Storytelling in small business

I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love a good story. My fondest stories as a child were those I listened to as I sat on my great-grandfather’s lap. 

My great-grandfather shared stories of his life, the old country, ancestors I never met, and history I will never experience in my lifetime. He lived through two world wars, The Great Depression, and things I will never experience. 

His stories created a bond, sustained my attention for hours, and helped me understand challenges that I would never have to live because of the people who walked that path before me.

Stories get passed from generation to generation. We may forget names, facts, and details, but we always remember things in a story format.

“Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories, or common-sense advice.” 
Edward Miller 

A good story creates an emotional connection between the consumer and your brand in the business world. It motivates people to use your services, buy your products and stay loyal to your brand.

In business, storytelling should be authentic to your brand. Storytelling is a great way to build a brand narrative across many channels. 

A few ways entrepreneurs and small businesses can use storytelling include:

Employees and team members
When you encourage storytelling, it becomes part of the team culture, allowing the team to build trust with colleagues and better support one another. 

When you have a cross-functional, remote team that is culturally diverse, storytelling helps increase employee morale, build mutual respect, and better understand what each team member contributes to the team and the bigger picture. 

Instead of questions like “How is your day?” ask questions that promote storytelling to get to know a team member. A better question might be, “What is a typical Monday like for you?” Asking more specific questions opens the door to learning and helps remote employees manage stress and isolation better.

Events are all about thinking outside the box, creating an experience, and engaging the audience with your brand.

Storytelling is subjective. It humanizes your brand, giving the audience something to with each attendee experiencing and connecting with the story uniquely. Apple is a brand well-known for its storytelling.

Information communicated through a narrative versus being bombarded with data (especially in a large setting) is easier to recall and more digestible. 

When planning an event, consider every touchpoint you have with attendees throughout the event, including pre-and post-event, as an opportunity to tell your brand story. 

For example, if your company is a “green” company, deeply committed to the environment, I would expect: 

  • Artwork, content, and the design of conference materials to reflect the brand values.
  • A digital registration process.
  • A venue, speakers, and vendors who reflect your brand values.
  • Networking events with a digital exchange of information.
  • Group transportation that utilizes the most environmental options possible.
  • And, more…

When you add up all the components that make up an event, each of them is an opportunity to tell your story in a meaningful way that connects your audience to your brand.

Case studies
When done correctly, case studies can be a powerful marketing tool that brings your brands, products, and services to life. Case studies also serve as great tools to help employees tell your story and how your business adds value. 

One of the simplest ways to structure a case study is using the three key categories below to deliver the narrative. You want to make your story engaging and relatable and show that the solution provided profound value for your client.

Issue: A high-level overview of the current situation. 

  • Introduction
  • High-level overview / background
  • Define the specific challenge or conflict

Action: A high-level overview of steps taken to deliver a solution.

  • Identify the team
  • Identify stakeholders
  • Define the resources used
  • Define the actions taken to deliver a solution

Impact: The value your business delivered.

  • How did your company add value?
  • What was the impact and return on investment from the action taken?

Regardless of what channel you use or how you choose to tell your story, the key is to understand your audience. Do your research, study your target market, and find out what makes them tick and the challenges they face. Who is the primary, secondary and tertiary audience? What can they relate to? Take some time to break it down further into a brand persona. The more time you take to get to know your audience, the better your narrative will resonate.

And be prepared to meet your audience where they are at by making technology, visuals, social platforms, digital delivery, photography, and other assets part of your toolbox.

Need help crafting your story and don’t know where to start? Book your FREE 30-minute Business360 Method Strategy Session with Tammy!

Join The Business360 Community to connect with like-minded female entrepreneurs.

Photo by Maegan Martin on Unsplash

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