What is business storytelling?

Storytelling may not sound like it has much to do with business but if you think about it, everything you do has a story behind it. Business storytelling is about bringing out these stories and using them to let people know who you are, what you do and why.

A photo of a bakery. A bakery. Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

How can you use stories in your business?

There are many stories you can use in your business to help customers and let them get to know you. Stories are about people. They can be about pets and inanimate objects too (you might have a mascot, for instance) but stories are always about people, even if we’re projecting human qualities on non-human things. 

Because stories are about people, we relate to the things we’re being told about. We put ourselves somewhere in the narrative. We might be at the heart of the story or we might be standing on the sidelines, observing. Making your story relevant to the person you are telling it to is key to it being well-received.

And because stories are about people they also involve emotion. Your story should make the listener, watcher or reader feel something. It could be pride, or sympathy, longing or excitement. Your stories can provoke a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). They can also show people that others feel the same way as them. 

Here are some ideas for stories you can create:

How we solved a problem

People respond to helpful content so make that your starting point. It is instantly relevant to their situation because they are struggling with the same thing. 

An easy story to tell which enables your audience to put themselves in the shoes of one of your characters is how you solved a problem. Describe a challenge and how you came up with a solution. 

Problems create the reason why things exist. That ‘why’ is important to you and your business and your customers want to hear about it.

What led to you coming up with your product or service? Did you solve a problem for a customer? Or did you work out the solution to something which had been a particular issue for your industry for decades?

A problem-solving story could also cover a logistical issue, or your excellent customer service to help someone out. Did you manage to get someone somewhere they needed to be when all the odds were against them? Or did you do something to make a dream come true? Perhaps you did something which helped another business win a contract or saved them lots of money.

Your products and services help people do something every day. Tell the story of those problems and how they couldn’t have been overcome without you.

Tell people how to do something

“How do I…” and “How to…” are the start of many a search engine query. From DIY to hairstyles, make-up tips and business processes, search engines deal with a constant stream of queries about how to do things.

What can you help people learn how to do? Put together a guide to the most common things you get asked about. Think around your product or service and come up with a list of things people might want to know. You can then come up with an article or write out step-by-step instructions or create a video walking them through it.

A make-up artist at work. Photo by Fernanda Prado on Unsplash

Go behind the scenes

People buy from people and they like to get to know who is behind the business they are dealing with. Tell stories about company life. Who is on your team? What do they do? What is a day in the life of your business like?

Stories don’t need to be long blog posts. They can be snapshots. Share pictures and short videos on social media. Show people what you’re getting up to. Give them an insight into what it is like to do your job and what’s involved in creating the product or service you provide.

Customer journeys

What happens once your product is delivered? What is it used for? Whether you create microchips, drill bits or make luggage, those products all go on somewhere and become part of people’s lives. What did the microchip go into and how is it helping someone? What is being built with the drill? Where did the luggage go? What adventures has its new owner been on?

Again, these stories don’t have to be huge tomes. They can be short and playful. They create an image of your brand. Your customers can be part of your story too. What will they do with what you make? Where will they take it or where will it take them?

Business storytelling gives you the opportunity to explore your ‘why’ and build interest in your brand and what you have to offer. 

Stories can be told in lots of different ways. You can have a mix of testimonials, case studies, blog posts, pictures, and videos. Storytelling can take place on your website, a blogging platform or your social media. Your stories are important. Make sure you tell them.

Rachel Extance (photo by Jemima Willcox)

Rachel Extance helps business tell their stories so they can reach a wider audience for their work and ideas. A professional journalist, she knows how to write stories people find relevant and engaging. If you would like help to get your message across, need someone who can write articles for you regularly, or you would like actionable ideas for how to tell more people about what you do, get in touch by emailing rachel@extance.co.uk or contact her on social media.

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