storytelling in business

Why storytelling is important in your small business

I’ve just finished reading a novel that had me gripped until the last word: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. One of the many things I loved about the book was how the storytelling gripped me.  It drew me to the characters, with all their quirks, flaws, and it brought them all to life. It helped me to know, relate to, and understand them.  And I kept on reading because I just had to know more! It got me thinking about my niche blog and how customers relate to my own story when I share it with them in person or when they read part of my story on my niche blog.  Many of my customers specifically mention my story when they contact me. But what is storytelling and why am I talking about it here?

What is business storytelling?

Business storytelling is about breathing life into the facts.  It is the human side of the story that goes deeper into what lies behind the business. You can use storytelling in your business to engage, inform and entertain but when sharing your story, be sure to make a clear and concise point. Your story should be true and your own story, rather than someone else’s.

Types of business story

Doug Stevenson, provides training in storytelling for business.  He has divided storytelling into different categories.  The type of story you use will depend on the situation and the context of your business.
  • Crucible story (a severe test)
  • Comedy of errors story (to entertain)
  • Profile story (about an individual, for example, their rise to fame)
  • Vignette story (short and interesting)
  • Credibility story (to sell yourself, or build credibility with a client)
  • Pattern story (to demonstrate a lesson learned over time)
  • Instructional story (technical content)
  • Minerva story (ancient wisdom, folk story)
Taking my niche business story above as an example, it would come under the category of a credibility story, but it could also be a pattern story.

Why your story is so important

Storytelling is a key part of any small or solo business and your blog is one of the places you can share some of it with your audience. Here are some headline thoughts to consider Your story:
  • Makes you unique
  • Is the ‘why’ behind what you do and how you do it
  • Gives shape to your experience
  • Helps to make you instantly recognisable
  • Draws those who’ve had similar experiences to you
  • Resonates with those who understand or can relate to your story
  • Marks you out from others in your field

How storytelling can benefit your business

Here are 7 ways that storytelling can benefit your business: 1) Your story creates relationships.  Your journey can explain the ‘why’ behind what you do and how you do it.  It gives your audience an opportunity to walk in your shoes and understand you. As you describe what you did or what happened to you, you’ll be taking your audience on a journey that progresses to them knowing you better. 2) Avoids a sale-driven focus.  Using your story as your starting point gives you the chance to speak in your authentic voice.  It takes away the pressure of thinking about selling (and using ‘sales speak’!)and gives you the space to express what you’d like to share in your own words. 3) Your story builds a connection with your audience.  Your audience will become more engaged as they get to know more about you and understand you.  They’ll become interested and will come back to see what else you have to share.  Knowing more and understanding helps to build trust. 4) It helps your audience decide whether your content, products and services are right for them. It will answer such crucial questions in their minds as: Are we on the same wavelength? Can I relate to this person?  Do I like him/her?  This works for you because it helps to build an engaged audience who like what you have to say, are on the same wavelength, can relate to you and like you. 5) Encourages your customers to share (parts of) their own stories.  By sharing your story, it invites your most engaged audience, including buying customers, to share their own stories, experiences and problems. 6) It allows you to show you’re listening to your customers.  Through the stories your engaged audience will share, you’ll find out about their problems, pain points, areas they need help with.  You can act on that valuable information (as long as the information isn’t confidential) by providing content, products or services that will help your audience. 7) It helps you to show how you’ve evolved. Sharing your story helps you to demonstrate a positive or favourable outcome.  You may have experienced particular adversity and as a result, you took the following actions: a, b and c.  Which led to x, y and z.  As a result, you reaped certain benefits.  Showing this progression (for example from adversity to advantage), helps to shape your message in a positive way.  Equally, it could have resulted in something negative, that you experienced but now know how to overcome. We all love a good story – it engages us.  We can probably all think of someone we know who can captivate a crowd with their storytelling or remember a good story like the Accidental Tourist. We all have a valuable story to tell, based on our experiences.  I invite you to tell your own story on your business blog… >>> Have you used storytelling in your business?  Which type did you use and how was it received?