You’ve probably heard of storytelling in the context of marketing and branding, but how is it important?
First let’s take a look at what storytelling is, and why it’s important. As humans we connect with stories – in fact, it has been scientifically proven that more areas of our brain are engaged when someone tells us a story as opposed to facts.
Stories are how we learn, instil morals and values, and connect with one another, which makes them all the more powerful when used in business. The brands that we know and recognize all have strong stories which resonate with their customers.
As a business owner, you must not forget storytelling. Try and create your own story. If you don’t have a story, it is very difficult for people to understand who you are and why they should buy from you.
You need to refer back to your proposition:
- How did you come across the problem?
- How did you feel when you had that problem?
- Why are you providing a solution to it?
- Why is it important to you?
- What should people expect from you when they are dealing with you?
All of these things are really important questions that people have and they are really central to building your story.
Just remember that people are not all like you. There are many types of people out there so while we want a really nice story around why you are doing what you are doing and what the benefits are, don’t always think that everyone likes the same things as you or thinks the same.
The Why Principle
Simon Senik famously talks about the ‘why principle’ as being the main reason that customers buy from you and audiences engage with you.
“The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” (Simon Sinek, Start with Why)
You can check out his famous speech here, but the basic overview is that customers and followers care primarily about WHY you are doing what you do, more so than what you’re doing, how you’re doing it or who you are. To tell them this, you need to understand your story and how it relates to the customers you’re talking to.
You probably already have an immediate answer to this question – After all, your motivation for your business comes from ‘WHY’ you do what you do. So if you haven’t already, then write it down in no more than a few sentences and keep referring back to this throughout your journey – when creating content and communicating with your customers.
You’ll find it useful to keep messaging focused and cohesive.
Why is storytelling important?
Storytelling is essential for making people get to know and trust you. If people buy the ‘why’ instead of the ‘who’ or ‘what’, then you need to use your story to convey why you do what you do.
Stories also help to increase the perceived value of your project, as proven in the famous ‘significant objects’ social experiment carried out in 2009.
Significant Objects was a literary and anthropological experiment that “demonstrated that the effect of narrative on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively.” 100 creative writers were asked to fabricate stories around items which were then sold on eBay. Would these stories add value to these items? The answer is ‘yes’. In fact, the net profit was 3.6 million dollars, a considerable increase of 2,700% in final markup.
This experiment proves, without a doubt, that us humans are drawn to stories and storytelling; we connect with them on a deep level. With this being the case, you want to make sure you get yours right. The following considerations should help you with this:
What does a story help you to convey?
- It conveys your purpose. Your Why.
- It shows your personality
- It creates empathy
- It adds perceived value
- It creates a relationship and helps your audience relate to you
What tools can you use to tell your story?
Your content is your tool for telling your story. Therefore, knowing your story is integral to all of the content you create for your business.
What content will help you to tell your story?
- Your Project description should tell your story, giving the reader a clear idea of why you do what you do and who you are doing it for.
- Your social media posts
- Case studies
- Human images
- Blog articles
- Personal team profiles
What are the ingredients of a good story?
This doesn’t necessarily need to be at the start of your story, but somewhere within your narrative you need to mention your background and your connection to your business. Not only does this give people a more human connection to you and your business, but helps to create trust, especially if your story or experience makes people feel that you are the best person out there for the job. If you have a team – introduce them! Seeing that there are real people involved, with relevant experience, is proven to promote trust from consumers.
Most ideas are solving a problem in one way or another. Even if this isn’t immediately obvious. Think carefully about the conflict in your story.
- What is the reason that you decided to start this business?
- Why was it something that needed to be created?
- This will usually give you your problem.
Summarize this problem for your reader. It may be something that they’re not familiar with, so refer them to facts/stats and articles/resources for them to learn more. If it is a problem common enough for your reader to be familiar with, then personalize your message and direct your content to them. You understand the problem they’re having and this is how you’re going to solve it.
What is YOUR solution?
This doesn’t mean that others haven’t come up with a similar solution before – this is your chance to emphasize what makes yours unique.
You should always analyse the problem at hand and your solution to it in order to get a thorough understanding of your proposition. This can then be outlined clearly in your story. You should begin to get an even clearer picture of who your audience is and who the people are that will benefit from your solution.
Once you’ve outlined the problem and solution then use examples of the people that your project can and will help. People connect better with human stories than dry facts and statistics, so the more case studies you can use, the better. Even if you don’t have any yet, you can use examples of the kind of people/communities your project will help. This will also help your potential customer to see how your business relates to them or people they know, or why it is a product or service that they would want to purchase or use.
Keep it short and concise
Keep your story concise and direct where possible. No-one wants to read a 1,000 word life story on each of your profile pages for example. They care about your WHY and the more punchy and direct you can make this message, the better. Use bullet points where you can.
Sometimes it’s better to show rather than tell; using images and graphics to convey your message can sometimes be more powerful than words.
When storytelling, you can show this in the story you tell, your project description, and the photos you share of you and your team. Be honest and upfront about past failures and risks of your business. Transparency increases trust from potential customers and reduces the risk of negativity further down the line.
A Call to Action
Whenever posting content, make sure that you have a clear call to action from your audience. Perhaps it could be to sign up to your mailing list? Being specific can help with this.
When planning your strategy always remember that everything that you produce and share needs to feed back to your story. Look out for brands that do this well and follow suit.
Making a checklist will help you to remember all of these points.