The biggest and most recognizable brands in the world use storytelling to raise brand awareness and build loyalty and trust. It’s often part of a sophisticated content strategy that involves targeting diverse audiences across disparate platforms and channels.
This approach often involves big teams and even bigger budgets. But that doesn’t mean that small businesses should forgo storytelling. Using stories to spread the word can accelerate your entry into a market and add depth and authenticity to a young brand.
We’ve spoken at length about storytelling philosophies and techniques and why stories are so powerful. However, telling your brand’s story can be as simple as talking face to face with one prospective customer or investor.
This is why we encourage entrepreneurs to approach all communication with a storytelling mindset. Using the following tools, any small business owner can incorporate stories into their day-to-day routine to build excitement and interest in their company.
Small business storytelling transforms ordinary, nuts-and-bolts business development into a thoughtful dialogue that will be mutually compelling and beneficial for you and the people who make up your future client base.
Here are some easy ways that you can put small business storytelling into practice today.
Talk frankly about problems
What keeps people up at night?
Winning brands solve tangible problems. Focus on your prospective customers’ biggest problem and how you are their ideal problem-solving partner.
This might feel more practical than poetic, but consider this: All great stories involve conflict and resolution. It’s what keeps butts in seats at movie theaters. Use conflict, change, honesty, and reality to your advantage when talking to people.
Show how you’ve overcome obstacles. Paint a picture of your customer’s life after you’ve helped them overcome theirs. People will listen – and respond.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that uses a word or phrase to describe or symbolize an unrelated idea.
Instead of saying:
The showroom was crowded today.
…you’d say something like:
The showroom was a zoo today.
Metaphors create instant connections. They’re engaging because they distill big ideas into manageable packages. They draw from shared experience and understanding. And they conjure imagery in a way that plainer language often can’t.
Metaphors are golden nuggets for anyone trying to win business and build influence. But choose your metaphors with care. They come with two major risks:
- Causing offense with inept or offensive choices of metaphors
- Relying too heavily on business jargon or clichés, which are born when metaphors are overused and lose their vividness and impact
Embrace origin stories
Your story doesn’t begin the day you unlocked the front door and welcomed customers into your new store. Likewise, your customers are people with stories of their own. Same goes for your employees, shareholders, investors, industry peers, partners, and vendors.
Additionally, origin stories aren’t limited to your personal journey. A customer profile or testimonial gives people a more nuanced perspective on your brand. An employee social media takeover can contribute an intimate “day in the life” view on your services and their inner workings. A few other places where origin stories breathe life into content and communications:
- Case studies
- Product descriptions
- Press releases
- Sell sheets
Start with how and why
We know the 5 Ws are the bedrock of all effective communication. Sharing who, what, where, and when should be organic parts of your content and conversations. But how and why? These are the heartbeat of your organization. They instantly convey your values.
Given how much of consumer spending is values-driven (and given the fact that people are more likely to make a decision based on emotion rather than logic), it makes sense to start with the why.
Share your raw purpose with your prospective customers. Tell them who you are. Open a window into your world. And don’t just tell a story: Make others a part of your journey. Nothing could be more riveting.
You don’t have to be a business owner to put these ideas into practice. They can help you communicate more clearly and effectively in any situation. Give it a try and see how others respond.
Consummate Prose is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes discover who they are and share it with the world. If you’re ready to see how stories can build your bottom line, contact us today.