The Art of Storytelling for Business

onceuponatimeA presentation from NewsCred reported that 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing, and 86% of B2C marketers and 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing. These are pretty impressive numbers, but regardless of the exact numbers, we know that content marketing is important. (You’ve read our other blog posts, right?!) So the next questions is: what kind of content works? What should you spend your time working on?

Content that tells a story: engage and make emotional connections. 

One of the latest marketing buzzwords is storytelling. Why do we love books and movies? Because they tell us a story, they make us feel something – they make us care. Stories help create a connection, which is powerful in the marketing world. Once a connection is made, your audience could buy something, donate money, or assist with your goal in some way.

Stories don’t have to be daunting – they happen every day. The hard part is trying to figure out how to tell and share that story. I saw a video today about a dog trying to be brought into his kennel and he was huffing and barking what sounded like “no.” Viewers were easily able to understand what was happening and relate to this dog. Haven’t you ever been supposed to get out of bed and do something and just want to say no?

One of the best examples of storytelling to fulfill a marketing objective is Kickstarter or Indiegogo or any of the other internet fundraising machines. These websites force users to tell a story about who they are and what they want to do. They recommend using deals, but also keeping people updating about the process and developments behind the scenes. They are marketing themselves “face-to-face” to reach their goal and many are insanely successful.

Over the past few years we’ve grown accustomed to talking with businesses online. Whether you are writing a long piece of content or a short status update on Twitter, businesses need to share things that will resonate with their audience. Business content is shared on social media within a larger framework of stories and pictures from friends, so when given the chance to share that content, it needs to be compelling and original or it will be swiped to the sideline.

Think of all the TED Talks or speeches that have moved you to action (or want to take action). They have powerful stories in them that create metaphors for change. If you are having trouble creating a story about your business, try out the Pixar pitch from the book To Sell is Human by Dan Pink. The script helps you discover the storyline in your business:

Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________. One day _________. Because of that _________. Because of that _________. Until finally _________.

 Take some time to discover how that story reads for you. When this narrative begins, your company might not exist, but you were able to discover something that needed to be changed. Then you worked to problem solve and create something out of nothing.

Everyone has a story to tell. Practice telling your story using words, images and video and see what you come up with! If your business has a good story to tell, please share it within the comments.