Three tenets of effective storytelling

As human beings, stories engage us. That is why storytelling is an essential tool to build your business.

In business, we have an ulterior motive for our storytelling. We want our customers to think of us when they are making the purchase. Even then, the tenets of compelling storytelling do not change.

Firstly, a weak story will never find an audience. Your audience should feel connected to and take something away from the story. Secondly, your story’s premise may be similar to a hundred others; what makes it unique is you, which needs to be a part of your narrative.

What has changed over the past few years is the availability of tools to present our stories. Creating fancy videos and beautiful graphics is no longer limited to companies with big budgets — anyone with a decent camera and a few apps can create engaging content.

But what constitutes a good story? How can it be used effectively? How can you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Let’s take a look.

1. Bones

We remember stories for the characters, their journeys and the outcome.

Who are the characters in your story? Is it your product or your technology?

What journey do you want your prospect to undertake? Is it finding a low-cost, effective solution to their problem or an introduction to a whole new way of doing inventory management?

What will be their take-away from the story? Is it information about the latest in the industry or an opportunity to make a change?

Whether it’s done for a campaign or your brand, answering these questions will help you set a foundation for developing storytelling as a competitive advantage.

2. Flesh

To flesh out the story, you need to identify the stage in the buying cycle where this story will influence your audience to take the action you desire.

Are you trying to build your expertise with them in the consideration stage, and do you want them to give their contact details for a demo?

Once you have established these goals, identify the format that would yield results. Would they prefer it to be an interactive rather than immersive tactic? Or do they like to hear the story from a human?

Presenting the story through a medium of the audience’s choice is crucial for success. A profoundly engaging story will not yield the desired results if it is delivered through the wrong channel.

3. Outer skin

The look, feel and voice of your brand should always be consistent. It helps the audience recall their previous interactions with the brand. It builds familiarity and authenticity, which are crucial to establishing trust. Consistent messaging, tone and terminology reaffirm the source of the story for the audience.

Brand guidelines help standardize the framework across the company. You can start by defining the primary and secondary colours, fonts and basic social media templates in the initial stages of developing your brand.

Storytelling changes behaviours

Numerous research studies have proven storytelling is the most effective tool to change behaviours. Stories evoke emotions and provide meaning, which help humanize a business. And if you ever get doubtful, take Margaret Atwood’s word: “You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built in the human plan. We come with it.”

This article was orignally published on MaRS with a different title.

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