16 Nov Six tips to telling a better business story
If you believe the hype, storytelling is the new must-have business skill. Just search “Business Storytelling” to see that everybody out there seems to have advice on the topic. TED talks and online articles from every corner of the internet promise to help. It’s true – storytelling really is the best way to talk about your business, and it’s also well within your grasp.
The manual labor of business storytelling
Storytelling is not just pulling on heartstrings. It’s also concrete and analytical, and it’s the simplest way to connect with your customers. At Modicum, we constantly wrestle with helping our clients tell stories. Even when we’re hired for a project that seems fairly straightforward, like designing a presentation or website, we are forced to address bigger questions. Who is the audience? What is the essential message? What details are most compelling? Why does it matter? We do our best work when we have a solid grip on our client’s story.
The marketing revolution is upon us
The great shift in current marketing thinking is the awareness that an emotional connection is the most powerful way to sell. Reason only goes so far. Storytelling generates emotional connection and the loyalty and excitement that follow close behind. A complete narrative is far more engaging than a set of facts. Further, millennials expect authenticity and meaning from businesses, and a solid story is the way to communicate those things.
Why storytelling works
Storytelling stimulates our brains more intensely by making a connection with our emotions. In the same way that song lyrics are easier to remember than, say, an annual report, storytelling essentially adds “music” to underscore information. With that “music” comes empathy, perspective and engagement. This commercial from Always is a great example.
Coca-Cola is a master of selling an experience and generating brand loyalty that transcends the products themselves. With some practice and sound thinking, anyone can put a more compelling story of oneself or one’s business out in the world.
How to tell a better business story
There is no exact formula to tell a story, but there are basic pillars that will help you move in the right direction:
1. Think about your mission statement
Don’t have one? Then write one. Your mission statement should directly state how you want to change the world. Yes, it should be that big no matter the size of what you are selling. Think about how you will ultimately benefit people. Coca-Cola’s mission statement is “To refresh the world…To inspire moments of optimism and happiness…To create value and make a difference.” This mission statement is just one carefully crafted component of how Coke has made itself such an iconic brand. Need more examples? Try here.
2. Ask why your product or service matters
Are you saving the environment? Is your product smarter, cheaper, or better made than the competition? Think of this as the kindergarten show-and-tell moment. What you do may be complex, but some part of your story is simple and accessible. Every company does something interesting – you just have to do the work to find the best way to translate your selling points into words. Talk about your company to your friends and see what holds their attention. Then, focus on that.
3. Tell the truth
Resist the temptation to embellish. Truth does make the most compelling, lasting story. If you’re stuck, always try a different angle rather than bending the facts.
4. Stick to your mission
Beware of distraction. Resist the urge to do “a bit of everything” and instead, make sure that everything you communicate leads back to your mission. In the fragmented state of marketing, you can’t just throw things onto a wall and see what sticks. Religiously following your mission will keep you focused and efficient.
5. Be bold
Get opinions from people you trust, but avoid consensus by committee, which reliably dulls the edges of your story. Be bold and vulnerable even if it’s scary. It’s always best to tap into what is most yourself. Our best ideas often come accompanied by the disclaimer, “This may be a bad idea, but…” And while there are bad ideas, they are often the stepping stones to great ideas.
6. Practice, practice, practice
You’re not going to get it right and refined on the first try. The process of solidifying and polishing your story takes time for trial and error. As with any project that involves building something from nothing, there will be a moment (or multiple moments) during the process where you hate what you’ve done and want to throw it out and start over. Know that this is normal. Most of the time, you will be surprised by where these ideas lead you.
Finding and executing your story
Building a brand story can be overwhelming. Whether you’re starting from scratch, wanting to refine an already established story, or you’re stuck anywhere along the pipeline, we can help. Content marketers at Modicum know how to define what makes you different and how to share those differentiators with your audience in an engaging way.