Can Storytelling Help Your Business Rocket Past the Competition?
Storytelling and business might not seem to go together. When we think about creating a strong online brand, we think about things like first-class hosting, ROI, and conversions. After all, marketing is serious business.
When we hear the word “story,” we think of something fanciful. The right story can make all the difference in differentiating your business from the competition and giving people a reason to choose you over the other options available to them.
Eliminating stories as a means of connecting with your target audience is a mistake. In fact, storytelling can be the one thing that launches your business to unprecedented success. People are hard-wired to respond to stories. It’s why we spend so much of our time watching television shows and movies.
Here’s what you need to know to use storytelling to boost your business.
Which Stories Should You Tell?
The first thing to consider is which story you should tell. Choosing the right story for your audience is the key – and it’s a more difficult thing to do than you might imagine.
That said, some classic story types are demonstrably useful for business.
#1: Origin Stories
How did your company get its start? Where did you get the idea for your signature product? What are your roots, and how do they relate to your business?
Origin stories are undeniably popular, and they give your audience a way to connect to your business that they wouldn’t otherwise have.
One example of an origin story done well is from the company Yellow Leaf Hammocks. Their About Us page features a story that weaves the company’s mission (training women of endangered tribes in Asia) to make hammocks and lift themselves out of poverty) with case studies explaining how the company has helped them.
#2: Rags to Riches Stories
Almost everybody loves a good rags-to-riches story. There are probably multiple reasons for that, but we think the most likely one is that people who are struggling want reasons to believe they can overcome their difficulties. A story about someone who did what they want to do is inspiring.
One of the most famous rags-to-riches stories comes from media mogul Oprah Winfrey. She grew up in extreme poverty, sometimes wearing potato sacks in lieu of clothing. Through persistence and talent, she eventually became one of the wealthiest people in the United States and one of the world’s most famous and successful people.
If your company or its founder has a rags-to-riches story, telling it can help people connect with you. You may also be able to apply this format to customer testimonials, something that we see frequently from companies whose customers have great success.
#3: Failure Stories
There are plenty of business leaders who paradoxically attribute their success to failure. In fact, knowing how to keep going after a failure is an essential business skill.
One good example is Spanx founder Sara Blakely. When she told her story to CNBC, she pointed out that she wanted to be a lawyer but performed badly on the LSAT – twice. She was selling fax machines door to door when she came up with the idea for Spanx.
#4: The Way We’re Different Story
Telling a story about your company is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors. That’s why crafting your uniqueness into a compelling story can be a hugely effective way of marketing your company.
The company Sally Snacks is an excellent example of a “Why We’re Different” story done right. Their story is the story of someone with a sick dog who learned that many dog foods and treats were packed with unhealthy fillers. She created Sally Snacks to provide dogs with proper nutrition – and owners with the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’re taking good care of their pets.
#5: The Anecdote
Not all stories need to be momentous to be effective. Some of the most effective storytelling is anecdotal. Many companies tell anecdotal stories on their blogs and social media pages. Some may be about the company, while others are about customers and their experiences.
A good example is the beauty company, Dove. They regularly share stories of women on their Facebook page. Their stories include written content, photographs, and videos. None of them are long, but the result is compelling social media content with a message that sells.
Storytelling Pointers to Use
Whatever type of story you tell, it’s important to tell it in a way that’s approachable, compelling, and effective. Here are some tips to help you do that.
- Keep your language simple. Even if you sell a technical product, it’s not a good idea to riddle your story with jargon or incomprehensible language. Keep your story readable by minimising long words. Short sentences and short paragraphs will help ensure that your story is easy to digest and remember.
- Establish a clear focus for your story. It’s important to know:
- Who your target audience is
- What point you want to convey
- Why you’re telling the story
If you identify these three things, you’ll be sure to tell your story in a way that’s clear and understandable for the people in your target audience.
- Be genuine and authentic. It might be tempting to embellish your story by stretching the truth or adding drama. It’s essential to resist that urge. The truth is that people are remarkably sophisticated about stories. They’ll sense it if you stray from the truth. Instead, keep your story authentic Focus instead of telling it in an engaging way.
- Use humour. Humour is memorable, and it engages people instantly. Of course, not every story lends itself to a humorous tone. But, if yours does, it may be useful to use some lighthearted language and funny analogies to get your point across.
- Have a clear outcome. Your story must be well-structured, and when a reader finishes it, they should walk away knowing what you want them to know. Don’t muddy the water by going off on a tangent or bringing in unnecessary information.
- Be consistent with your story. If you plan to tell your story in more than one place, it’s essential to keep it the same even if the format and wording varies. For example, you might tell a visual version of your story on Instagram and a verbal version on your “About Us” page. The format can be different, but the gist of the story should remain the same.
These six tips can help you use storytelling to connect with your target audience in a meaningful way. Remember, you can use storytelling on your website, blog, and social media pages.
Compelling storytelling is effective marketing. Telling your story can help you to differentiate your company, engage your existing customers, and grow your business.
To learn more about how first-class hosting can help you tell your story effectively, please click here now.