As part of our business series, we’ve decided to take a closer look at one of the most essential parts, namely how to tell your business story effectively.
Want to make people tick? Tell them a great story and tell it well. We are all storytellers and we all imagine our lives within the course of time. A story can move us, make us feel like we’re part of something special, feel like we belong. Telling a business story requires little more than thought.
What is a story?
A common theme in storytelling captures the journey of a hero who overcomes a major challenge or a series of challenges and armed with persistence and strength achieves the goal and becomes a better and wiser person. Now get Bilbo Baggins out of your mind for a second and think about your business. Every business is bound to face challenges along the way – some small, others more significant and a few that may transform it entirely. But above all – a business is created in order to help its customers overcome their challenges. Therefore, despite what a business’s goals are, its main objective remains the same – to make life easier for its customers and to make a positive change.
Why should you tell your business story?
Every business has a multitude of stories to tell, but the main story of your business is for you to write in the very beginning. Your story has to tell who you are and how your business stands out, how you can help your customers and what you’ve been through to get to where you are today. It’s a powerful way to convince without even convincing. And it’s also a great addition to your bottled passion, i.e. the elevator pitch. Your business story is a constant source of inspiration for you and those you work with. But you need to tell it right.
The “Right” Point of view
One of the easiest approaches to telling your business story is to do it from your point of view. It’s where your business plan, values and elevator pitch all come together in a narrative form. This narration will be there whenever you need to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and why your business is special.
However, there is another way to tell your company’s story which is not less valuable – from the point of view of your customers. It is a great reminder that your customer is the real hero in your story and it makes perfect sense to include them into it. You’d be surprised at how well your customers can write your story.
Remember – there is no right and wrong here. It’s your story and you need to believe in your creativity and experience and really dig deep into the purpose of your business. And remind yourself that as long as your business is out there, there are always a few blank pages left to fill in and your story never really ends.
Business Storytelling 1.0
The traditional elements to include in your business story are the following: its history, its purpose, the challenges along the way and any future ones. In order to include those elements, you need to follow a few basic steps.
Look back. Start by taking a look at your past and how your business relates to the bigger story. Think about who inspired you the most along the way? Who are your business heroes and why? Having a clear idea of why you started your business and what motivated you to persist will give you a confident start. Think about the struggles you’ve had and how you managed with them. Remember your very first product or client – what did you learn from that experience?
Content. Next up, add some purpose to your story. If you’ve read and acted upon our previous three articles in this series, then you already have your business goals and your elevator pitch. What’s left is your business values – another dimension to your business story. While goals drive your business forward, values keep you grounded and give you the necessary meaning. It’s a magic mix and no ingredient is less valuable than the other.
Threats. Watch out for the monsters – they may be hiding in the least expected places. Along the way you will not only encounter challenges, but real threats to your business. Keep your eyes open at all times.
Putting it all together. Once you have all those elements jotted down, it’s time to weave the narrative together and use it. Much of that narrative is for you anyway and it will unfold as you go. You may not be able to choose the challenges and threats along the way, but you do get to choose how you react to them.
Your business story – told by your customers
Most of what you write in your business story is for your use only – to guide you through decisions and challenges. Of course the elevator pitch, the business values and the actual business history are fine to make public, but not your goals. A customer isn’t interested in your goals, they just want to know how you can help them. That’s why a great marketing strategy is to get your customers to tell their story about how your business has helped them. When you understand who your customers are and what their needs and worries are you can shape your product or service in a way that meets those needs.
Want your story told by your customers? Collect testimonials and reviews – they can be short and sweet, requiring very little effort to write. Some of the testimonials can be mentions on Twitter – take a snapshot of each one that shows how your brand is making a difference. Of course you can take this further by conducting case studies – they go in-depth and serve like short stories too. Put them on your website and make it a habit to collect them.
Remember that you are writing your business story at this very moment too – as long as it exists, your story is never done. Use the comment box to tell us about your business and what makes it special.