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Storytelling as a Business Approach

"After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world," said author Philip Pullman.

We're past the age of stuffing as many keywords into the article and calling it SEO. It's time for stories.

The truth is there is nothing complicated to understand what storytelling is. Everyone was told fairy-tales when was a kid, many of us were listening to the dad’s favorite stories on fishing and indeed, many of us like listening to success stories, in which some person passed hard way to reach his dream of becoming an entrepreneur with a multimillion-worth capital or how the company raised from nothing and now it’s listed on IPO. So, there is much in common if we apply the storytelling approach in marketing.

Basically, storytelling is a narrative way to deliver your values, concepts, and beliefs to the customer, outlined in a form of text with clear logic, exciting discourse, bright characters, and accurate storylines. The difference from content marketing is that storytelling provides a consumer with full, finished reflection or plot, often expressed in a retrospective way, instead of just sketching brief notions in separate words and phrases.

Another distinction is the storytelling doesn’t simply intend to catch a customer on a keyword to lead him to your website. Storytelling is making you really interested in what is written, although it may be not strictly related to your business agenda still it is useful, original and worthy of following other stories of this author as well. So, storytelling is also a marketing tool but way more sophisticated, delicate and of course, interesting.

The main purpose of storytelling is to create a positive image of you that can be trusted in by a client who will become loyal to you for the next years and happily consume your products or services because he will share the same philosophy as you do. And the most effective way to build this sort of trustworthy relations with a customer is to persuade him to join you on the adventurous trip through the story.

One value is a hundred times better than a dozen of clicks

To start with, you have to reassess the goals you’re about to achieve. In other words, it is critically necessary to understand what is more important to you: just to make a potential customer to click and to be led to your website with no clue he’ll stay for a little more or quit the same time, or you want to get a client who is truly realizing and sharing your milestone values. If the second option is more up to you, you should know your potential customer better by learning his interests, needs, goals, behavior and so on. That’s how you will understand who is your perfect customer. And with this knowledge, you’ll be able to create and distribute such stories that will be a real value.

Know your reader better

There are plenty of methods so you could find out what your customers are interested in. The simplest way to get these answers is to ask customers what they feel about this or that topic. Certainly, it is almost impossible to stay in touch with them physically but living in a digital era you’ve got all the tools to communicate virtually. For instance, polling the customers by email can be more effective that you could ever imagine. Just asking simple “yes/no” questions can tell you more about values customers are searching for if you pursue them that their opinion truly matters to you. If you ask them about something, you should avoid them getting an impression that this is a sort of bureaucratic boring stuff or corporative waste of time but make them feel it is an honest attempt to get their thoughts with further practical inclusion of these answers in what you do. People adore getting a chance to influence something with their opinion, it makes them feel like they have more decision-making power and their voice sounds louder to be heard and valued.

What is more, if email polls look too serious and massive to learn your customers’ opinion, you are welcome to use social media as the more flexible platform. It is quicker, easier and more relaxed way to communicate with your clients. For example, you may offer them to pass online test for determination of their professional psychological portrait. We bet it will be popular because it’s funny and by the way, who’d refuse to hear something pleasant about himself?

One more thing you can find useful in the social media is the possibility to let the customers become attached to some ongoing trend using hashtags. Being part and art in something actual is a part of modern human nature, so the customers will enjoy associating their names and photos with what they believe is of an extraordinary significance.

In order to stay in touch with your clients online you can also share with them a data of the mixed character, half-informative, and half-entertaining. For example, data in the form of diagrams, charts, ratings, infographics can be an effective tool to catch customers’ attention, to inform them about your business values and to provoke them for a feedback which is you need in the first place.

Reader is your co-fisher, not a fish itself

Telling a story is a natural way you can supply data on your values and to concepts to the customers. People enjoy listening to the stories about the things which were hidden from their eyes before and now there’s chance to explore this stuff at ease. However, when you decide to tell a story, remember what can ruin all your efforts. One of those dangers is obtrusive use of keywords in your story. The desire to include leading words in a text is understandable but may also make your story looking like a fake which was created just as tasty bait to catch a fish. Treat your reader as a co-fisher, not a fish.

If you are new to storytelling, you can find lots of guiding materials, case examples and recommendations online. Still, anything you can find there can’t become an exhaustive list of opportunities as the only thing which is limiting you in broadening storytelling potential is your own imagination. The simplest way to bring a diverse in creating and delivering a story is to make it in written but also accompany with sound form or in a video. This is a situation when all tools are good when they make your work better.

Before writing a story you have to analyze what you are going to say, how much value it will deliver to the customer, whether it will be exciting and useful. It is important to know how your story is connected to your business field and what exactly in your business can be a subject of interest to a client that will make him leading your trip through the story with a vast dose of enthusiasm. These questions need to be answered if you want to create a story worth of telling and sharing.

And despite the possibility that your story is a bit far from a direct explanation about your business essence, anything you tell has to include the references to your values as it is a true reason for writing a story. Indeed, the worst mistake you can make is to puff put the concepts of your brand from the text. No one will like it. The values of your business have to thread the story as a quality cashmere tissue. Your story has to look perfect but it has to perform its function anyway.

One more recommendation is: be sincere with a reader of your story. A customer should not hesitate whether the author of the story is telling true things or he’s just pretending to look better than he is. Being honest and authentic to the customer is the only path to establish reliable bridge of trust for further cooperation. You and your story should stay in impeccable integrity of truth and sincerity to become a base where your clients want to bring more benefits.

Rewards for reading

When continuously chasing the growth boost, often real customers are left beyond the scope of efforts. The traditional habit to give the reader something as a prize for his involvement is still an effective approach. When you publish your story online or in social media, you may encourage the customers’ activity by playing something valuable to all participants. You can invite the readers to like your story, to share it, to associate their names and photos with it or to use a related hashtag and then to reward with some prize that is, indeed, going to attract a lot more attention. What is more, if you record those who participated in your lottery, you will get a chance to make a list of your present and potential clients.

The gift you’re going to reward the customers can be anything they can appreciate and enjoy. It can be a piece of a domestic appliance, digital device, accessory or specific service, anything that will be perceived as a useful stuff and memorized for rather long time. Giving such prize is effective because it shows the customers you appreciate their time and efforts as well as you learn well what their scope of interests are and that you can deliver them with more benefits. It’s a way to say thank you for their feedback.

Real price: not burdening to you, useful for a reader

Still, when looking for something that can be a prize you may also consider the alternatives to the traditional stuff. For example, instead of rewarding with a remote charging device for mobile phone, you can also suggest your customers a paid lecture or training course in business analytical or risk management. It will demonstrate your client that you care about his development and you are interested to see him as an equal partner. At the same time it shows that you are serious about what you offer and spend money for the things can benefit in future. It’s a winning situation for both parties, especially in case if you buy a discounted service which is cheaper to you and it gives the possibility to reward more people.

Conclusion

The essence of all this is that you have to discover who is your expected customer and what are the interests and needs of this customer. Then, it is vitally important to be sincere when creating a story for your clients and to remember inclusion of your values in the text but not in the form of keywords. When a client is reading your story, it is already something, so keep in mind you’d better reward him for that. Making someone feeling good is a perfect starter for reliable business relations in future.

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