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Have you heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” Storytelling is worth even more because it can become the heart of a business. It’s an irreplaceable way of connecting with an audience, building trust and delivering consistent messaging, provided that it’s memorable, engaging and informative. Stories are simply more effective than a list of facts or statistics — however accurate they may be — because told well, they engage multidimensionally — put people at their center and open their imagination. With them, it’s possible to build long-term and meaningful relationships by sharing a passion for your business.
1. Forging emotional connections
The number-one problem I see with online businesses that rely on, say, perks alone is that their products and services tend to not speak to customers on a deeper level. Of course, you can offer perks at varying levels, but storytelling establishes a more profound emotional connection between customers and a brand. A classic example of this is the first iPhone. Steve Jobs famously said that he built “toys to life” experiences, and he did… took a fantastic product and used storytelling to get people to recognize what they were missing out on by not having one. And even though that sector of Apple’s business is more than a decade old, the emotional connection that customers feel to their iPhones remains solid.
2. Brand narratives that stand out
Why do people even bother trying to start a business, when we live in a world so full of “get rich quick” schemes? Of course, there could be many answers to this question. Most likely, the reason you started yours was deeper than simply wanting money, or simply to make something, given that it takes so much effort, knowledge, courage, dedication and perseverance to turn that vision into a reality.
Perhaps a better question to ask is, “Do you believe in your vision, mission and the value of your products and services?” If the answer is “Yes,” it’s essential to then capture your “Why?” — the story behind your journey, product or service — to develop a winning brand narrative.
When you create an exciting and consistent story that explains why your company is unique, it makes you stand out from others in the industry. It also helps customers understand how your business works, and in turn how you can help them (what benefit they will receive). This “Why?” is the key to converting customers into long-term relationships.
3. Share a story of service, not of selling
Narratives are powerful because people can relate to them on a human level, so use them to help your audience connect. Data is cold and detached; storytelling is warm and inviting.
With a thoughtful brand narrative, you build a level of credibility in an audience, then the task becomes showing its members how you’ll solve their problems and change their lives for the better. They’ll make better decisions if you share relatable stories, which will break down mistrust and/or apprehension. Trust makes consumers buy.
4. Inspiring employees and other team members to excel
Storytelling also boosts efforts at creating a positive organizational culture. The most crucial part of your job as a leader is to inspire employees to perform beyond their current capacities. To do this, you need to connect with them on a human level. Listen to them, be curious about them and make an effort to understand them, all of which will forge connections.
Once you have that broad understanding, share your message with team members using a personal story(ies) that shows how you have overcome a challenge or a similarly memorable moment when your company has succeeded. Whatever you do, stick to the facts, and avoid embellishment. This approach will create a sense of belonging that will make employees feel like they are working for a better future, not just a paycheck.
5. Solidifying online visibility
Storytelling should be the focus of effective social media content. (Without solid content strategies and creative execution of them, a brand’s efforts could get wasted.) In the world of social media, innumerable amounts of content bombard people every day, so make sure yours is valuable — have something unique to say to get an audience’s attention.
Stories make your brand more human, and yours should relate thoughts, feelings, ideas, experiences, desires and even failures, so when people read them, there’s a likelihood of them experiencing new insights about themselves, leading to an even deeper connection.
The most important thing you can to advance this process for yourself is simply to get started. Your story can be about anything from how you got your early business footing to fascinating product histories, and can be told in words, pictures, music, animation, video, even through a series of memes!