Storytelling is the currency of the modern-day writer, creative and business. We write, we draw you in, we dazzle you with a cleverly woven tale. But does it tell your story? Do you grab my attention? Does it make me want to engage and connect with your brand?
If you’ve ever read a story and felt like none of the issues you thought were going to be addressed were even answered at all: and you learnt nothing new-how would you feel? You’d feel frustrated, you’d feel disappointed- wouldn’t you?
Time is a precious commodity which is why it is imperative to tell your story carefully. It’s why your story should inform and create understanding to make it personal to your audience. Let’s take a look at some of the essential anatomy parts of storytelling;
Keep it simple: write with clarity
Caroline O’Hara wrote an article on storytelling for HBR and in it she says, ‘Not every story you tell has to be a surprising, edge-of-your-seat epic. Some of the most successful and memorable stories are relatively simple and straightforward. Don’t let needless details to detract from your core message. Work from the principle that “less is more.” One of the biggest mistakes you can make is “putting in too much detail of the wrong kind,” says Morgan. Don’t tell your audience what day of the week it was, for instance, or what shoes you were wearing if it doesn’t advance the story in an artful way. But transporting your audience with a few interesting, well-placed details — how you felt, the expression on a face, the humble beginnings of a now-great company — can help immerse your listeners and drive home your message.’
Stick to the point: allow time to edit well
Don’t add waffle if that waffle doesn’t aid your point and will not get your reader from the start of your article to the end. Your goal is to not only tell your story, and to get your audience to engage- but you want your audience to glide with ease from start to end.
Keep to the point throughout your story. Always check back to ensure you haven’t veered off. Edit and edit well- at first draft you can write it all down: but when you check your draft take out what isn’t necessary.
Don’t be caught up in a word count unless you know all of the material is golden material. Be ruthless once you come to editing. Check back to your original brief. If words or sentences don’t fit or align well then don’t be afraid to take them out.
If possible and you have time in your process before editing why not ask a trusted colleague to take a glance over what you’ve written. Can they understand the point? Would they change anything?
Does it make sense: is it jumbled?
Even if you feel you have stuck to the point throughout your storytelling piece does it flow? Or does it jump from one to many differing concepts before coming back to the original point? How can you edit the work to create the flow you will want for your intended audience?
Always take a look with fresh eyes-you’ll never spot the flaws if you haven’t had time to step away in order to refocus your mind for when you edit.
It’s a myth: it doesn’t have to be boring- even if it’s corporate
I’ve read reviews for books where people have felt the book was boring because the story was too corporate. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Keep it authentic, add weight by reminiscing from personal experience. Remember your brand is you and you are the face of your brand- and so your story should be personal.
When you write of course add your personal touch. You want people to be able to relate to the brand but people also want to get to know the face behind the brand. People want to engage and connect with people. They need to feel it’s authentic so they can place their trust within your business.
‘Because people always remember a good story. A great story that personifies your brand is what you need in order to position yourself in the most effective way.’Jeff Charles HuffPost 2017
Good examples of brands to check out that have nailed this are the likes of Lego, Adidas, Headspace, Google, Apple, Coca-Cola etc.
Think about your colour choices: colours match feelings and emotion
This sounds airy fairy: but it isn’t. Colours spark a reaction and accompanying emotion. Choose colours that not only suit your brand and those that you consistently use but that in type are kind to the eye but also say who you are and creates the right image to match your audience.
A Help scout article written by Gregory Ciotti found that ‘In a study titled “Impact of color on marketing,” researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, depending on the product. Regarding the role that color plays in branding, results from another study show that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being used for the particular brand (does the color “fit” what is being sold?).’
What will they learn from your piece: what’s your message and CTA?
According to the WorldWideWebSize.com as of Monday 21st May there are 1.82 billion indexed pages online. It’s hard to command attention amidst the noise so always aim to make your content speak quality over quantity.
Align your message within your storytelling with your brand. Always start with ‘Why’ when you write as Simon Sinek says. Then look at how and what.
Know your intended message, audience and goal of the piece/article before you start. Your call to action (CTA) should be clear and simple. You may feel like you’re stating the obvious but that’s because you know what you want your audience to do. The audience don’t forget may not know if you don’t say it. Try and put yourself in the readers shoes-then you’ll know if you’ve hit the mark.
What next: consistency, authenticity and continue to tell your business story
When you end the storytelling business piece, try to involve your audience. Ask them a question, ask them for their expertise or experience etc. Interact with them. You have started the journey but now want to aim to continue that path: and take the reader along for the ride.
Mike Kappel Forbes contributor says to, ‘Use business storytelling to strike an emotional connection with customers. Talk about how an event related to your business affected you and what you learned. This creates an immediate response that makes your story memorable and shareable.
People like to be a part of stories. Your customers can be characters in your brand. Come up with ways to get your audience involved.
For example, Patriot Software reached out to some of our customers to hear their startup stories. Black Sheep Boutique and Lamplighter Brewing Co. were among several companies featured in business storytelling examples on our blog. Showcasing these businesses directly linked our customers to a part of our story.
Telling the story of your brand is an ongoing process. Each day, your business grows, shifts, and adds new chapters to its story. Make business storytelling an essential part of your operations to attract and retain customers.’
Consistency is key along with authenticity. Clarity should always be front of mind when writing your business story along with tone. Align your goals and objectives to fit your story. Know why you are writing-make sure you research what your customer wants and decide how you fit into that.
Enjoyed this post? I’d really like to hear your thoughts- Send me your comments and opinions…..
- Do you believe in business storytelling?
- Do you invest in business storytelling?
- What brands do you feel get it right or wrong and why?
You can follow me on LinkedIn @Amber L Smith and on Twitter @Simplyamberlou. Your likes and shares let me know you’ve enjoyed the piece and are all gratefully appreciated.
Thank you for being a part of my story and journey… Amber 🙂