People have been telling stories since the dawn of time. Before the written word, story was how humankind passed along knowledge and history from one generation to the next. And if you’re a parent, you know how important story is to your kids–and it’s so exciting to watch their little eyes light up with wonder at their favorite story. No matter how many (hundreds) of times they’ve heard it already.
In fact, our little ones love to “read” their favorite stories over and over again, sometimes word-for-remembered word. Ad nauseum. Because, through story, they’re building their vocabulary, learning how things work and growing their sense of self.
As an adult, it might feel like you’ve outgrown the pull of a good story. But you haven’t. You just probably haven’t heard (or told) a good one lately. Or if you have, it was so good that it didn’t occur to you that the writer (or speaker) was using story to hook you in.
[bctt tweet=”Story is what ropes you in and keeps you listening or reading.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
When was the last time you listened to a podcast, watched a YouTube video or saw a TED Talk? If you’re like most business owners, you probably do one or more of these throughout the week. You turn to podcasts and videos to gather ideas and inspiration for how you run and grow your business. When you do, you’re listening to master storytellers entertain you while also imparting a big nugget of knowledge.
Story is everywhere. It’s in the television commercials you watch, it’s at your dinner table as you share your day and it’s in your dreams–both literally and figuratively. Story is how we live and how we think about what’s to come. And story is how we do business today.
Different types of story
There are three different types of story you should incorporate into your business:
- Stories that help to communicate a bigger idea
- Stories that illustrate an idea or thought
- Stories that educate your audience about you and your business
All three types of stories have a place in your business, if used well. So when you’re inserting a story into a blog post, an Instagram caption, a Facebook update or a video, ask yourself:
Does this story help to communicate a bigger idea?
Does this story help to illustrate an idea or thought, to make it easier to understand?
Does this story educate my audience about me or my business?
If you can answer yes to any one of these questions, then go forth and tell your story. But if the story is just for the sake of a story, think twice before sharing.
But wait…I just want to be straightforward and to the point. Why tell a story?
Benefits of using story in your business
Telling a story makes you (and the information you’re sharing) more relatable. Whether you’re telling your own business story or telling the story of one of your customers, real-life examples are much easier to relate to. This gives your characters a name and face, which humanizes the experience and makes it easier to understand.
Using a real example from your own business doesn’t mean that you’re divulging confidential information. It’s fair to change names of the guilty or speak in generalities so you’re maintaining client privilege. But using that story shows your audience that they’re not alone.
Just like your kids, a story will grab your audience’s attention and help them to remember the information. It’s more engaging and interesting and more fun to read or consume. Because we’re all just big kids, after all.
[bctt tweet=”The stories you tell will grab your audience’s attention and keep them hooked–if told well.” username=”AbbyMHerman”]
Using story doesn’t mean that you’re telling a long, complicated narrative every time you communicate. It means you’re giving the setting of when, where and how your audience can use or do something. It puts your audience in the driver’s seat and gives them a mental picture–which is much more effective than simply spouting off a bunch of facts.
Story also makes you much more relatable, especially when you’re sharing part of your own business story. It allows you to be vulnerable in the eyes of your customers so they know you’re human too.
When you’re telling YOUR story
Sharing your own story as a business owner is a huge part of marketing today. Your audience wants to know who you are and where you came from–in a business sense. And many business owners also share some of their personal lives with their audiences.
No matter how introverted and private you are, telling some of your own story and journey as a business puts a human face on your business. So share away, within reason. Some important things to remember:
Know ahead of time what you want to share (and not share). Not everything is share-worthy. Think about your brand and what you want it to represent and share around those ideas. For example, if you’re a big foodie, go ahead and share pictures and stories that relate to food. But if your daughter is taking gymnastics lessons and you read while you’re waiting for class to get over? Probably not a shareable idea. It begs the question, Who cares?
Other things that you should probably avoid when sharing your story? Check out the video below.
Know WHY you’re sharing. Like any content you create, there should be a reason behind every story you tell in your business. And it’s okay to stretch this connection abit. Maybe you’re a marketing guru and you want to share a marketing fail (or big win!) you saw when you were on vacation. You can easily weave a story here that’s relatable and interesting.
Know that you have more than one story. There’s a lot to you and your business, and there’s a lot to tell. It doesn’t all have to lead right back to your business, but a story can tie it all together. Some of the best business stories to tell, depending how where you are in business and what type of people are in your audience, include:
- How your biz came to be
- Adversity you’ve faced
- How you relate to others (your audience)
- Lessons learned/mistakes made
- Something funny and relatable
Storytelling tips for business
If you’re ready to dive into story as a way to market your business, keep these tips in mind:
- Your story is not a highlight reel. You’ve faced adversity and you make mistakes. No one wants to only hear about all the amazing things you’ve done. Include the challenges too! (That said, no one only wants to hear the story of your challenges either. Whine much?)
- When using story on your website or sales page, let your audience be the hero. Put them in the position of having that problem solved or being successful.
- Pique curiosity in any story by starting at the middle of the action–not at the beginning. As someone who tends to make a long story long, you’ll hold your audience’s attention better if you start with the climax. You may need to backtrack, but that’s okay.
- Not every story needs to be told. Sometimes, mystery and intrigue win the day.
Is story where your content gets hung up every time? Or is there another reason why your content marketing isn’t holding up? Head to the Write Solutions Content Bank for free tips and tricks when marketing online.