Storytelling – A Great Way To Do Business

When it comes to marketing, what makes one new brand successful, while another struggles to get off the ground? In most cases it’s backstory, with the emphasis on story. Building a business, and increasing brand awareness using a good story, is nothing new. Storytelling has been around since time immemorial but has come to increased prominence with the advent of the internet, social media, and ecommerce.

Why storytelling is increasingly important

With the exponential growth of e-marketing, consumers can no longer make decisions on where to shop, based on whether they like the shopkeeper or his staff. Back in the day, shoppers would happily pay an extra couple of pence for an item in one shop, because they liked the shop, owner, or staff. Now, with increasing e-commerce, that personal contact has gone.

What the new start-up, or e-retailer has to do, is cultivate a digital sense of trust and personal attention, giving the consumer a subconscious picture of the kind of person they are dealing with, and how they relate to them. This is where an effective personal/product story comes to the fore.

Examples of a story that has built businesses

The following story outline can be altered to apply to any number of business types. For instance, a language learning app could be the brainchild of someone who felt acutely embarrassed, because they couldn’t have a basic conversation with the locals on their foreign holiday. A smartphone app might have been developed by someone who wanted to help a forgetful relative locate keys, spectacles, wallet, or handbag.

One of the biggest growth markets of the last decade is the natural wellness business. Specifically, the manufacture and use of CBD oil, that might help alleviate a whole range of pain and anxiety problems. All of the sites have a story to tell, and they go something like this.

Story beginning, background

How the desire to help others, and the hit and miss efforts required to find a product that worked, led said entrepreneur to more fully research the particular product type. The mere fact that they undertook this research for the benefit of others, puts them in a good light with potential clients. They, or you, are a nice guy/girl, they’re considerate, and thoughtful.

Why did they decide to start their own company?

Because they didn’t want others going through what they went through when searching for a product that worked. Because they felt in many instances’ customers were being misled. Product information was minimal and often misleading. they wanted to change that, offering total transparency regarding the manufacturing process, and more information regarding what each specific product was designed to do. Again – their actions were carried out to help others, to provide others a better experience when they choose to try the particular product.

Why should consumers buy their product, rather than a competitor’s?

Because from personal experience, the entrepreneur understands what the consumer wants to get out of the product, and has designed or manufactured the product with the user’s needs in mind.

Keep the story basic

Keep your story simple. Remember, your story is going to form the basis of your brand building. Many start-ups offer a company mission statement. This could be endeavouring to use only materials sourced from sustainable areas. Or to reduce their carbon footprint, by using sustainable power to run their manufacturing plant, and recyclable materials for packaging. Other mission statements would run something like:

  • Our mission is to educate everyone about the benefits of [product].
  • Our mission is to help others enjoy the finest quality [product] available.
  • Our mission is to provide a better understanding of the use of [product].

However, while the mission statement may be all about your company and its goals; how it was conceived, and why it exists, should be about why you want to help others (consumers), how you intend to go about it, and what your plans are for the future. Perhaps the development of other complimentary products.

While storytelling may not be necessary for large or well-established businesses; for start-ups, a good story can be the difference between a consumer navigating to your product(s) – or those of a competitor.

About the Author

Ciaran Hourican, Director of H-Training who are experts in sales training and leadership programmes. They specialise in helping small and medium size businesses with lead generation and driving sales.