This article discusses
- the best starting point of storytelling
- the elements of a good story
- and what a content strategy can do for your business.
Telling your story as a business can mean many things. You can tell a story about your history, for example. This is good for internal purposes: Everybody knows where they work, where the company comes from, which values they represent, and so on. Storytelling can also mean something bigger: With every piece of content that tells a little story in itself (video, website copy, blog articles, social media posts, emails – but also “offline”) your business tells a whole story as well. This happens automatically in most cases before someone even thinks about it as a bigger story.
Since this bigger story (which I will call storytelling from now on) attracts a certain clientele, you should be aware of it to be able to make adjustments in your best interest. This way, you can reach new clients, keep your existing customers happy, and last but not least: enjoy yourself while doing it! Seeing the whole picture is easier from outside, so it can be a good idea to work with someone who can give you external, qualified feedback.
Storytelling: Where to start?
The first question that comes to our mind when thinking about storytelling is often: Where should we start? In my experience, the beginning of successful storytelling is highly determined by two factors.
Decide for one person who is in charge.
If different people are involved in telling a business story, it is important everyone speaks with the same voice and tells a consistent story as a whole. Define a role, something like a story-manager, if you will. And let everyone else co-operate.
A company that wants to publish their story in an appealing way should determine responsibilities and stick to them. Otherwise it is difficult if the person who is in charge actually wants to tell the story – and the person who is responsible for telling the content wants to be in charge.
But even if you are self-employed, it is not that easy to tell your business story consistently. Take some time to actively decide how you want to tell it.
Find the right point of time to tell your story.
This has an even higher priority, because it massively affects the dynamics of the first part.
Imagine you have developed a great product or service, built your own website and published some content on social networks. Now you want to address even more clients or a different type (let’s say in the German-speaking market). This is a good time to put some effort into your storytelling.
It might be too early for your company, if you are not sure who to address specifically. Maybe you are still focusing on developing a product or you still “forge” your services. This is the case for my own business, actually. Since I care more about people’s passion than a certain business field, I am not targeting one yet. My clients are the experts for their business, I help them with their story.
Also, in the past I have written for different projects, not even thinking about the bigger story. It wasn’t a huge disaster, but today I know we would have been more effective with a good storytelling strategy, saving us time and energy.
How to implement these factors
I will go into more detail about who should tell what and when in the next blog post: “Your business has many faces – Show them to your clients!”
For now, we will focus on how you can find your narrative uniqueness or, a bit less romantic, determine your content strategy.
What Storytelling is
If I had to put it all in one sentence, it would be this:
Create a story you know by heart and which touches people, so in the end your story will be told not only by you, but also by others.
The elements of a good story
A good story contains mechanisms to make sense of the perceived world of your recipients. It also creates an in-depth understanding by highlighting different factors of the same phenomenon, without just repeating itself.
A perception of order
Let’s have a more detailed look at those sense-creating mechanisms. You don’t have to be the hero of your story. Your business does not have to be the result of overcoming a lot of challenges. It is way more important to focus on the story of your product or service – in the life of your clients.
How does your service affect your clients? How does your product help them with their everyday life struggles or just improve their lives? Only you can answer this. Maybe you already have a clear vision. If not (or if you want to review it), you can learn more about it in the next article.
Creation of a deeper meaning
Now let’s focus on the creation of in-depth understanding through a non-repetitive highlighting of various factors of the same phenomenon. Sounds complicated? It isn’t.
Let me give you an example. Imagine yourself sitting in front of your crowded desk. In between stands your computer and on its left side stands a plain cup. The angle you are looking at the cup allows you to glance inside, but you cannot tell whether it is empty or still containing any liquid. The handle points to the left. Please stand up. The same cup looks a little different now: You can see that there is a bit of coffee left inside, and even though the handle still points to the left, it has a slightly different shape, it looks slim from above. You pick up the cup, swallow the last sip of cold coffee (yikes) and put it on the other side of your computer. Now would you please sit down again? You get yet another impression: The handle points to the right. It looks similar to the first time you saw it, but now it makes you smile. Because from this side, the cup shows the logo of your business.
By telling this little story, I picked a rather small detail (the cup) out of a larger picture (a crowded desk) and described its various characteristics (handle, content, shape). You may have connected with the story by relating to this item which could easily stand in front of you right now – or it doesn’t, but you might want to have this awesome cup in the future.
Telling your story, you can pick a service or product and describe it in different ways over time and with different media to make it more vivid and tangible.
Storytelling: Why it is a good idea for your business
Your client relationships become more targeted
In marketing, it is valuable for both your business and your clients if you tell a good story. If you know where to find your target audience, you can approach the right (social) media channels for addressing it. If you invest a certain amount of time in determining your main keywords, great. You can also work with a content creator on that. But even more importantly, focus on valuable content. It adds a unique spin to whatever is already out there in your business field, it shows the variety of your products and services, and last but not least: it creates a need within your clients (or future customers) to stick with you.
Increase your visibility with a content strategy
You will also be found more easily through search engines once you engage in your brand more broadly. What is a brand? Most of all, it is a familiar name. Wait, you say. Just because you have heard of someone before means you also trust them better? According to Google or Bing, this is actually often the case.
A successful content strategy means to appear to your target group over and over again, on different media, and with valuable information. Once people recognize the unique elements of your story, they will look forward to the next recognition. Storytelling means you chose the appropriate channels and provide useful advice for your recipients.
Best practices and localization of storytelling
We will go into more detail within the next two articles: In the second post, you will get an overview about best practices of storytelling to get an idea of how your storytelling strategy can look like and how to set and achieve your own goals. In the third article, I will discuss the specifics of the German-speaking market. You will learn how to approach your (new) clients abroad and how to localize your story best.
Follow this blog to learn more about storytelling for your business.