How to Tell a Compelling Business Story
You’ve probably heard or seen article headlines or discussion, including this one, about telling your story. But what does storytelling really mean, especially in business? Do you start from business inception and take prospects through the decades? Are you thinking you do that already? Or this storytelling buzz is a marketing trend that will fizzle out next year.
Published research demonstrates that a Goodwill story lights up the brain. In fact, Paul J. Zak a neuroscientist provides insight and states that “in order to motivate a desire to help others, a story must first sustain attention – a scarce resource in the brain – by developing tension during the narrative. If the story is able to create that tension, then it is likely that attentive viewers/listeners will come to share the emotions of the characters in it, and after it ends, likely to continue mimicking the feelings and behaviors of those characters.”
Think about a recent compelling presentation you watched or listened to. What is it about that session that kept your attention?
Steve Jobs was an expert at storytelling. He would frame his presentation around how a new product was going to change your life. In 2001 (20 years ago!), during a product launch, he outlined the limitations of portable music. Clunky devices, formats and the number of songs restraint. He built tension (frustration) then demonstrated “1,000 songs in your pocket.” And iPod was launched.
He opened with an attention-getting story that the audience related to creating a human connection.
“Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” – Roger Schank, PhD
Let’s begin the storytelling journey.
When you’re thinking about your story or your company’s story, ask yourself these questions:
- Who’s the hero?
- How is the hero’s life different?
- And what is the hero going to do with their newly found time, money, or happiness?
That’s it. Easy right? But 95% of the time when I ask the question of print service providers, “who is the hero of their story?" the responses I receive are “my product” or “my service.” You know, “it solves my customers’ problems.”
Ok. Let’s try this again. Who is the hero? The hero of your story is always a human. This human may be your customer, your partner or the end user. But always a human, not a concept or product.
Your brand is not the hero.
Whenever writing for storytelling, or any writing for that matter, be clear and concise. Be focused. Remember less is more.
When telling your story determine what the hero of the story needs. Is the holiday season upon them and they are anxious about delivering a product before the end of the year? If that’s their need, provide information that will help your customer. Don’t include information about your new press, product features that are coming in Q3 or the fact that you can print on any device. This information is a distraction that may lead your customer to continue their search.
In Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller’s subtitle “Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” is a good segue for outlining where to begin your storytelling development.
As part of that process review your website, a brochure, direct mail piece, blog, or email. Can your customers answer these three questions?
- What do you offer?
- How will it make my life easier?
- What do I need to do to buy it?
Good for you and your marketing team if you answered yes to all three questions. For most of us, when we start this review process, at least one question is challenging to answer.
Ready to get started on your storytelling journey? Next week I’ll share a framework to help you get started.
Leave a comment, share the post, visit my website www.KimberlyMeyers.com or call me direct 646.320.8854 for more information. Let’s connect.
Kimberly Meyers is the principal at Kimberly Meyers & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. Kimberly is a Marketing VP for hire. She develops marketing solutions based on strategic assessment of her client’s business, sales and marketing requirements. She lives by the philosophy of ensuring the appropriate message and content is delivered to the target audience – always, focusing on customer needs and satisfaction. Kimberly welcomes your connection at firstname.lastname@example.org.