow by 30%. If you’re interested, I can tell you how they did that.”
Can you see the difference? Help your customers with their stories. Make them the hero who achieves their goals by working with you. So your next step is clear. Go through all your sales and marketing materials. Only describe your company and products in the context of how a customer used them or could use them, to win. In short, make your customer the hero of your story as well as their story. When those two stories align, you’ll make the sale. Stories grab our attention and inspire us. They can change minds and attitudes.
A well-told, authentic story can make you more trustworthy and encourage others to want to collaborate with you. Don’t let this age-old tradition pass you by.