Why is it so hard to tell a business story? Because you can’t stop selling. There, I led with the punchline.
You’re trying to sell your products, services and ideas. That’s fair. But in order to get people to hear and remember you–to get your sales and marketing efforts to stick— engage in more storytelling and less selling.
Here’s how to move your communications to the next level with the art of storytelling. First, know what a story is. It’s the why, how and examples that showcase why your products are better than anyone else’s offerings.
A message simply states what you want people to know. Think of it like the conclusion of the story. You should definitely have messages. The story, however, gives life to your messaging. It leads up to that conclusion.
Stories have characters, a plot, conflict and resolution, a beginning, middle and end, and they leave the reader or viewer with something that makes their lives better or helps them feel connected in some way.
So, who are you characters? That one should be easy. Your customers, your employees and other stakeholders are all characters. What have they done with your company? (Big hint about storytelling: what do people like to hear about more than anything else? Something about themselves.)
What is the plot? This goes beyond “Customer A” bought “Company B’s” product and all was well. But what happened when “Customer A” really started to use the product? How is their life better? In fact, talk about how you identified the problem they needed solved to begin with. What conflict existed to get your product into their hands? Once they started using what you offer did the heavens open up and angels sing? Okay, that last question was a tad dramatic, but you get the point.
Be sure to organize your story logically, starting at the beginning (we had this great idea!), providing a middle (all was almost lost!) and end (we made it!). Ask yourself how did you identify there was a need for your product? Then what did you do to bring it to market? And how did you get it into customer’s hands? What did they experience once that happened?
Avoid the temptation of cramming in every virtue of your business and tell the story–the real story.