Once Upon a Brand: Learning the Art of Business Storytelling
Your business’s story can entice people to buy from you. Storytelling can draw customers in, hook them, and make them empathize with you. A good story can make people trust your business and build brand awareness. You therefore need to know how to tell your business’s story effectively.
At my business, Patriot Software, our story started in the basement of a factory. There was no heat and no air conditioning. The floors would flood. Instead of customers, we had rats, birds, flies, and snakes! We ran out of money, maxed out our credit cards, and borrowed from our relatives.
Patriot doesn’t have the prettiest beginning to its story, but our story is truthful. Many of our small business customers like our honest, raw story. Many of them can even relate to our early days. When they hear our story, they understand why we do what we do and know that we understand their needs.
You need to know your business’s story so you too can connect with customers. And as the owner, you need to be an expert in business storytelling.
Tips for business storytelling
Use the following business storytelling tips to perfect your brand story:
1. Determine your focus
Your business story must have a clear focus. If it doesn’t, you will ramble, tell irrelevant tidbits, and lose clarity. As a result, you will lose the attention of your customers.
To keep your focus, determine why you are telling your business story and whom you are telling it to. Answering these questions might help you stay on track:
- Why are you telling the story?
- When and where does the story take place?
- Who is in the story?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What challenges did you face?
- How does your business’s past relate to your business’s present?
Based on your answers, form your business story. Write it down, cross parts out, and add things back in. Carefully shape your story so it accurately reflects your business and goals. Think about how your story will hook listeners and make them trust you.
2. Be authentic
To gain your customers’ trust, you need to be authentic. Don’t tell hyperbole in your business story—and don’t make up details. Customers will know when you are over the top, and your exaggerations will turn them away.
Your business doesn’t have to have a long history or a dramatic startup. You didn’t have to start your business in the dank basement of a factory, but you can still tell your story. You have a reason you started your business. You have a business vision. There is something you are passionate about and a reason why. Tell this to your customers.
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3. Be consistent
You should consistently tell your business’s story. You shouldn’t make big changes, such as adding or removing large chunks of information. You also shouldn’t change your focus. And, you should make sure the story is clear and organized.
Practice telling your business’s story. You can try repeating your story to family members and friends, and tell your story to customers as often as possible. Internalize your story and practice it until it becomes natural.
4. Have an end goal
Remember, there should be a reason you are telling your business story. You must have a goal, or an expected end result, for telling your story.
Your story should leave your audience with something. Your story is essentially business marketing. You might share a lesson that you learned from forming your business. Or, you might create actionable points that inspire customers to make a purchase or do something else. Make sure your story is shaped in a way that meets your storytelling goals.
Test your story. If you notice that your business’s story isn’t getting the results you wanted, then you might want to adjust it to get better results. For example, you might adjust the order you tell your story in so you can better focus on a certain part. Just remember to be truthful as you adjust your story.
Business storytelling is an ongoing process. Your business will grow and change. And, as your business changes, so should your story.