Storytelling – 5 steps to get started

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

“You need a story”

If you’re a business owner or a senior leader you’ve probably heard this many times.   And if you are a start-up or a growth company, you’ve heard it even more. Is it true? Absolutely! But… what does it really mean?

Not long ago, I attended a Storytelling workshop that really surprised me. The biggest surprise was that what I heard was more about brand strategy and not much on storytelling. And there’s a difference, people!

The essence of storytelling: the customers’ perspective

Storytelling is always told from the customers’ perspective. It may be the story of a hero or character, but it is always someone the customer can readily identify. Stories just do a better job connecting with customers’ emotions and moving them to care about your message.

Stories give you the opportunity to create a narrative that inspires an action, rather than just list the benefit. Once you have your story, you will see how easy it is to leverage across multiple channels: your website, social media, emails, sales presentations, etc.

 Storytelling vs. Brand Strategy

In practical terms, the outcome of your storytelling exercise is a positioning and/or a brand strategy. You’ll get many of the elements for a story, but it won’t give you the most important part—the customer perspective narrative.  Brand strategies are about what the company has to say. Sure, that’s important, but rarely is it in a form that the customer would really want to listen to.

Getting Started – Identify the key elements of your story

If you have a brand strategy, you already have many of the elements you need to get a head start. Here is a simple 5-step process that may be helpful in getting you started:

  1. What are you trying to achieve?
  2. Who is your audience? What are they trying to achieve?
  3. What is the problem or challenge they have in accomplishing their goal?
  4. What are the concrete, tangible, different ways your solution can solve their problem?
  5. What are you asking them to do? What is needed to help them change?

Developing the story. Your story.

Our advice: always start your story with the customer’s perspective. How would the customer say it? If you can get that voice, those words right, you will have paved the way for a story that’s relevant to your audience.

Stories are target-specific

Remember that stories are target-specific. You’ll need to add or change your story slightly to engage different audiences. For example, investors care about your value proposition just as much as the customer/consumer, but also care about how you are going to grow the business and deliver a (great) return on their investment.

Need help with your story? Click here to start a conversation.