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:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Who is your audience? What are they trying to achieve?
- What is the problem or challenge they have in accomplishing their goal?
- What are the concrete, tangible, different ways your solution can solve their problem?
- 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.