Advice

What Is Business Storytelling and How You Can Benefit From It

Who didn’t love tales when they were kids?

Since childhood, we’ve been accustomed to stories. Our parents and grandparents used to read us stories and folk tales to entertain us and develop our imagination. Even today, when we are grown-ups already, we still love them. Stories have conquered our hearts and we can’t imagine our life without them. We read them not only in books but on social media, too.

People are hungry for stories. It's part of our very being.
                                                                                    Studs Terkel

Today, stories have become a part of our professional lives, and specialists use them to reach out to leads and clients. Now, it is called business storytelling. So what is it and how you can benefit from it?

What Is a Story and What Is Business Storytelling

Before we get into the details of what business storytelling is, why it is so popular, and how you can benefit from it, let’s define what a story and business storytelling are.

A story is a true or fictional sequence of events that has a definite goal or moral. It aims to describe something that has happened over a certain period, educate readers, and/or entertain them. A story, in fact, is an art that has been known for thousands of years.

Why do people consider stories so popular? Well, if statistics appeal to our minds, a story gets to our hearts. It evokes emotions and has a strong impact on the audience. It goes deeper than just providing facts about some events or sequences of events. It also touches our inner world.

You’re never going to kill storytelling because it’s built-in the human plan. We come with it.
                                                                                                                                            Margaret Atwood

Business storytelling is the process of creating and presenting a fictional (or real) story for numerous business goals. The key one is to lead a person to purchase. A business story contains a vivid or hidden message that calls us to action, buy. While a story teaches us what is good and what is bad, a business story teaches us what to buy, who to buy from, and why.

Why Storytelling Is Popular

People are busy and don’t have much time to read long stories. Yet, we still need them. They allow us to distract ourselves a bit and relax for a while. A story is a powerful tool in the hands of professionals. When they create a truly attractive and catching story, they can make us do anything. If the aim of a professionally crafted story is to book a meeting, we are most likely to do that after reading it.

A few other reasons marketers love the storytelling technique are:

Storytelling Is Informative

A story is not just a sentence that calls us to action. It’s a set of sentences that describe something. It’s long, and you can add as much information and details in it as you need. Thus, the informational flow is the key element of storytelling and the reason professionals love it.

A Story Encourages Imagination

In a theater or a movie, you perceive the picture the director shows to you. At the same time, when you are reading a story, your imagination turns on, and you visualize the text in your unique way. Even if we read the description of blue curtains, they will be different for me and you. You can think of light blue, and I will create an image of dark blue with small stars. So simple, but that’s the truth.

You Can Improve Business Development and Humanize Your Approach

If you want to share your product story, think of why you’ve decided to create it. What problems did you face? What made you believe you need to work on something new? Tell people about the pain points you had and the reasons you started working on your strategy and product. They will see that you are a person, real and open to communication.

Stories Attract People and Keep Them Engaged

A story is a natural way of our communication, so with it, it’s easier to attract a reader. And if you manage to attract someone with a story, you can also easily keep them engaged.

Stories Are Memorable

We tend to remember something with clear logical associations. Even if a person doesn’t remember what you are doing, they will remember your story. With it in mind, they will recollect the area of your specialization.

A Story Creates a Sense of Purpose and Calls to Action

Wharton School of Business conducted an experiment and found that when we see a clear goal, we are more likely to interact. A few people were collecting donations in a call center. The group that told a story about how this money would improve the lives of others got more donations compared to those who did not. So, with a vivid goal in mind, you can persuade people to do anything.

A Story Is a Great Persuasion Tool

As far as a story appeals to our inner world, it has a strong impact on us. With it, it’s easier to evoke a definite response and persuade a person to perform the required action. People are emotional creatures. So to push them to something, you need to appeal to their emotions. If you do this with the help of business storytelling, you are doomed to success.

A Story Can Easily Transform Into Sales

You know how powerful a word is. You can burn any desire or feeling with its help and make people do what you expect them to do. If you are a professional, they will think that this was their decision.

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.
                                                                                                                               Brandon Sanderson

Based on the reasons business storytelling is so popular, here’s how you will benefit from it:

  • Your brand promotion will look more natural and authentic.
  • You will acquire more leads.
  • It will be easier for you to move the leads down the sales funnel.
  • You will keep the clients engaged and re-engage the old ones.

Business Storytelling Formula

If we address the classic storytelling formula, we’ll find out that Aristotle’s one contains 7 elements. They are plot, character, theme, diction, melody, décor, and spectacle. The modern business storytelling formula is a bit shorter. Namely, it consists of four elements: character, conflict, resolution, and your customer.

The main character of the story is the person with definite pain points. They struggle through difficulties and need a solution to their problem. In case you are telling about your brand’s bringing to life, the character is the person who created the product.

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
                                                                                      Ray Bradbury

Conflict, or challenge, is the barrier the character has to overcome. This problem appeals to the reader and connects them to your business. For example, if your service deals with lead generation, the challenge can be “lead gen on a budget.” If you are telling a story of your company, the conflict can be “what influenced the creator and pushed them to craft new stuff.” Remember: if there’s no conflict in your story, you can hardly call it a story.

Where there is a conflict, there is a resolution. This part of your business story tells readers about the solution that made the character happy and solved their problems. The closing part wraps up the character(s) and the conflicts. This key element of your story equals call-to-action. Is it a story if there’s no happily ever after? Yes. It’s all about your imagination. Craft a story that has no happy ending but provide info on how everything could have been.

You always get more respect when you don’t have a happy ending.
                                                                                                     Julia Quinn

 

Customer, the reader who perceives the info, is probably the most important element of business storytelling. Whichever type of content you create, a Facebook ad or a spoken story of your company, do it with your buyer persona in mind. You know their needs, pain points, and interests. So when you craft an appealing story, write it for your customers and leads, not yourself.

Do not forget about a few techniques that will help you compose a good and effective story:

  • Simplicity: Your story is to be unique, no doubt. But still, do not go into details to not spend time in vain, or your readers won’t understand. Make it simple and easy-to-process.
  • Completeness and well-structuredness: Whether it’s a short video or a long-read article, stick to the well-known structure: beginning, middle, end.
  • Entertainment: Do you personally love engaging stories? So do your readers. A story is about relaxation, not boredom.
  • Information, education, and emotions: You are not just telling a story, you are educating people on a vital issue. To not turn into a boring writer, appeal to human emotions.
  • Genuineness: Do not promise mountains and marvels; be realistic.
  • Flexibility: A good story is the one that appeals to universal experiences all people have (or at least professionals within your niche or industry).
  • Memorability: Think of how to make your business story memorizable. A good joke? Inspiration? Or maybe sarcasm?
  • Relevancy: A story needs to reflect your customer. If it doesn’t, improve it.

Storytelling Process

Like any art, a story demands your flight of imagination, and you can think that there are no strict rules. If you ask an artist “How do you paint?”, most likely they will reply something like “Don’t know, it comes naturally.”  In fact, writers do the same.

Authors do not choose a story to write, the story chooses us.
                                                                                           Richard P. Denney

Still, if there are main and additional elements of a good story, there should be a plan professionals stick to. The business storytelling process is not only about crafting a story itself. It also includes four more steps to follow.

Step 1. Research the Audience

When you were creating your product, you were thinking of who it will be useful for. When you are working on another freebie or a blog post, you do it with your buyer persona in mind. When you compose a cold email to your leads, you remember about your clients and think of your email recipients.

It’s the same process with storytelling. When you work on your story, remember about your readers. Go through your audience, create a buyer persona image (if you don’t have one), and think of who will be reading/listening/viewing your story. You might even survey your audience to uncover relevant insights.

Step 2. Define the Goal of the Story

When marketers create ads, they know for sure what the core message of the ads is. Why? Because they are professionals, and they can easily call people to action within 6-10 words.

So you are supposed to. Whether you are crafting a short landing page or an hour-podcast, think of how to formulate the core message of the whole story in 6-10 words. Can’t do that? Then your story doesn’t have it, and you need to change something in it.

Do you remember those two-sentence horror stories? They aim to make the reader get scared.

Do your best and craft a story that conveys a clear message.

Step 3. Decide on the Story Type and the CTA

Every snowflake is unique, just like every story. Each of them has its plot, characters, and message (call-to-action). Depending on the last point, you will create your story. Here are a few examples for you to get inspiration from:

  • To call to action, avoid endless details. Provide a problem and show the bright solution – your product. Do not divert people from their main goal.
  • If you want to tell people about your history, be genuine. Describe your pain points, challenges, and problems. People will read about you as a person who is not afraid to admit their failures. They will also gladly connect to such a brand.
  • If you want to grow your community and collaborate with people, push them to a discussion. Ask questions, offer them to tell their stories and experiences, burn a desire in them to share your way to success.
  • To educate your audience, describe an informative story that will teach readers how to use your service, how to overcome the problem they have, what alternatives there are, etc.

Step 4. Write the Story and Get Some Feedback

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.
                                                                                                                                 Anne Lamott

Stories come in different formats: video, audio, written text, and digital. And your future story depends on your industry, audience, CTA, and goal. Think of which form would work best for your audience and create:

  • A written story comes in the form of a blog post, landing page, and books. They are the simplest way to present your story and attract people: you just need a pencil or Google Docs.
  • A podcast is an audio version of your story that you can easily create. Compose and record it. It is simple and rather fast, but profitable.
  • A video is a more complicated storytelling strategy compared to two previous ones. You need a good camera and a camera operator. Or at least a device with a stabilizer. Yet, your YouTube-channel will gain many subscribers; thus, you will have many potential clients.
  • A digital story is the most complicated and expensive way to tell your story. You can create an animation, interactive content, or even a game that will be highly engaging

Whichever type of business storytelling you choose, remember that the form means nothing. What is of greatest importance is the message it conveys.

When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.
                                                                                                                                              Stephen King

Step 5. Share the Story

Creating content is only half the battle. Your aim is to be heard and to convert leads. Once the story is written, think of where people will find it. Besides Facebook and email, you can share your stories on your blog, social media, professional networks, and landing pages. Your imagination is the only limit!

Final Chords

Business storytelling is what will help you benefit and grow your audience. With a well-developed strategy, you can attract potential clients, lead them through the sales funnel, and push them to a conversion.

Always consider the whats, the whos, and the whys of the story. What are the problems and the solutions in the story? Who is your character and who is your target audience? How does the story go?

To skyrocket your business and benefit from storytelling to the fullest, follow these few tips:

  • The 3Rs: real, readable, relatable
  • Use pictures
  • Don’t go into all the details
  • Send a sequence of storytelling emails
  • Don’t forget about the conflict
  • Use tropes to attract and hold the readers’ attention (onomatopoeia & metaphors)

May all your business dreams come true!

 

Author Bio:

Helen Holovach is a dedicated copywriter for Snov.io blog. She’s passionate about email marketing, deep research, statistics, mobile games, and singing songs to a guitar.

Website: snov.io

Twitter: @snov_io

Mercy - CBNation

This is a post from a CBNation writer. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue 16 Media.

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