Spoiler alert: Your customers don’t care about your marketing goals. But they do love a good story.
Storytelling has been used by large companies since the dawn of advertising in the 1940’s – and what works for big business can often be adapted by small and medium-sized businesses to maximise advantage.
If you’re an SME business then your customers are hungry for a clear and concise marketing message, one with a convincing story behind it.
But exactly what is business storytelling, and why is it so important? Seth Godin, the US author of Purple Cow and Tribes was once famously quoted as saying: “If people aren’t talking about you, they’re not talking about you for a reason. And the reason isn’t that they dislike you. They’re not talking about you because you’re boring.”
We’d go one step further. They’re not talking about you because your story is boring.
What is business storytelling?
Once upon a time, long, long ago…. Not quite. Business storytelling, whether used by large corporates, or start up micro businesses is a content marketing tactic.
It enables your business to talk about, and sell, products or services. It does this by helping an audience to notice you, and engage with you.
Think of it as the 1990’s elevator pitch, on steroids. According to Wikipedia the elevator pitch was originally devised to communicate a business’ value proposition in 30 seconds. In other words, the promise of the value you’d deliver. Fast forward to 2016 and you need to amplify that pitch, with authentic storytelling.
Kate Southon, Head of Design at VMS explains: “Authentic storytelling enables every business owner to tap into the emotions of potential customers, to communicate why they matter, and to make a meaningful connection”.
At VMS we’re practiced in the art of business storytelling, so we have created this roadmap to help you if you’re new to it…
1 // Story problem
What’s the problem that you are trying to solve?
2 // Story solution
What’s the solution that will fix the problem? What are the benefits of the solution to the audience?
3 // The back story
What was happening before the story began? Set the scene a little.
4 // Story goal
What do we want people to do as a result of this story?
5 // Story consequence
What is the consequence of not achieving the goal? Make them clear, people have to be able to relate to these!
6 // Story fore warnings
What are the signs that would allow people to relate to this story? This could include story obstacle characters or things that would get in the way of the story solution.
7 // Story limit
What is the time frame, or urgency to act? An event that you want to avoid, or eventuality you want to avoid. A physical event or a clock ticking scenario. Why would people act, why should they care? Why now? Additional benefits to acting now instead of waiting?
8 // What’s the main character concern?
What emotional and rational concerns are at the heart of the story? Find hooks that will resonate with the target audience so they act.
9 // Obstacle character concerns
What is currently preventing your audience from taking action?
Remember, your story has to do one of three things:
- Leave the reader with a lasting thought
- Encourage them to do something
- Change the way they think
Need help crafting your business story? Talk to us today.
If you make an emotional connection through your content you will galvanise action. You will move people to act and do something!
We can’t help but love the story of Amanda Palmer. The unknown musician who back in 2012 had a stalled album under her belt, and had parted ways with her record label. Instead of continuing down the traditional music industry track, she garnered the support of fans via Kickstarter, and raised £1.2million through the re-launch of her album and donations. She even went on to present a TED talk about her experience.
What’s most interesting though is that she didn’t out and out ask for money. She didn’t say ‘buy my album’. Instead she told an incredibly heartfelt and authentic story.
Kate says: “The fact is that we Brits absolutely love small business, and if we can support local first over national brands then we do. Added to that there is a strong perception that small businesses offer higher-quality products and services compared to larger competitors. If you’re the owner of an SME business, this is a huge benefit because it means that many customers prefer to do business with you and will bypass a competitor to reach you”.
“The difficulty comes in being seen. You have to do something to stand out so that you’re visible. That’s why it’s so encouraging to see more and more SMEs exploiting storytelling and content marketing for lead generation and business growth. Winning customers’ trust and gaining visibility over their competitors. But to be really successful we advise our clients to also begin to think of themselves as publishers. They must craft really compelling stories…not simply regurgitate eye-glazing content”.
Let’s craft your story. Get in touch today.
Don’t forget about tone of voice!
If your mum used to say, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it”, she was right. Think about the words you choose, as well as their order, rhythm and pace.
Your tone of voice embodies and expresses personality, and your company’s set of values. It sets you apart from the rest, puts customers at ease and can be used to influence and persuade.
Avoid Lazy Language
Don’t lapse into clichéd communication styles. This makes your story sound inauthentic.
To discover more about the benefits of business storytelling, and why it’s so vital to Google search read our recent blog – Online Marketing; no longer all about SEO.
- Read more about Amanda Palmer