Master business storytelling with these tips, best practices, and examples

Small business owners are always looking for new ways to engage customers, and one way to do that is to leverage the power of business storytelling.

Dave Bricker, a business communications expert, and award-winning speaker and author, said the importance of business storytelling cannot be understated.

“Storytelling is possibly one of the more effective ways to achieve your awareness goals, lead goals, sales goals—all goals you set for your business,” Bricker said during his #BizHackLive webinar. “The secret to getting noticed is storytelling.”

There are concrete, digestible ways to elevate your business storytelling techniques and strategies to relate, capture, and sell, Bricker said. Read on for more ways to tell your brand’s story.

TLDR: 4 Ways To Tell The Story of Your Business Through Storytelling

The rules for business storytelling follow the general guidelines of any type of storytelling. Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • Tip 1: Engage Your Audience
  • Tip 2: Follow the Story Arc
  • Tip 3: Top Business Storytelling Strategies 
  • Tip 4: Avoid Common Mistakes

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Engage Your Audience

Bricker said that storytelling is now considered a business term and said that stories are a powerful tool, even when they’re bad stories. Everyone’s sat through a bad movie or finished a novel they didn’t particularly enjoy just to see how it ended. There’s power in the hold a story has on you.

“Your journey, your story—if done right—can make people pay attention,” he said. “Size does not matter. Your stories are big enough and powerful enough— the trick is to turn them into metaphors for your listener’s journey.”

As a storyteller, it’s your job to hold your audience’s attention by engaging and entertaining, which brings the listener into the story and helps them connect with you.

“You’re not necessarily selling your product or service. You’re selling your credibility, your suitability, your ideas, your trustworthiness,” Bricker said. “We are all selling all the time.”

TIP: The golden rule of storytelling is that stories are always about people. If you’re not talking about people, you’re not telling stories. If you’re not telling stories, you are not connecting. And if you’re not connecting, you are not selling. 

Follow the Story Arc

If you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a story. But the conflict has to be authentic, and customers want to buy a story of transformation. For example, if your goal is to help people quit smoking, showing them yellow teeth, sallow skin, and charred lungs will simply scare them. They respond better to a story of transformation, such as telling them how they’ll be able to spend more time with their grandchildren or finally finish a 5K run.

“So much advertising and marketing efforts fail because they are selling the conflict and not the transformation,” Bricker said. 

Top Business Storytelling Strategies 

Small business owners can leverage a few key business storytelling strategies to transform their brand’s story.

  • Remove the “why.” A conflict has to be authentic, or it won’t resonate with your audience.
  • Understand your magic. Your or your business’s particular magic could be insights, talent, experience, the team, equipment, or whatever else makes you unique. Instead of discussing features, tell the story about what is special about you and your business, which will move clients from conflict to transformation.
  • Sell outcome. Verbalize appealing outcomes rather than features. For example, if a real estate agent is trying to sell a home, telling the potential buyer that the home is close to the train station is a feature. Instead, telling them that proximity will help them avoid traffic and parking hassles is selling an appealing outcome.
  • Don’t use personalized language. Avoid using I, me, or we statements, such as “I think,” “let me suggest,” or “our company.”
  • Become the guide in your client’s story. When you give clients a call to action (CTA) they don’t understand, you have the opportunity to guide them through the story and make the sales pitch.

Avoid Common Mistakes

Some business stories don’t work. Here are five mistakes to avoid when storytelling for your business, with examples:

  • The time is money adage. Find clients you can guide and leverage your ability to take them from conflict to transformation to secure the sale.
  • “Sure, you can have purple!” Professionals don’t hire experts to tell them what to do.
  • “The job will take five minutes.” You’re not charging customers for the time you spent on the project. You’re charging them for the years it took for you to master your craft.
  • Technobabble. Skip the buzzwords and SaaS descriptions. Customers don’t want to know how it works. They want to know what the results will be for their business.
  • I can do it cheaper: Change the conversation from price to value. Great clients aren’t looking for the cheapest product or service. They are looking for the optimal business result.

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