How to use storytelling in business

As communications specialists, we’ve been banging on about the power of storytelling in business for a long time. But it is now really starting to grow in credibility as a key business development tool (see recent Fast Company article about how to make your brand move from good enough to remarkable).

A construction company that we work with is finding that high quality, engaging case studies – as opposed to just technical expertise and competitive costs – are increasingly critical to winning tenders.

 

What is your story?

 

Social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter have made it much easier to increase visibility for your brand and build relationships, trust and loyalty – without the expense or time of having to personally meet potential clients or customers on a regular basis. However, your messages can easily get lost behind your competitors’ if your content isn’t compelling enough. Potential clients and customers have huge amounts of choice and are time poor and impatient when looking for products and services – they are looking for something that immediately stands out to them, draws them in and maintains their interest.

The Fast Company article mentioned above opens by with the statement: “Remarkable businesses are innovative to the point of being individual, are due cause for conversation, and leave a lasting impression.”

So, how do you go from good enough to remarkable? It sounds obvious but it can be easy to ignore the following tips when you are ingrained in your business and what you do.

 

1.       Tell stories that are relevant to the outside world

We know that people think and remember things in terms of stories so they can be useful if you want to stick in someone’s memory. But, many businesses make the mistake of telling the wrong story.  Your company history and award wins might be important for internal nostalgia and morale and they will go some way to giving you credibility with your prospects. However, they aren’t the stories that potential clients, customers and new employees will really connect with. They want to hear stories that allow them to understand the people behind the business and the people like them that have benefited from your products and services in some out of the ordinary way. For example, for the recent launch of her new fake tan range, Michelle Mone OBE (of Ultimo fame) told an elaborate story about how she had spent a number of years and over £1m developing a product that she dreamt of as a consumer. The news stories told how during the process, scientists had ‘stumbled upon’ an ingredient that actually reduced cellulite – as opposed to causing it as many other fake tans can do.

2.       Make everyone in the organisation responsible for storytelling

Storytelling isn’t just the responsibility of your marketing team – it needs to be part of the company culture from the sales staff to the senior management team. Particularly for, say, professional services or construction firms, it is the technical experts who need to learn to tell stories that people can relate to – because they are who the prospective client is ‘buying’. They need training in how to cut through the jargon and pick out the compelling nuggets.

3.       Be worth talking about

In order to tell compelling stories that are worth talking about and sharing, you need to have something tangible to say. Usually, the things that are most interesting to those outside the organisation are the things that your people overlook as being mundane. If you are applying to university for example, the small details about life on campus from those that have lived it can be the most compelling. In order to be worth talking about, you need someone with the right skills and an external perspective to be able to identify the gems by talking to people from around the business and asking the right questions.

 

Like any great novel, your brand story has to have many different elements to make it a page turner. It needs chapters, a sequel and preferably a 10 book deal if you are going to keep your audiences engaged. If you don’t have the skills or resource to keep creating compelling content that will make you stand out from your competitors, Engage with us now.

 

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