Storytelling: How to find and tell your company’s story

Experienced marketers know the best way to talk about a company is by telling stories.  I’m not talking about the Dr. Seuss kind; I’m talking about your one-of-kind corporate story that infuses a human element and establishes a true connection with your audiences.

The kind of story that persuades, inspires and influences others. The type that digs deep into your company’s ethos and reveals who you are, where you’re from, how you got started and what you stand for.

storytellingStorytelling connects us in an emotional way and brings us closer to the storyteller. It grabs peoples’ attention. Telling your story to a stakeholder – whether it be an employee, an investor or a customer – will help you to get them on your side.

Effective corporate storytelling is relevant, interesting and informative. It is authentic and encourages your audience to start conversations with each other and even with your brand directly.

So how do you find your story? Every business has dozens of stories to tell.  Here are some examples:

  • Humble beginnings – Facebook started with a humble guy in a dorm room. Likewise, Steve Jobs began Apple with a big idea in a garage in suburban California.
  • Customers who have overcome obstacles -Perhaps they were able to somehow leverage the internet to lobby for a product or company service change.
  • Employee challenges – How did your employees thrive in face of adversity and what were their lessons learned? Perhaps they came together to buy an insolvent company and achieved great success.
  • Inside the lives of leadership – What’s the inside scoop of your CEO? What goes on behind close doors?  Give people insight into who your leaders are as people.
  • Community and charity partnerships - If you have any relationships with community organizations or charities, they can provide great stories as well.

What is the anatomy of a great story?   It’s the same stuff that goes into a great book.

  • Introduction – A young man or woman with a dream, for example.  Start off the intro with emotional trigger words and adjectives, with something that really sets the stage for the rest of your story.
  • Present the problem - If there is no conflict, it’s not going to be a good story.  People love to hear about a good problem!
  • Introduce your characters – Your founders, employees, customers, partners, etc.   The more you can talk about them in a human and descriptive way, the better. You want your reader to identify with the characters in the story.
  • A happy ending or solution – As you go through the problem and solution, it should resonate with your customers in way where they want to be connected to your company.

How to present your story

Storytelling has always been the best way to connect with people and the most powerful way to introduce new ideas.  Thanks to social media and the Internet, there are lots of different vehicles available for you to tell a story:

- video
- print collateral
- website / webinars / PowerPoints
- radio
- microsite or blog
- Social media: Twitter, FB , Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr

The next time you’re hunting for a good story to tell, remember the following:

  • Find pictures, clever creative, and copy to get your story out using social media.
  • Tell, don’t sell.  Everyone likes a good story; tell it to the right audience, at the right time.
  • Even if your product or service doesn’t have an interesting angle or strong news value, there is always a human element available to a brand – founder stories, employee stories, etc.
  • Have a strong call to action at the end of the story (that hopefully leads to sales).

Storytelling works.  Companies that aren’t able to tell their story are in big trouble. Get social and start telling your stories. You’ll become more agile, likeable and sociable….and probably successful. – Maria LoScerbo