“Stories are the oldest and probably the best way to communicate ideas, truths, and beliefs. Stories are powerful.”
Stories appeal to most—if not all—audiences, and storytelling is the most genuine way you can sell someone the idea of your business. In his post on Lean Business Planning, Tim Berry talks about “stories as strategy”—specifically business strategy.
So what is storytelling in relation to business strategy? What is your story and how do you tell it?
1. The Story of You / Your Business
When it comes to your brand or business, you’ll need to go into a lot of detail. Start at the very beginning: what inspired your company? Who drove it from conception to a full-fledged business?
Then really dive into it: the solution(s) you provide, how you are unique among your competitors, what kind of industry you’re in. How has your business developed and does it have plans for expansion? Think about what its future looks like.
2. The Story of Your Product or Service
Similar to (or part of) the story of your business is what you actually create or offer. So what’s different about what you provide?
Map out each stage of your product or service: production, packaging, the buying and selling process… and what happens after purchase? Have your goods added value to something or made someone’s life easier?
3. The Story of Your Customers/Audience
Who is your product or service aimed at? Remember that your business story is defined by living, breathing beings—not faceless, nameless numbers that come and go. With this in mind, you need to really spend some time getting to know “your people.”
Consider who your customer is: what is their story; their demographics, their needs and wants? What problem, wish or desire has led them to seek out your business?
Think about your first point of contact with them and how you will maintain a connection with them long after their purchase. Would they come back for more and/or recommend you to others?
How to Tell these Stories
Once you’ve formulated and defined your story, you need to “sell” this story. But how?
- You could do it through online advertising, e.g. publishing social media posts that tell the story of your company (such as a behind-the-scenes look at your business).
- You could do it through your content, e.g. creating how-to posts that are targeted at your customers and their specific problems.
- Word of mouth: tell your story at networking events or to someone you’re sitting next to on a plane.
- You story could even frame your business plan.
The possibilities are really endless and it all depends on how much time and creativity you’re willing to put into conveying your story, i.e. storytelling. To conclude, I’ll leave you with Tim’s (slightly ominous) thoughts:
“Stories are a great way to define and communicate business strategy. A strategy that can’t be told as a story is doomed.”
Your Small Business Brand Story in 3 Steps