Our Corporate Storytelling Guide To Success
A corporate story is more than what you do. It’s more than what you make. It’s even more than your values. It’s a combination of all those things, including where you’re from, what drives you, and what makes your business and your people unique. By communicating this information, your customers can align themselves with your brand. If your brand is meaningful to your customers, they care about how you do what you do, and are interested in the history of your firm, this deep connection goes beyond the product or service. Isn’t this a marketer’s dream?
According to Forbes, people are more than 20 times more likely to remember information when conveyed via a story than the dry facts and figures. This is why corporate storytelling so important. But why is it so effective?
People love stories
Whether it’s a gritty crime novel featuring a favorite hero, a TV show or movie, or passing the time with a friend telling you about an interesting time in their life, stories draw people in. They help us connect.
Stories are powerful
Stories are told over and over, shared, passed down from one generation to another. The same story may be told in many different ways. And the best stories hold essential truths that move us.
Stories get attention
By using similar techniques to short story writers, novelists, and scriptwriters, you can grab an audience’s attention and immerse them in the world of your brand. It doesn’t take a year-long MBA to learn storytelling for corporate purposes. What is required is observation of how stories work, followed by imagination and practice to apply those concepts to your business stories.
Stories communicate corporate information more palatably
You may have something significant to say but coming out and saying it directly can come across as dry. However, by considering the storytelling angle, you can get the same message across in a more engaging and palatable way. If you want people to share and repeat your message, storytelling is the way to go.
How to Apply Corporate Storytelling
While any business has many corporate stories, it’s a good idea to think about your brand’s main story and develop this into a strong, communicable narrative. It doesn’t need to be perfect the first time. As you learn more about storytelling, you can tweak and enhance your corporate story so that it is more engaging to your target audience.
Narrative concepts to consider for corporate storytelling include:
If marketing adds value to a product or service, then aligning a corporate story with emotion or various emotions is a powerful way to involve people in your brand.
How do you want your potential customers to feel after they interact with your brand? Think about what you want him or her to do after learning your brand story. If you want your customers to empathize with you, your team, and your brand, you must first empathize with your customers. By understanding your customers, what they need, and what they care about, you can make your storytelling more relevant and moving.
Write the way people speak
Writers and publishers call this the narrative voice. Communicate your corporate story in a voice suitable for your audience. Consider your ideal customer’s age, location, profession, needs, and what he or she does for fun.
To illustrate the importance of tone of voice, imagine how you might talk to someone considering moving to a nursing home post-retirement. Compare this with how you might communicate with a seasoned skater looking to take her equipment and abilities to the pro level. Would this be the same way you’d talk to a stressed, new parent needing advice regarding a newborn?
Now that you know how to talk in your customers’ language, make sure that you also have something to say that they want to hear. A corporate story is not the place to pile on facts and figures about profits and reinvestment. Think about what your customers want? What do they want to know about you? Tell them.
Telling a fascinating story that is irrelevant to your audience is a great way to miss an opportunity to connect and convert. Tell the stories your customers will care about.
Relevance is a critical component of corporate storytelling. You can tell the same story more than once, using different methods and platforms and scenarios, as long as the stories’ heart stays relevant to the audience.
Include a character or two
There is some debate about whether or not a story can exist without a character to drive it. Now might not be the time to get involved in that debate. Having at least one person that the audience can root for can make your story more engaging.
Your main character should be doing something. It’s the doing that will elevate your good story into an excellent story. Note that if you don’t want to talk about an actual person or people, you can consider your brand, service, or product as the hero of your story.
The context of a story prevents it from ‘floating’. By including setting, time, or specific situations, you can help readers visualize your story. Context makes stories seem more real. Stories that seem more real are more memorable and easier to share.
Great stories tend to be about people overcoming or at least facing adversity. In the course of creating a business, most people will encounter adversity. Consider telling stories of how you and your team overcame challenges to become the company you are today.
KISS stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. There’s a lot to learn in marketing. Talented professionals are exploring and developing new tricks and tips every day. But whatever you do, whether it’s corporate storytelling or another marketing tactic, keep it simple. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Let that be your beacon.
You don’t need to hire a whole team of writers and you don’t need a Hollywood budget to create an excellent corporate story. Stories that are memorable and easy to retell tend to have simple concepts.
A great story can benefit from focus. Despite the many factors that go into a story, try to keep your mind on the one big idea. What is the one thing you want people to remember about this story?
You need a beginning, a middle, and an end
You will hear about the need for a beginning, a middle, and an end during any writing class. It’s an excellent place to start. Hang what you’re going to say on this familiar, accessible, well-understood, and satisfying structure.
- The beginning hooks the audience’s attention, sets up what kind of story it will be, and tells the audience what to expect.
- In the middle, you need enough meat to sustain the story. A lot needs to be happening to carry the reader through to the end. This part of the story can be very tricky. The key is to have lots to say and then refine it if necessary. You don’t want to run out of material here.
- Endings work best when they provide some closure. It can be a shock. It can satisfy by delivering what people expect. Whatever it is, the story needs to close.
Consider starting before the beginning
Many corporate stories begin at the moment the business was founded. In many cases, this misses one of the most interesting parts of a corporate story: what lead to the company being founded? What were the circumstances and decisions that lead to the creation of this business? What was the problem and who decided to solve it?
Resist the temptation to make things up to tick some storytelling boxes. A true story is more likely to come across as authentic than a more sensationalist story invented for branding. Stick to the truth and your customers will feel it.
Trust is incredibly important. It’s hard to develop but easily lost. Make sure that your storytelling is honest. You can tell your customer how much better life will be with your product or service, but make sure you mean it.
Consider your medium
Your corporate story will be written or told in different ways according to the platform. You won’t be able to tell your corporate story the same way on Medium, for instance, as you might on Twitter. Each social media network has its style, length parameters, level of formality, and demographics. You’ll need to tailor your corporate story to match.
While this might sound like a challenge, it is also a fantastic opportunity. There are many outlets available with which you can share your brand messaging. Once you’ve written your corporate story make sure to revise it so you can share it on various platforms.
Measure your story’s impact
Think carefully about what you want your reader or listener to do after hearing the story. Whether this action was performed or not can be your barometer. Do you want people to subscribe, make a purchase, or share the story? Make sure to tell them what you want them to do by providing a call to action at the end of story.
The Benefits Of Corporate Storytelling
With practice, you’ll find many stories you can tell about your business, so many angles with which to create stories that enthrall your audience and explain more about who you are. For example you might be coming up to a significant business milestone. While the figures involved might be impressive, you’re likely to have more impact by drawing the reader in with a story, perhaps a journey that describes how the company overcame its problems to achieve that milestone.
Let’s say you need investment. You are looking to attract hearts and minds for a crowdsourcing campaign. You need to explain your values. Sure, you need to describe what you will achieve, but draw the reader in with a story and they will feel like part of that story.
Internally, storytelling can be used to create a sense of identity for your business. This can help new staff and existing staff maintain a corporate culture that can be so important to a business’s success. Corporate culture is at risk from an influx of new staff, new ownership, new management, and mergers, among other situations. A strong corporate story can get everyone on board and motivate people to work together toward a shared vision.
Corporate storytelling is not necessarily a new idea. Companies have been creating corporate histories for many years. It’s applying the principles of modern storytelling that is changing things up. It is providing businesses with another useful marketing tool for connecting with their customers.
When a customer is on-board with a corporate story, it can change the way they perceive your brand forever. This means it will color the way they consider your new products or new services. And it can inform the way they talk about your brand to others. Corporate storytelling is not just about getting a visitor to click ‘buy’. It’s about helping people to understand the heart of your business and why it beats.
Since storytelling is such a great aid to communication, it can help your business in multiple ways. It can help you with advertising and marketing, attracting new customers, deepening relationships, and initiating two-way communication.
Great storytelling can also have an effect within the business. A great story can help a business attract talent, express corporate culture, build trust among staff, and increase effectiveness and productivity across teams. All the tools in the marketers arsenal should be kept sharp and at hand. Storytelling principles are useful for anyone that presents information to others, whether internally, such as human resources, or externally, such as sales.
The ability to share your message through a great story takes time to develop. The best way to become a good storyteller is to practice. Opportunities for telling stories that communicate your brand and its vision to your customers exist everywhere. Learn to see these opportunities and make the most of them by applying the above principles.
When In Doubt, Look To The Professionals
An agency like ours can give you a head start or fill in some of the gaps while you get up to speed with corporate storytelling. Our experts know how to use the power of storytelling to share your brand and your vision. Get in touch with us for more information, advice, or a free quote.