What’s your story? We aren’t asking you about your personal narrative, rather your business one. If you don’t know what we’re asking you, it’s time you do a bit of research. Storytelling is big in business and it’s what could put you over the edge when it comes to your competition.
Take a moment to Google “business storytelling.” You are going to be surprised at the number of results that come back. Everyone has something to say about it these days. It’s not a new concept, but it’s gaining new momentum and people are jumping aboard. Let’s talk a little bit about storytelling for your small business.
Everyone Is a Storyteller
You may not know it, but you are already telling a story. Your business card may not say “Once upon a time…” and your blog may not end with “…happily ever after,” but you’re telling a story with each word you type, every product picture you put out to the public and every social media post you comment on.
Business storytelling is simply this: presenting your message to your customer base or audience. That’s it. It’s the way that meaning is interpreted by the people you are reaching, either intentionally or unintentionally. Once you are aware that you are telling a story almost constantly, you become more aware of what you are putting out there. You start to think about your audience, your message and why it all matters.
Marketing and the Story
If you have been in business for any length of time, you probably know that marketing trends change with time. Sometimes it takes a bit before people head down a new path, and at other times thinking changes rapidly.
Current marketing trends tell us that there is an emotional component that must be considered. People are more likely to support your business if they know it and you. They want to connect with your company and your product. They are tired of being fed fact after fact without being engaged in some way.
Storytelling is a craft. Think of those brands that have generated extreme loyalty: Apple, Coca-Cola and even McDonald’s. These companies haven’t worked any kind of witchery in your mind; they have simply and subtly told a great story that has captivated their audience and made them loyal.
Tips for Creating Your Own Story
If you’re that type of person who loves outlines and formulas, you may be a bit disappointed. There is no formula or outline for your story. It is an organic thing that can’t be pinned down. What we can do, however, is provide you with some food for thought. Here are some questions and basics to help you get started in at least thinking about what your story should be.
Your Mission Statement
If you don’t have a mission statement, you should create one as soon as possible. How are you going to change the world? Your product or service benefits people so tell them how. According to Forbes, there is a difference between the mission statements of Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and it matters.
Pepsi’s mission statement starts with “As one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world…”, while Coca-Cola’s starts with “To refresh the world…”. Do you see? Coca-Cola consistently wins when it comes to the rivalry between the two companies, because they start with the “why” of what they do.
Figure Out Why It Matters
You believe that your product or service is better than what your competitor offers, so tell your audience why. A good tip is to think of this opportunity as a show-and-tell. Keep it simple. Bounce some thoughts off of family and friends and see what touches them. Chances are that those same things will touch a wider audience as well.
You’re going to be tempted to embellish what you say in order to shine your company in the best light. Don’t. People want the truth and they are more likely to spend their money with you if they feel as though you are being honest and have integrity. You can present your story from a different angle, but don’t make it bigger than it is.
Don’t Get Distracted
You want to hone in on a target. In other words, follow your mission. Decide who you are targeting and talk about what’s important. Don’t throw everything up in the air. Stay focused and don’t go off track.
If you are the type of person that starts a sentence with “This may not be right…”, or “This is probably a bad idea…”, stop. It’s not only self-defeating, but it can cause you to lose out on a great idea. Explore your thoughts and see where they go. Sure, .it may be a bad idea. But it could also be a great one.
Give It Another Try
People rarely do things perfectly on the first try. The process of putting together your story and making it a great one takes practice. You’re going to be put through a period of trial and error and you should welcome it. If you find yourself hating all that you’ve come up with and feeling like starting over, you’re normal. Chances are good that what you’ve come up with is at least decent. Take it and see where it goes.
Creating your story isn’t an easy process, but it is an important one. The audience you have today is different than the one you had five years ago and they are looking for different things. Creating a solid and impelling story will put you above your competition. That’s your goal.
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Knowing your story and telling it well is only one part of small business marketing. At Company.com, we have the tools and resources you need to help your small business thrive. Contact us today to start your risk-free account, and to learn how we can help your small business have a “happily ever after.”