Business storytelling is storytelling with a purpose to establish a professional connection or to achieve a goal. Storytelling is an essential aspect of human life, and it plays an equally important role in business. You may have heard business storytelling during a pep talk by your CEO or maybe one of your colleagues who is winning an award. Storytelling has become an essential aspect of the business.
Even the salesperson will tell a story to his client to get the deal. Storytelling in business has become an integral part and is gaining importance to keep the audience from losing attention.
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Importance of storytelling
Imagine that you’re trying to convince your team members about the new strategy or you trying to sell a new product to a new client. You can always go by the conventional method and start by telling the advantages of a particular strategy or a product. These old ways, although useful, or not as beneficial and captivating as storytelling. Your employees are bound to lose their attention, or your clients are going to get bored with the technical talk. Storytelling introduces a casual aspect and which captures the attention of the intended audience.
Giving examples to convince your listener is a good practice. But the storytelling world narrates the experience to the listener, which is even more effective than merely giving examples. Storytelling also invites the listener for a more in-depth conversation to establish a meaningful connection. You can then leverage that connection for your benefit. Imagine that your company’s CEO merely is narrating a presentation and explaining why the new product is important for the market. It can get exhausting.
On the other hand, telling a story captures the audience’s attention, and the CEO can make his point without people losing focus. Storytelling is what salt is to food. It yields excellent results in small concentrations, but if used too much, it can ruin the entire experience. Care should be taken that you don’t exaggerate the story and make it a fantastic experience. This will defeat the whole purpose of storytelling in business.
The following are a few important reasons to incorporate storytelling in business
1. Business Development
Every action in business is performed to improve and expand the business. Storytelling follows the same. It helps to develop business in new places. Telling your clients the idea of your business is a good thing, but telling the story behind the idea will be more enjoyable. Stockholders and investors will consider buying your stocks if you can convince them with a good story.
For example, everybody knows the story of how Apple CEO Steve Jobs recruited the current CEO, Tim Cook, from Pepsi. The famous sentence of Steve ‘Do you want to sell sugar water was your life, or do you want to change the world?’ is a well-known example of storytelling in business.
There is a lot of data and information on the internet. This is true in the case of every sector and every industry. Customers get bored browsing through the technical specifications of different products. For example, if a person is purchasing a trip to Europe, then there will be different websites offering different packages.
They will have their inclusions and exclusions, the price range, Dos, and don’ts and every other technical information for the trip. But a small paragraph with your story explaining all the technical points in a certain way will win the deal.
Especially if a person is searching for the package, then it will be more effective. Storytelling ensures that your message is not lost in the noise and the clutter of technical claptrap.
3. Attention grabber
Stories are entertaining, and everybody loves a little bit of entertainment in the business. It is desirable to have a small amount of diversion to your mind from the boring transactions of everyday businesses.
Storytelling is a perfect way to introduce that. Not only to grab the attention but if compelling, the story can also maintain the listener’s attention.
Of course, there are multiple factors on which it depends, like The storyteller, the way the story is narrated, The understanding of the listener, complexity of the story, language barriers, and other factors.
The best advertisements have stories in them. An ad without a story is not possible; however, its success depends on the quality of the story. Advertisers often face a challenge to compress a song story in 10 to 20 seconds.
Therefore advertisements can be termed as small versions of long stories that grab attention immediately. A small billboard can also be used as a mode of spelling a story if done correctly.
The ultimate objective is to get and convince the customer to buy the product, but to do that, the customer should first be aware of the product and remember it when he goes to purchase the product. There should be some element that the customer remembers about the brand and the best way to tell that element than a business story.
For example, Coca-Cola advertises its products with friends, thereby creating a story that the drink should be consumed when you are with friends or family. Now they have gone a step ahead in their storytelling and introduced customized Coca-Cola bottles with random names of people all over the United States. The story that they have for the strategy is to share the Coke with a friend.
The name of the person which is printed on the Coke bottle is the person that you share that drink with.
5. Bring people together
Storytelling is a universal language that can bring different people together. A good story is relatable by everyone, irrespective of their business, position, and profession.
Business storytelling helps to create unanimity amongst employees in the organization. Merely saying that we have to work hard to achieve targets this year is one thing, and telling a compelling argument or presenting the actual story behind the reason to increase the goal will motivate people in a better way.
Behind every instruction or order, employees want the truth, and storytelling is the best way. And it is because of business storytelling that employees often forget their differences and come together to work together.
Elements of a good story
A story is never good or bad. It is the experience of the listener, which is good or bad. However, it is in the hands of both the storyteller and the listener to make the experience better.
Following are few of the elements of a good story:
Entertainment is the core concept of storytelling, and a good story should be entertaining. However, it should not divulge from the primary objective and should provide mild entertainment.
Nobody expects a Hollywood entertaining story, but a mildly engaging story is always appreciated.
Good stories should be educational so that they impart some knowledge or information to the listener. If it becomes too educational, then it becomes a lecture there for the right amount of education that should be present in the storytelling.
Good stories should be relatable and universal. The listener should be able to relate to the story irrespective of his cultural heritage, background, or any other difference.
A good story should be organized to pass on the core message of the story effectively. It should be constructed so that the core message should be at the end of the story, while all the factors that keep the listener glued should be in between the story.
There should be some memorable judgment in your story. It can be a catchphrase, a model, or an experience. The more memorable it is, the better it will stay in the imagination of the listener.
Components of a story
Irrespective of what story you tell her to home, there are some standard components of every story. They make the story better and relatable to the listener. Following are a few of the elements of a good story:
The story is never complete without its characters. There can be one or multiple characters in the story, but the characters’ presence is essential because the character is the one who will take the story ahead.
In the case of business storytelling, the character can be the person himself who is narrating the story or an experience that he is in.
Every story should have a conflict. Without conflict, the story does not proceed ahead. In fact, without conflict, it would not be a story at all. Conflict helps to connect people and inflict emotions in people.
Conflict is an essential part of human life, and everybody faces conflict every day. It can be a small level conflict or a huge conflict, but the fact remains that conflict is present. When you have a conflict in your story, people will be able to relate it.
Resolution is the conclusion of your story. It can be a moral or closing, but it is essential to have a resolution for your story. It does not necessarily have to be an excellent resolution or a deeply moral story as long as there is something that the listener can take away from it.
Usually, in business storytelling, the resolution is with a call to action for the prospects.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on The Art of Storytelling.
The storytelling process
Of course, there cannot be a predefined process for every kind of story. Sometimes the process differs for every story. You start the story in an elevator, end in a car or start in a parking lot, and end up in an office. The following are a few of the storytelling steps; they can be customized according to your requirement, your brand, or your audience.
1. Understand your customer
This is the base of the entire marketing. Get to know your customer, his needs, or wants his buyer Persona and then start the process. Understand what the customer likes and what the customer does not like.
For example, most people like to make purchases on Christmas; therefore, a good story before Christmas would be compelling for many people. Apple follows this strategy and therefore launches new products every September and gets them into the market by October. Apple targets the habit of people spending during holiday time. They understand their target markets and target customers.
2. Define your core message
Whether your business message is for one hour or one day or even one minute, it should have a core message. A foundation of the message should be established before the story can be moved ahead.
Your core message can be anything, but it should be clear in the story. It should not happen that while you’re asking for new business from a new customer, your story turns out to be moral of how to save money.
3. Decide the action from the story
Every story is not told with a common intention. Every story is told with a different purpose in mind. Similarly, different kinds of actions are expected from every story. Before you start telling the story, determine the result that you expect after the story.
It can be to incite action from your customer, tell the customer about your brand, and convince and convey values or any other objective. If your story is told to incite action, then it should have a clear call to action strategy at the end.
On the other hand, if you expect to convey value to your customers, then this story should tap into the customer’s emotions. The customer should be able to visit your story with something personal from his life. If your story is told to collaborate, then it should motivate the listener to take action and do teamwork.
4. Define clearly a call to action for your customers
Call to action is clear action which you expect the customer to take after the story. Your story should have a clear call to action response, which can be conveyed and understood easily.
Determine what the action that you expect your customers to take is. Is it getting a new business? Is it getting a subscription? What is it merely conveying your values?
5. Choose a proper medium
Every story is different and is stored for a different audience. Therefore the medium of the story should also be different. Face-to-face stories for customers are the best way, but even that has limitations.
Sometimes visual stories are more compelling than verbal stories, and the best way to show visual stories is via the digital medium. Compelling advertising of 30 seconds can be much better than the speech of 30 minutes.
The verbal story sometimes has more effect than a face-to-face story. Written stories are, in fact, the most affordable and quick types for business storytelling. An audio story is equally good if the content is compelling.
Business storytelling is a crucial tool to leverage opportunities, convert clients, and make a compelling argument. It can be an excellent motivator and entertainer, and it can get things done.
However, care should be taken to make the story compelling and mildly entertaining. Excess dramatization can defeat the purpose of the storytelling.
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