By Susan Payton, of The Business of Stories

If you are a regular reader of any marketing columns or blogs (err, like the one you’re reading now), I am pretty sure you will have come across recent advice about needing to brush up on your storytelling skills!

Storytelling does seem to be hot topic these days. In fact, HubSpot predicts that storytelling will be the most important business skill of the next 5 years.

But if, up to now, your idea of telling stories has been reading a bedtime tale to your little one, you may be wondering what it’s all about, where it fits into your business and how on earth you go about it. So, let’s start with why it’s so important.

Marketing has changed. 

Since the dawn of social media, and in particular the birth of Facebook in 2004, more and more, we are looking for a brand’s story. We don’t just want to buy their stuff, we want to buy into their mission and vision.

And, savvy business owners have noticed the shift away from transactional selling, towards marketing that focuses first on the stuff that relationships are built on – connection and trust.

As marketing expert & best-selling author Seth Godin says, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell”.

Sharing your story is about being open about who you are and why you do what you do, so that people can get to know, like and trust you – before they consider doing business with you.

As a consumer yourself, you make daily choices about which businesses and brands you want to buy into, which clothes you wear, which shops you visit, where you get your hair done and where you stop for coffee. Think about the brands you love. How do they make you feel? What is about them that you value?

Cutting through the noise

Storytelling also helps you to stand out from the crowd.  As a business owner in a globally-connected world, sharing your story is one of the few ways left to differentiate yourself. Your story is, of course, unique. No-one else has it!  It’s the one thing your competitors can’t copy.

And there’s more good news – you already have your story. It’s not something you’ve got to acquire. It already exists.

Of course, it needs to be crafted and told properly. Story is never about ‘dumping’, it needs to be clear, concise, cohesive and highly relevant to your audience. Ultimately it needs to make your audience feel something and be inspired to take action.

Getting started

So, you get that story is important, but which ones do you tell? Here are some things to think about as you start to explore the stories in your business:

  1. Start with unpacking your own personal story. What led you here to where you are today? Why are you doing what you now do? What do you want to be known for?
  1. Then get clear on the story of your business. Why does it exist? And why should people care? What does it stand for? What difference does it exist to make?
  1. And finally, it is critical to understand your customer’s story. What is going on for them? Where are they now and where do they want to be? Where do you fit into their story?

Once you understand the sweet spot between these stories, you can start to create a clear, compelling and consistent brand narrative that will engage and connect with your target market.

And if you don’t?

As CBE Business Woman of the Year Lady Karren Brady recently said, “No matter how advanced the technology, it will never replace our need for human connection”.

People will always buy from people and, unfortunately, if you are not using your story to give people a reason to connect with you, you run the risk of losing out – to better storytellers!

Like more help?

If you would like more help telling better stories, here are a couple of ways I can help you get started on your storytelling journey:

  1. Download my free workbook at brandstoryworkbook.com
  2. Come along to one of my mini workshops. The next on is in Chichester on Friday 11th May 2018. Click here for more info.

 

Susan Payton is a story strategist. You can check out her website at www.thebusinessofstories.com