Storytelling: how to do it and how it can improve your business
Capturing consumers’ attention and creating an emotional bond with them is crucial if you want to effectively sell your products or services.
People search the market for those who can optimally respond to their specific needs and precise desires, but purchases are guided not only by logic but also by emotions: we all love to buy from those who can touch our heartstrings and inspire us with trust and respect.
Corporate storytelling is what allows you to create this emotional connection with customers, because it gives you the opportunity to communicate your brand personality, the reasons why you created your company, and how the company strives every day to carry out the values that guide it.
Telling a story effectively takes time, planning, and the right skills. In the next few lines you will discover how to do corporate storytelling effectively and make the most of it.
What is corporate storytelling and what is it for
“A special effect, without a story, is a boring thing”;
this phrase uttered by the great George Lucas, creator of the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” film sagas, may help you begin to understand what we are talking about.
That of storytelling, in fact, is a concept that is certainly not just about the business context: storytelling means communicating something by telling stories and making use of some of the basic principles of narratology and rhetoric. To be effective, the story must have a structure familiar to the listener and characters with clear roles. And it must be able to move hearts.
Now, however, the time has come to apply this to our field: the definition of corporate storytelling refers to the persuasive use of stories aimed at attracting the attention of consumers and conveying a message that can stimulate them to take a specific action (which, in most cases, is a purchase).
Within a highly competitive market, making yourself stand out by distinguishing yourself from competitors who offer the same products or services as you do is crucial: the goal, as mentioned, is to capture the attention of consumers and create a bond with them that makes them trust you and choose what you offer. The bond must last over time: in addition to attracting prospects and customers, corporate storytelling also serves to build their loyalty, so that they remain loyal to your corporate identity and continue to buy your products or services.
How to do storytelling effectively
Knowing what results you are able to achieve through corporate storytelling is useless if you do not know how to storytell effectively.
First of all, you need to clarify a fundamental point: thinking that you can target everyone indiscriminately is a mistake. Not everyone is your potential customer, and not everyone shares the same values as your company; it is important, therefore, that you think about the best way to write a targeted story aimed at your target audience, present and future, and adapt it over time to them, while also using the right tone of voice. Add elements characteristic of your target audience, so that your listeners can recognize themselves in the story. Monitor their conversations, around your brand but not only. Remember: if you don’t listen to consumers, they are unlikely to listen to you.
Always keep in mind the goal of storytelling: to capture attention and keep interest intact. The story you tell, therefore, cannot only be interesting, but must also be compelling. Don’t just recount how your venture came about, but describe the personal reasons why you embarked on your professional adventure and the insight that ignited the decisive spark in you. Reflect on what really drove you to create your company, jot down the words that come to mind when you reason about the emotions that guided you in launching your company, and always keep in mind your company’s mission, vision, and values. Show the human side of your company and bring consumers into your universe.
The goal is to promote your brand, but always remember to be authentic: in order for your listener to trust you, you must be sincere, consistent with your business model, and not create false expectations. Objectively analyze your strengths and weaknesses, so that you understand what is most appropriate to communicate and how to do it.
In even more concrete terms, the story to be told should be as short and concise as possible. The “secret” is to use few words to convey many messages. Remember, however, that messages should be as specific as possible.
The use of pronouns can also make a difference. It all depends on who the protagonist of your story is: the use of the first person is a useful device to lend authority to the person telling the story but it is preferable to use it if the protagonist has a name and a face; the second person puts the consumer at the center of the story and in this case it is, therefore, essential to know the target audience best and show the right empathy; finally, the third person is useful if the story focuses on particular testimonials or case studies.
Now let’s take a small step back: you will recall that when we defined the concept of storytelling, we referred to the principles of narratology; have you ever heard of Vladimir Propp? In 1928, in his book entitled ‘Morphology of the Folktales,’ he proposed a scheme identifying the 31 functions (also known as Propp’s sequences) that make up a tale, representing typical situations in the unfolding of the plot of a fairy tale, with special reference to the characters and their roles.
The general structure of a fairy tale (introductory balance-breaking of the balance-action of the hero-restoring the balance) and the character-types identified by Propp (especially the roles of the hero and the helper) can come in very handy in the development of your corporate story.
Corporate storytelling: useful tips
There is still room for more useful advice on how to write a company’s story and communicate it in the best way possible so as to take full advantage of it in terms of marketing as well. On some aspects, in fact, there needs to be extra thought: it is really very important, for example, when you sit down to think about what to communicate, that you focus on what really makes you special compared to your competitors. Earlier we talked about narrative patterns repeating themselves: this is true, but always keep in mind that your story, in order to capture attention, must be unique. Don’t look for unnecessary shortcuts: never misrepresent yourself, focus on real facts, and make sure that the day-to-day operations of your company reflect what you tell and “promise” to your prospects and customers.
It is essential that, within the company, everyone shares the key message and values you intend to communicate to the outside world. The risk, if this is not the case, is that unpleasant situations will arise because of discordant messages.
Social media can be valuable allies in intercepting your target audience and keeping them updated on your story developments. The explosion of influencer marketing has provided new possibilities for those who want to do corporate storytelling: think about having your story told by bloggers or influencers, that is, figures who within your target audience already have some authority and credibility. Be careful because this move can turn out to be counterproductive: you have to choose very carefully the right testimonial to whom you entrust your story, and you have to make sure that your corporate storytelling does not appear too “promotional” in this way, because this would risk upsetting your potential customers.