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The Ultimate Guide to Business Storytelling

Are you searching for any guides and suggestions on business storytelling? Take a look at our guide, check out the tips and techniques, and thank us later.

Snow White wouldn’t have been popular if she didn’t end up with her prince. But the prince isn’t the selling point of the story. It is the hope and the ability to genuinely relate to the fictional character and the happy end that people love.

So, what’s your business story? Do you connect with your clients? Do you market ideas, hope, humanity, and emotions? If you offer only your products or services, that must stop now!

Here you have the ultimate guide to business storytelling with steps you should take to make the readers pass the headline and the product’s name, relate to you, believe in you, and give you their money.

The Ultimate Guide to Business Storytelling

The “art” of storytelling has to complement the technical part of the process and vice versa. If you want to benefit from the implementation of a business storytelling strategy, you have to stick to the established rules and only then let your creative juices flow.

There are things you can and can’t do. For starters, you should never focus too much on yourself, your success story, and your struggles. Conversely, even though your company is the hero that saved the day, the focus should always be on the client (both the previous and potential client).

The things you must avoid are:

  • Being too perfect
  • Have no flow
  • Not being consistent
  • Share too complex story

Instead, you should:

  • Focus on your audience
  • Play the empathy card
  • Highlight important things
  • Be creative and use various content types (case studies, blogs, magazines, social media posts, emails, the About Us page, etc.)

Besides in written form, you can use webinars, podcasts, animations, infographics, video testimonials, etc., to reach your audience.

Depending on the content type you use, your story should include:

  1. Setting
  2. Problem
  3. Solution
  4. Characters

In the meantime, don’t forget about the importance of the customer journey. You should detect at what point of the journey your target is and act accordingly. Generally, the target can be in one of these stages:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion

Finally, whatever you do, don’t forget that your story or marketing strategy isn’t more important than the customer. So, try to help the audience within your story regardless of the strategic goal.

The “Art” Part of the Process

I found hundreds of articles saying: “Storytelling is art!”; “Storytelling is challenging and cannot be done by everyone.”, etc.

Although every story about your business should be a piece of art, marketers forget about craftsmanship. Also, they forget that the base of the story and any form of marketing is being a human. It’s that simple!

So, your end product (study, email, copy, post, blog, etc.) should include the company’s path with all of its ups and downs, both from a human perspective and in data. The human perspective hooks and builds trust; the data seals the deal.

Business storytelling needs honesty in fractions

The key is to expose a fraction of your truth that correlates to your client's interest and build on that. What I’m saying is you should talk to your future client about their problem through your experience - the experience which proves that you found the solution to the problem and tested it, and no one can do it better than you.

Don’t picture the business storytelling as Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment (a great one, though). Business storytelling is an intelligent marketing tool. You should use it as such.

Suppose your client wants to find a reliable marketing agency for content writing services. In this case, your fantastic web developer skills or your failed college struggles won’t get their attention.

The reader doesn’t care if you’ve been interested in the IT industry since you were 15. Your client doesn’t care if you’re also an expert in quantum physics. They only want to know the following:

  • What brought you here at this job, in this industry, on this spot?
  • How did you learn?
  • Do you understand their need, and have you ever experienced their problem?
  • Will your solution work for them, and how?

The list can go on and on, of course. The point is - they don’t need your life story and the entire truth of your existence. That’s the “honesty in fractions” I’m talking about.

The perfect doesn’t sell

Do you remember that know-it-all kid from school? Or your ex? Yeah, that’s right! No one wants a know-it-all!

So, why would the reader who needs a service, a product, or a solution for their problem, relate to your perfect story, talking about the brightest star in the world of business?

They need to see your human side, your failure. Funny to mention, but people can genuinely relate and are attracted more to sad or struggling stories than happy ones.

You know that quote from Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons” saying, “Nothing captures human interest more than human tragedy?” This doesn’t have to be sad.

You can use your previous setbacks and struggles to connect with your reader and convince them there’s a cure, and it’s in your strategy. Just remember to use the problems you have faced and are now bothering your future client.

You can create the perfect story. Of course, that would be pointless. In fact, such an approach can activate your reader’s CTA urge, but it won’t be the action you prefer.

What the Best Business Storytelling Includes

I’ve told you everything you need to know about business storytelling above - use fractions of your experience that focus on your reader’s problem and data as proof that your business provides the crème-de-la-crème formula for success.

Since we covered the “art” part of business storytelling, it’s time to get technical!

Whether you create a case study, About-Us page, description, etc., good storytelling should make the reader stare at the wall for a few moments, picturing themselves in the scenario you introduce them to.

The story should provoke all LinkedIn reactions in your visitor’s mind, starting from Curious, Funny, and Like to Celebrate, Support, Insightful, and Love.

In the following section, you can find several things you should always avoid when writing a story.

Things to avoid

Business storytelling is one of the best ways to express your brand, and thus, it’s a powerful marketing tool. So, as with any marketing tool, it requires a strategy, a good structure, and a point.

The things that can negatively impact your story are:

  • Jargon
  • Plot holes
  • Never-ending story
  • Perfection
  • No-flow content
  • Making all about you

Now, this may sound a bit confusing, I believe, especially regarding the second and third points. How are you supposed to avoid plot holes if you should avoid never-ending stories?

The solution to this particular problem is to focus on your target and create a simple-to-understand story.

For example, if your company has been operating since 1970, you’ll probably include the history to show because that’s how the target starts to believe you’re relevant and experienced. However, if you start bragging about every little thing that happened in the fall of 1972 (unless it’s about a truly important event), your target will lose interest.

Regarding the plot holes, be aware! For instance, you can’t sell a success story in a case study if you skip the solution part. You can’t tell your target - “my client had a problem, and after hiring me, they became the GOAT in their industry” - the end.

Why is this a Don’t? Because your target wants to know more about the solution. They need crucial information to decide whether you’re the solution to their problem.

Things to do

If I’m being honest, the things you have to do for successful storytelling cannot be explained with a simple bullet list. Of course, I’ll include the list of some significant Dos in storytelling, but you have to be aware that there’s always more.

So, here are the Dos of business storytelling:

  • Use various content types
  • Focus on your audience
  • Highlight important things
  • Include your human side (play on empathy)

While creating content of any type, keep in mind that:

  • Even though it’s your story, remember that it’s always about the reader.
  • Consistency is important! The emotional connection you’re building on one page should be present on others too.

How and Where to Use Business Storytelling

The problem with passing the knowledge of good storytelling is that there’s a lot of “it depends”. The suggestion that works for a small startup won’t make a difference for a company with 100 years of experience. Also, the story craft for an interior designer is not the same as the one for a SaaS company.

However, as much as these industries and niches differ, there are storytelling pillars that work for all of them. Further, these businesses can publish their stories in similar (or the same) places.

So, let’s see how and where you can implement this marketing tool.

How to create and use your company’s story

A good story has three significant points and a flow between them. The three crucial points are the setting, the problem, and the resolution. This formula can be used in both About Us pages and case studies with a few modifications.

So, here are the crucial points and the story process you should implement.

The setting

The setting should take the reader to a specific place and time. You should describe the circumstances so that the story obtains a context.

Depending on your experience, try to answer several questions in the setting. You can describe who is telling the story and who is involved in it. This will lead you to the problem stage.

The problem

This is the point where you build up emotions and attract the reader. If you’re creating a case study, describe your client’s problem. If you’re creating an About Us page, describe why you decided to find a solution.

While this part of the story targets the reader's emotions and tries to provoke a reaction, you shouldn’t forget about facts. Include important data that show your client’s position and the problem they were facing.

The solution

At this point, the reader is all yours. You have attracted them, provoked their emotions, and now they want to see the end of the story.

So, you should include more data that clearly shows how your method, team, product, or service solved the client’s problem. Please don’t add complex content or unclear information. The reader should be able to follow straight lines from the bottom to the success.

Although you have their attention, it doesn’t mean you can relax. Readers can leave your website if they feel too pressured to make a decision. Or, you’ll provoke a negative reaction if you’re too braggy about the achievement.

Also, you should include clear CTAs near the end. Keep in mind that they must not be demanding or too pushy, but they also can’t be plain, without character.

The characters

The story must include at least a main character, which is you, or your company. The main character is present during all elements of the story. Of course, introducing the character as a hero can be beneficial, as everybody likes Captain America.

Still, heroism should be done extremely carefully. As I said before, being too braggy is damaging and unattractive. Even if that’s not your goal, you may accidentally highlight the client’s weak sides while talking about your strong sides. That’s an ego play; you should stay out of it if you want to have a job.

Now, here’s one trick - while the story's hero is the company, there’s another character that’s even more significant - your client.

For instance, in a case study, you should focus on the client that benefited from your company. By doing this, you paint the idea in the reader’s mind. You indirectly tell the reader that this (the case study) can be their success story.

It’s never about you. It’s always about them!

Popular business storytelling forms

During this article, I often mentioned the About Us page and case studies as typical formats of business storytelling. That’s on purpose, as they are regularly used. The About Us page is the second most visited after the home page. The case studies are something like a long, more comprehensive version of customer reviews.

However, these two formats are not the only ones you can use to tell a story. Actually, they’re also not the only forms of storytelling.

Besides these two, you can use several other formats when it comes to a written form of storytelling, those being:

  • Blogs
  • Magazines
  • Social media posts
  • Mails, etc.

Additionally, besides the written form, you can use other forms of storytelling:

  • Tell a story through a presentation or webinar (spoken form)
  • Audio (podcast)
  • Media (animation, image, infographics, video customer testimonial, video case study, etc.)

How the Customer Journey Impacts Storytelling

The main goal of storytelling, and any marketing strategy overall, is to change or influence behavior. If you’re a marketeer, you use this method to boost your client’s business. If you’re a company’s owner, you’re using storytelling for your profit.

Whether your goal is brand awareness, traffic, engagement, or conversion, storytelling can be a powerful tool in your strategy. However, for this method to be successful, you must understand your target.

The customer journey is crucial in how you’ll tell the story. I’m saying that you have to adjust the story according to the journey stage the visitor is in.

The three general stages of the customer journey are:

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Conversion

Once you get a new customer, another stage is making that person a returning customer. This stage, known as retention, allows you to optimize and improve the customer experience and keep the customer happy.

Why is this important for business storytelling?

Well, you should use a different approach to storytelling when focusing on web visitors than when talking to returning customers.

For instance, when the user is in the consideration stage, you should educate and inform them. However, if the user is in the conversion stage, you should convince them that your product/service is the solution and “push” them to make the final decision.

Is Storytelling More Important Than the Customer?

Absolutely not! I mentioned earlier in this article that one of the biggest mistakes you can make when using this strategy is to make the story all about yourself.

Even if you’re creating content for the About Us page, you should give your best to avoid the all-brand or all-me talk. Please delete your text if it starts with “when I was 9, I built my first Lego form, and ever since, I knew I will do something creative in my life”.

While that’s an amazing story and even a good conversation topic, it’s not a good start for business storytelling. Plus, keep in mind that there are 4-year-old kids that build Lego.

The story you’re telling should focus on the reader. Even though it’s a tool that can build connections, the strategy should be focused on the reader’s issues. Try to give answers, and the relationship will come on its own.

Additionally, romanticizing the story is a bad deal. You may have increased your previous client’s organic traffic and conversion rate. But there’s no need to speak as a knight who brought freedom to his country. Be honest and humble because readers can see right through lies.

Final Thoughts

Is business storytelling a good marketing tool? Absolutely yes!

If done right, at the proper time, storytelling can be a powerful marketing strategy that builds trust between you and the reader. Remember that not every piece of content can be and should be a story.

The story should be unique, address a specific target, contain true information, and show your human side. The story should convince the reader that you, and only you, have the solution, empathy, method, and skills, to solve their problems.

Important Note: Nothing of this is important if your website takes forever to load. Your visitor is not in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days scenario. So, take care of your web SEO, make the story’s content digestible, and include lots of graphics.

Very Important Note: None of the above matters if you don’t have a quality product/service to offer. Marketing strategies are essential but useless if you have nothing to show.

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