Does a company need to send out soulless and boring content to be professional? On the contrary: All the content and the story give a business its life.
A business’ story … how abstract a concept is that? Are we talking fairytales or spinning a yarn, telling tales around the campfire? Nope. A business’ purpose with its story is credibility, understanding and loyalty, not fiction or fancy. “It’s about how your products or services exist in the world. It’s who you are and what you do for others–how you add value to people’s lives, ease their troubles, meet their needs. A compelling brand story gives your audience a way to connect with you, one person to another, and to view your business as what it is: a living, breathing entity run by real people offering real value. In that way, your content is not ‘storytelling’ at all–it’s simply telling what’s true, and telling it well.” writes Ann Handley of Entrepreneur.
Storytelling is an ancient art with a science to it. There is a story in everything, be it ancient archaeology to movie making. Stories always have a purpose. How does the story work when talking about business? What is it about the story that makes the impact, the true difference?
Storytelling is the fundamental human activity. Even talking to ourselves has purpose. (Though I recommend you do not do this in a public place. Avoid getting odd looks that way.) “Storytelling is not about the language itself, it’s about telling and creating stories in a compelling way. It’s about finding the right metaphors, and above all the structure in which to tell a story. In doing so, the storyteller re-creates a part of life and generates a story that is easily remembered and unique to that particular brand,” explains J-P De Clerk of i-scoop.
“So how do you pull stories out of your organization and tell them in a way that relates to your customer?” asks Handley.
I Want the Truth!
Truth is your cornerstone of every piece of content you write for your business. Feature real people, genuine emotions, real situations, and facts. Show, not tell. How your company adds value to your customers’ lives should be explained in terms people can relate to.
Business to customer or business to business, your products and services are for actual people. How do your products and services touch their lives?
What is important about your company? What is interesting and unique? Give fresh perspectives.
“DMV customer #835, a person will talk to you now.”
Groan. Think DMV-antithesis. The right story serves the customer. If you spew out indulgent corporate-centric babble, you are going the wrong way. “The reader doesn’t turn the page because of a hunger to applaud,” advised writing teacher Don Murray. This perspective applies to everything you produce including video, audio, or slideshows.
Where To Begin, Where To Begin
Here is a list from Handley:
- What is unique about your business?
- What is interesting about how it was founded? About the founder?
- What problem is your company trying to solve?
- What inspired the business?
- What “aha” moments have you had?
- How has your business evolved?
- What’s a nonobvious way to tell your story? Can you look to analogy instead of example?
- What about your business that you consider normal and mundane would other folks think is cool?
Applying Your Story In Your Marketing
From De Clerk:
- What is the story and narrative behind everything you do as a brand, ranging from what you stand for to the reason why you developed solution X or decided to support ‘good cause Y’? How can you get to that story that’s part of your brand and even people’s DNA instead of to just the facts?
- How do you actually connect with people in the language they understand best: the language they can “visualize” in a story-like context? And – even further – how do you ‘create’ the stories that will cause a change in behavior or a change of perception?
- What types of stories appeal to your content marketing “audience” or – if you want to stay closer to the art of storytelling and human emotions – the different archetypes Jung developed based on his deep psychological insights and…ancient stories?
- What about the stories your customers and audiences are already telling? How do you listen to those and include them? How can you even come to some form of collaborative storytelling that goes far beyond any reach or goal you imagined?
- How much ‘control’ can you realistically have in an age where the value of a brand increasingly is in the eye of the beholder and their social connections? Where perception is more about personality, trust, openness, transparency, relevance and participation? About standing for something as a brand and voicing it in an utterly customer-centric, yet genuine and firm way? How can storytelling – with these shifts in mind – place brands in the minds, hearts and wallets of people? Or in other words: do consumers create stories and brands?
- How can you use storytelling in genuine ways and in a more demand generation related context? Are there any differences? Do the same principles apply?
“The challenge is in figuring out how to share that story in a way that aligns with the needs and priorities of prospects and customers. But, it’s not just sharing the story. It’s about making the story so compelling that it elevates perceptions of value and urgency resulting in more qualified leads and faster purchasing momentum.” From Lee Odden quoting B2B – content – marketing expert Ardath Albee in a post on storytelling, positioning & personas.
The need for you and your business to tell your story is as basic as the need for one person to connect to another. It is the way you build relationships. It is unique. It is true. It meets people’s needs in a compelling way. It should be a part of everything you send out, from internal documents to a digital ad showing on the other side of the world.
How much “soul” does your business have?
Images and Content Sources: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232069 and http://www.i-scoop.eu/art-storytelling-6-content-marketing-context-questions/