“Storytelling” has become a word that has found it’s way into the business world. And though storytelling has been around for ages, only recently has the business community recognized the effect of strategic storytelling. Today storytelling is used to position brands, transform business, engage customers and align employees. When properly used, storytelling is a pull, not push, strategy as it involves engagement and interaction from the audience. Great leaders in history have long understood this power of telling a story to unite people and call for action. These leaders, and now the business community, understand the process of changing one mind or the whole world must begin with a story.
Telling Your Story
One of my favorite hobbies is cooking and I enjoy watching cooking shows on TV. One of my favorite shows is “The Next Food Network Star”. During the last season there were two contestants; Justin Warner, a “Rebel With a Culinary Cause” and Emily Ellyn, with her “Retro Rad” style of cuisine. In the beginning of the season Justin was quiet and a bit of a mystery, while Emily had a cool look and quirky style. The producers and judges kept asking these contestants to “tell your story of who you are or else people will not care about you, your food or your show.” By the middle of the season, Justin was telling the story of how he was inspired to become a chef by his father and reminisced about cooking with him before he passed away. Emily, on the other hand, kept repeating that she was “Retro Rad” (whatever that meant) and refused to talk about her past. By the finale, as you can guess, Emily was long gone and Justin was the winner.
The bottom-line is, that the contestant with a memorable, relatable story won. The producers knew that we all want to be told a story and even if you think a show is about cooking, it’s really about someone’s story of cooking. Think about events such as the Olympics. We become fascinated with the stories behind the people who are competing. It draws us to them and it makes us care. They are no longer names and faces to us, but people whom we have come to know and love. This is the power and magic that is storytelling. And you can use this same power and magic to get results for your business.
Everyone Loves a Story
Since the first cave paintings, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. We start learning to listen to stories as a baby, and spend the rest of our lives telling stories. It gives our connections the chance to really feel like they know us. Think about it – when was the last time you asked a friend how their day was? You wanted that connection to them through their story. As you learn the stories of the people you are connected to, and they learn yours, your relationship inevitably grows stronger. The business world has learned that this effect applies to not only our relationships with people but brands as well.
We often think of brands as people and what better way to connect someone to your brand than through story. Abstract communications are dull and dry and people simply aren’t moved to action by getting all the facts and figures. But when we are absorbed in a story we are moved emotionally. Storytelling doesn’t replace analytical thinking but supplements it by enabling us to imagine new possibilities. An emotional connection through a story can make a company come alive so that the audience truly knows, likes and trusts what it has to offer.
Be Remembered With Your Story
Storytelling delivers and it delivers quickly. This makes it perfectly in tune with web-speed marketing where you need to reach people in a matter of seconds. People get the idea, not slowly and painfully by the accumulation of evidence and details. With storytelling, people can get the idea right away. Great storytelling touches our hearts as well as our heads and gets us to feel as well as think. The emotions produced from a great story resonate more effectively with people and the message stays with them longer. Something every company wants their message to do.
I had a friend who had a terrific story about how he received confirmation that he was meant to start his new business. It was a warm, genuine and true story that he told under 2 minutes and by the end you were rooting for him and his start-up. He confessed to me that it was “kryptonite” and made otherwise busy executives, who appeared to have no time for him, stop and hear what he had to say. I feel sure that this story, this kryptonite, helped him get the backing to achieve the success he has today.
Develop Your “Kryptonite”
By connecting with people emotionally, storytelling opens a channel for mental connections to take place, a channel through which key messages, facts, and relevant information can flow. Information alone almost never changes people’s minds, let alone their lives, but logic with feeling can. So develop your company story, and make sure that it immediately draws the listener into the scene. Your story should have a beginning, middle and suspenseful end that is unforgettable. Also make sure that your product is integral to the story. And finally, be sure your story is easy to retell so others may share your story.
Once you have your story, use it in your Twitter profile, elevator pitch, cover letter, branding campaign or “about me” page as an opportunity to win people over. Create opportunities by communicating exactly who you are with your own “kryptonite”.