To tell an effective business story, there are a few things you need to know in order to get started.
Why Do You Need to Tell a Story?
Inbound marketing focuses on empowering your potential customers, building a lasting relationship with your audience, and creating valuable content that entertains and educates. One of the best ways to do all of those things is to create stories that engage your targeted audience.
Chances are your audience is researching you. You want to advertise them without interrupting their lives. Business storytelling can help your company get your message across and advertise your product without being imposing. Your story should engage and attract your audience. You want to motivate your audience to learn more about your company.
Stories are everywhere and they can help create valuable connections. Business storytelling aligns your company’s mission and values with your targeted audience.
What Do You Need to Tell an Effective Business Story?
You need a strong mission with supporting values to tell your brand’s story. You want to ask yourself these three questions: Why, How, and What.
- Why is your brand doing what they’re doing?
- How will your brand’s product/service help your audience?
- What is your brand offering?
Constructing the framework of your story starts by answering those three questions. You want your answers to the “why” and “how” questions to affect the emotions of your targeted audience. You want your mission to be one of the qualities that attract your prospective customers.
Essential Elements of Business Storytelling
The three essential elements of storytelling are the same essential elements you need for good business storytelling. They're also simple:
All stories have characters. Actually, you can’t have a story without any characters. As such, you want to start your story by introducing the characters. The characters are going to be the connection between you and your audience.
You want your potential customers to be able to imagine themselves as the characters in your story. In order to do that you have to take a look at your buyer personas and figure out what goals and challenges they could potentially face. Than, carry that information over into constructing the characters of your story.
For example, you might preface a blog post with a statement like, “You’ve been searching online for the best project management software for your company.”
In this case, the main character, or protagonist, is an executive or employee looking for a project management solution for their company. If you’re audience fits this description, they now have a stake in the story you’re telling and may be more compelled to read on. If it just so happens that your company provides project management software, you can offer that character a solution to their problem later on.
After introducing your characters, you want to introduce the problem or conflict the character is facing. The conflict should be what is resolved by your company’s product or services.
The conflict is essential to the story because it’s what makes the story compelling and meaningful. Without conflict, your company would just be pitching their product. You want your targeted audience to be able to learn from your characters’ challenges throughout the story. Your brand is going to teach the character how to resolve their conflict.
If we use the previous example from above, you could add the following to include conflict: “You’ve been searching online for the best project management software for your company, but the deadline approaches and every product you’ve found so far is either too complicated or too expensive.”
Now, the character is engaged in a conflict: An approaching deadline, and no valid solution in sight. If your reader is experiencing the same problem, they may want to finish your story to see how it can be resolved.
The resolution is essentially your brand’s product or service. You want to use the resolution to call your audience to take action after what they’ve learned from your story. The resolution fulfills the purpose of telling your story.
Going along with the same example, your resolution could read, “What you need is a project management software that’s affordable, customizable, and easy for everyone at your company to use.” If your product is project management software, you’re in a good position to help resolve your audience's problem. Notice how there’s no plug for your product (not yet, anyway).
Your story should promote your brand without sounding like a sales pitch. Your resolution should help convert your prospects into leads.
Business Storytelling Best Practices
1. Your story should contain content that creates an emotional appeal to your targeted audience.
Emotion is what gives your story power.
According to HubSpot, “stories are recognizable patterns and we use them to find meaning in the world around us”.
Your brand’s story should help your prospects and customers find meaning in your product. It should help in the attract and convert stages of the inbound methodology. By the end of the story, you want the audience to choose to support your brand and purchase your product or service.
2. Keep your story consistent with your brand’s mission and values.
It should be an authentic representation of your brand.
Telling a truthful story that aligns with your company’s values will help build a relationship with your potential customers. Telling the truth creates trust between you and your audience. Trust is essential if you want your brand to be successful.
Make the truth of your brand’s story interesting and engaging. Tell it in a way that effectively draws your audience in.
3. Keep your story clear and concise.
Although you’re telling a story, it doesn’t have to be as long as a Harry Potter book. Short stories are the best option for business storytelling. You can only captivate your audience’s attention for so long before they stop reading.
Add in just enough details to capture the essence of your story and keep your prospects engaged. Any story can benefit from getting a little trim here and there.
4. Make sure to spread the word.
Marketing your story is crucial to the success of your company. The way you tell your story should be consistent across your content marketing platforms. Consistency is key in gaining the trust of your targeted audience.
Your content marketing should be customized for each platform, however all of your marketing should tie back to the core values of your story.
It’s important that you tell your brand’s story effectively in order to increase connections between you, your prospects, and your customers. The shape of your story should appeal to the emotions of your targeted audience.
The core values of your company should be represented through your story in order to explain to your audience the why, how, and what questions. Why is your company doing what they are doing? How will your brand’s products and services help your audience? And finally, what is your company offering?
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