For thousands of years, human beings have engaged in storytelling as an integral part of our lives. It’s how we have passed on our histories and how we have entertained each other. It’s the lessons our parents have passed on to us, and what we pass on to our children. It’s what we use to put our kids to bed at night.
But storytelling is also what we use to explain, for instance:
- Whether to try something new or whether to avoid it.
- Whether something is valuable or useless.
- How to use something.
- How something can improve your life.
In the context of a successful business, if “something” is your product or service, this kind of storytelling is hugely important.
What Does Storytelling in Business Mean?
One of the keys to a successful business is connecting with people – where applicable, that means customers, potential customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, and resellers or retailers of your product.
Customers need to connect with your product in order to be interested in it. Your employees need to connect with their workplace in order to be motivated to come to work, do their best, and stay around. Shareholders need to connect with the business to be motivated to invest. Storytelling is a key part of that connection, from pitching your product to creating a culture that retains employees.
Consider these few examples. To pitch an idea for a new product or solution, you use a story about the problem your product will solve, and a story about the target customer who has that problem. To develop a new product, you tell a story of how the product will change the environment in which it will exist. To attract and keep your best employees, you use stories about your culture to motivate them and get everyone working toward the same vision. Salespeople use stories to connect and interact with customers and tell a story about the product in order to sell it.
Why is Storytelling Important?
Stories are such an integral part of our lives that people will use stories to make decisions. Facts and figures may play a part in a decision, but a compelling story will be far more powerful than a table of data. Successful brands have a cohesive story of their vision that spans all channels and campaigns. So your challenge is to use effective storytelling to answer the basic question of any business: why should people care about your product. Why should customers, employees, or investors care.
Rather than focusing on your idea, your product or your business, focus on people, and use stories to do that. Stories will help your target audience learn about your products (or services, if applicable) and help them form an emotional connection to your business.
Telling Stories Through Your Online Presence
By now you understand how stories are a key part of all facets of your business. Let’s focus on storytelling through your online presence, where you can incorporate stories in many ways.
An obvious example is through blogs, which are natural avenues for storytelling, but don’t forget about areas like your “About Us” page. The story of your business is as important as the story of your specific products and services. Customers love to know the people behind the business. Even product reviews tell stories.
Five Key Considerations in Your Online Storytelling
There are some important components to be sure to include in your online storytelling:
- Design and images – don’t just use words. People are attracted to the visual, so pictures, images, videos and infographics can all be powerful additions to your story.
- Personalization – consider your target audience and focus on telling the story to one key customer, not thousands of generic people.
- Utility – tell the story of why your product or service is valuable to the customer
- Easy to Share – make your content compelling enough to share and include a call to action to encourage people to share it. Also, share the stories your customers tell about your products or services.
- Keep it Fresh – continue to freshen and update your content to keep it relevant.
An Example – the Travel Purse
Let’s consider a specific example. Let’s say you have identified a need for a compact travel purse, rather than using a large handbag, and you have done the research to identify that there is a market for this product. Your value propositions for the product include that it is compact, stylish, and made with eco-friendly products. The problem you’re solving is that people usually have to carry a huge purse while traveling, and your purse will allow them to carry all their essentials and still look stylish, while also being environmentally friendly.
The story of your purse could start with a woman who commutes daily and was having back trouble due to the weight of the purse she carried. But she also wanted to look stylish, and she cares about the environment. Using your target audience, you can create a compelling story about a customer who has found value in your product.
Or perhaps the story of your company is your story. Perhaps you’re a former business traveler who was looking for a solution for your regular travels and the large purse you carried on those trips. Or your friend, or family member is that business traveler. If your business has a compelling story, tell it!
Your employees will connect to the story of the eco-friendly materials, and the fact they are helping travelers and commuters to have a better travel experience. Your salespeople will tell the story of the problem the purse will solve, and how the purse will help customers, while being stylish and environmentally friendly.
You can tell the story of your product in a variety of ways online, for instance:
- Tell the story of the company and the original idea for the purse in the “About Us” section of your website.
- Supplement your story with blog posts on topics such as the eco-friendly products you use, or the back problems caused by heavy purses.
- Invite customers to share stories of the purse, and include them in a reviews section.
- Create a video that shows the purse and its features, or a video of the production process.
Using your imagination, there are many stories that can be told about your purse that will create a connection to your product.
We live in an age where the Internet is making our world smaller. Anybody can be an entrepreneur and anybody can have a website and sell a product. It isn’t enough to create a product and launch a site, and hope people will buy. It’s more important than ever to create a connection.
However, we are all storytellers, and stories are everywhere in your business, if you take the time to find them, create them and share them.
About the Author
Author Bio: Callum Mundine is part of the marketing team at oneegg.com.au. He is an Amazon marketplace & white hat link building specialist, and has launched multiple successful brands on Amazon.com. Callum like his eggs boiled.