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17 August 2014

How do you craft Compelling Business Stories?

In the previous post, we outlined the 4 Stories Your Business Must Share and promised to give you some help this week on building YOUR Key Business Stories.

Stories are how we connect and relate to people and with all our various media and communication channels, knowing how to craft a compelling story is more important now than ever. The strongest leaders, the best CEO’s, Rights Activists, Fundraisers, Actors, Directors – all have smarts, charisma and drive, but to move people, motivate and inspire people to take action, they are also great Storytellers.

The key to people’s hearts is through stories – you can then add your supporting facts and figures to appeal to logic and pragmatic reasoning. Nonprofit stories have the unique ability to allow people to feel and want to be a part of something bigger. Sales people can use stories to relate the hero power of their product. Business owners can engage customers to root for their success with their story of how they came to be and where they plan to grow. Stories are also easy to share, repeat and build teams of supporters. When you share YOUR well constructed, well thought out messages, you give people the power to pass along your story in their own voice and become your advocates.

  • Stories are emotional, sentimental, connect human experiences – and can balance facts, figures, data and intellectual rational.
  • The best stories are the ones you remember, move you to share or take action.
  • People will forget what you told them. They’ll forget what you did. But they’ll never forget how you made them feel – through stories.
  • Don’t make your story about your organization, or what you did, make it about your cause and clients, problems and results.
  • Storytelling doesn’t have to live within the marketing or development team. Employees, volunteers, supporters, all can contribute to a culture of storytelling, especially with guidance, instruction and an understanding of the mission and values.

Story Elements:

1. Put yourself in the shoes of the audience. What might be their previous experiences, preconceived notions, product knowledge or education level, hesitation, obstacles or objections to your business or product. {B2B or B2C Audiences, Individuals vs. Corporations}

2. Use LOTS – Language Of The Senses – to connect. Avoid jargon and repeating words. Choose vivid descriptors {sparkling, shining, fragile . . .}

3. Develop stories that bring context to your listeners.{Examples – early stages of business, shoe string budget, seeking investors, growing pains}.

4. Use traditional story framework: reality is introduced, conflict arrives, there is a struggle, the conflict is resolved, a new reality exists. You can use a truncated version of this formula for your story or parts of it but the most compelling stories are about over coming obstacles.

5. Be true, be authentic in your delivery. If it doesn’t sound like YOU delivering the story, you’ll lose audience, won’t make the emotional connections and potentially miss making the connections or compelling your listener to take action.

Grab a pen & paper {dating myself here} or, okay, laptop, tablet, whatever – and start constructing your stories. Be purposeful, specific and practice. Try them out and see what sticks with people. Crafting compelling messages is just half of the equation. You’ve got to know them to be able to easily relate them. Don’t just wing’ it. 

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!

-sks