0 Comments |  Planning |  PRINT | 

The art of storytelling in business

Friday, 1 May 2015 | By Jo Sabin

Like the first few pages of a great book that attracts and engages readers, all elements of business communication must have a compelling narrative that hooks customers and users right from the get-go.


If you’re a startup trying to create your branding-communication voice and/or message, the following tips will give you a great starting point to build from.


Surprise us!


When you set out to create your messaging style, consider kicking if all off by revealing to your audience an important fact or detail that isn’t common knowledge or include an unexpected turn of events. Something quirky or out of the box that highlights the creativity, progressiveness or the fun-loving attitude of your business has the potential to create meaningful bonds with customers and set it apart from the rest. Tell your audience something that no one would expect or that goes against common stereotypes because when it comes to storytelling, predictable plots won’t engage anyone.


Get to the point


Although you need to hook people from the get go, it is also super important to get stuck into your messaging and reveal your business’ value. Stick to relevant details if you want people to read your entire story, as most people won’t have all day for it. Choose a few main points that people will actually care about and focus on them — things like money saved, number of users, growth over the years, and/or customer testimonials are all effective examples.


For each communication with your audience, have a single message that you want them to take away from it. Are you advising or teaching your audience, are you telling them about an amazing customer story or are you just engaging with them to make them feel, well, engaged? If you don’t feel like the most-qualified wordsmith, consider outsourcing or crowdsourcing your communications, a tactic that can extend to a variety of business jobs, helping to maximise your time.


Be honest


Everyone makes mistakes or does embarrassing things every now and then, but being honest about those less than stellar moments will make you and your business easier to relate to. Flip mistakes and failure on its head to share the lesson you learned. If you have been involved in a well-known scandal, address it, and don’t even consider lying about your past because if you get found out your reputation may never recover. Even the simplest things like a spelling mistake in a title can be a fun thing to pick up on and show your business’ humanity.


Overcome the odds


Tell us about a few of the challenges you have overcome, such as rejection or setbacks. Talk about what you learned from each challenge, how it motivated you and what inspired you to redouble your efforts. If your story is pretty hard to believe, include pictures, videos or news clippings to prove it. This tactic is similar to previous ones, but the idea is to create a brand that people can connect with and trust — make your brand an extension of who you are.


Use humour


Incorporating humour will engage your audience and make it more likely that they will remember and share your story. Laugh at yourself or a situation you found yourself in, never at someone else, and steer clear of jokes related to religion, race, gender or politics. Before you spread that story far and wide, run it by a few friends or colleagues first, just to make sure it is actually funny as well as appropriate.


Hold something back


After the tips above talking about being honest and open, you shouldn’t reveal everything all at once, instead, divulge a little at a time and hint at something more – this will keep people interested and coming back. Break your story into chunks or chapters that are connected to one another and tell them one at a time — learn from popular TV shows and master the art of the cliff-hanger. The best way to do this is map out all of the content you want to share with your audience and break it up into bite-sized pieces, ones that will be able to stand alone. In the end, your messaging needs to be enticing but straight forward and human but not ‘cringeworthy’ — to make sure of that, get your team and friends to read through it and give you their honest feedback.


Jo Sabin is the community manager of DesignCrowd.com.au, a logo, web and graphic design marketplace.


Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? . Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.