Stories play a role in everyone’s life, enabling us to learn, evolve and connect with others. They are a powerful communication tool used in every part of society – and business is no exception. In the words of Miri Rodriguez: “A story is not just a story, it’s a strategy to connect with your business and your customers.”
To be successful in today’s society, your brand must have a story to tell. Something that brings humanity to your business, enables your audience to connect with you, and most importantly, gives people a reason to want to do business with you. Brand storytelling is no longer just a nice to have, but a need to have. Here are five tips to help make yours a success.
Start with why
Everyone and their mother has seen Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’ Ted Talk, and there’s a reason it’s so popular: it works. At the end of the day, there are thousands of companies offering the same ‘what’, so if someone chooses to do business with you, it’s likely as a result of your ‘why’. This is something that is unique to your business and cannot be imitated by your competitors; it’s your defining trait, the thing that will help you to cut through the noise of a crowded market. So, don’t be afraid to share it.
Think about why your business exists; your mission, vision, purpose and values. Show your audience what you care about and give them a reason to care about it, too.
Know your audience
There’s a reason so many people struggle to hold meaningful conversations with strangers: they know nothing about them. For your communications to be effective, you need to know who you are speaking to; their likes and dislikes, interests and needs. You need to arm yourself with a best friend level of knowledge. Stop seeing your customers as a business opportunity and start viewing them as what they are: people.
To truly immerse your audience in your story, it needs to be relatable. They need to feel personally connected to it in some way. This means making them a part of your story and giving them a reason to listen. If you’re solving a common issue faced by your target audience, make that explicit. Tell them how and why you are going to help them. Ultimately, you need to be telling your story in a way that enables your audience to envision themselves working with you. It needs to be relevant.
Make it personal
If you want to build meaningful relationships with your audience, there needs to be a level of trust and understanding from both parties. While your market research may reveal everything you need to know about your audience, if they don’t have a clear understanding of who you are, it’s unlikely you will be able to build relationships that will lead to the acquisition of loyal, lifelong customers.
To overcome this issue, you need to get personal. To be successful, you must be authentic; people need to know you’re telling your story. You should be open, honest and above all, show some humanity. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. You need to show your audience that you are more than just a faceless corporation because, ultimately, people want to do business with people. If you tell your story in a way that allows your audience to relate to and understand you, you won’t go far wrong.
Never shy away from conflict
While conflict is often considered a negative thing, when it comes to creating a powerful story, it’s essential. This doesn’t mean sharing the time you had a punch-up at the pub or ranting about your nightmare neighbours; in this context, your conflict should be a challenge your business has faced (and successfully overcome). After all, people can’t relate to perfection. By showing how you’ve overcome struggles, you will be demonstrating resilience and willingness to take on new challenges. This will allow your audience will relate to you on a much deeper level.
Conflict creates drama and takes your audience on the emotional journey that’s needed to truly engage and inspire them. At the end of the day, the more open and honest you are, the more people will be able to trust, respect and relate to your brand.
Share your solution
Remember, every story should have a beginning, middle and end. We’ve touched on this above, but if you are starting with a problem, you need to provide a solution. Tell your audience how you solved the problem; show the actions you took and who was involved. Remember, actions speak louder than words, so putting things into context will help to build trust and respect for your brand.
Lastly, you can move on to your ending. Share your happily ever after. Get your audience as excited about your successes as you are. Make them feel like they are part of your story.
Now you know what makes a great story, why not check out our blog post here to discover exactly why your business should embrace storytelling. Remember: while storytelling may be ancient, its value will always remain timeless.