Who doesn’t love a good story? Whether it’s down the pub with your friends reliving an old memory, sharing a book with your children or immersing yourself in the latest adventure created by your favourite author?
Storytelling is an age-old art we, as humans, have used since the dawn of time to share experiences and knowledge with those around us and build a sense of belonging and community.
That is why storytelling is one of the most powerful marketing tools there is when it comes to attracting people to your business.
A well-crafted story has the power to influence decision-making by tapping into deep-seated emotional and psychological triggers in those reading it, allowing you to have influence over them.
When you tell stories that capture that attention, you’ll begin to attract more of the people who are interested in what you have to offer and you start to build up a rapport with them.
That rapport builds their trust in you and means they are more likely to buy into you and whatever it is you are selling.
You need to remember – when it comes down to it, people buy from people. They have to like you and trust you before they invest in you.
Fortunately, as a small business owner, you are perfectly placed to put yourself front and centre of the “story” you are telling about your business.
So, how can you tap into the power of storytelling for your business.
1. Your why?
Your WHY is the essence of your business and should be the driving force behind everything you do and create. So the first step of creating a brand story is to get the essence of your story. What inspires you to do the work you do and build your business? What drives you to show up each day and do what you do?
2. The change moment
Another key element to any good story is the change moment or the catalyst moment – that moment when something happens or you realise something and it spurs you to start your business.
What was that moment? What happened? How did you feel about it and how did it lead you to step away from your life/work as it was before to start your business.
It does not have to be a negative catalyst – it could be the birth of a baby or moving to a new place – but it’s that eureka moment!
This is the moment in a film when the hero (you) faces a big disaster such as a massive meteor hurtling to earth and they leap into action to save the day.
3. Your rising moment
This is what happens after you experienced that major obstacle or change. This is where you describe what you did as a result of your catalyst moment. How did you rise up to overcome your biggest obstacle or start again from scratch?
This is where, in the film, we see the hero do amazing, brave things to save the earth and come out the other side for a happy ending.
4. What do you do, really?
The “really” part in this is important. In this part of the story you want to tell what is your biggest talent and secret superpower.
Some of you may have heard me use the expression before about selling the sizzle, not the sausage.
What I mean by that is you need to sell the benefits of what you do, the transformation you offer to those who buy your product or service, rather than just the features of the product or service.
Think of a cleaner, whose service is that they come in and clean your house, but their superpower – the transformation they offer their clients – is a sparkling clean, tidy house with clean sheets on the bed, washing and ironing all done, clean oven, sparkling taps etc.
What’s your sizzle?
5. Paint a picture
At this point, you need to relate the transformation you provide to what it is your potential client really wants and needs.
The better you understand them the easier it is to step into their shoes and understand their pain and desires.
Going back to our cleaner, their clients’ biggest pain point may be that they work hard all week and then are stuck cleaning the house all weekend. Their biggest desire is that they have more free time at weekends to spend with friends or family, or out doing more of what they enjoy doing without having to worry that their house is dirty and messy.
Paint them a picture of how their life will be better when they use your service.
6. Your brand mantra
Can you sum up your story, or what your business is about, in just a few words? Do you have a mantra or slogan that describes how you want people to feel about your business and what you want them to remember about you.
I recently attended a networking event where the guest speaker was a former BBC investigative journalist who spoke to us about using storytelling for business and he spoke about the Power of Six. Not the rule of six, which we all became familiar with during this pandemic, but the power of a six word slogan to sum up your message.
He referred to the Government’s Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives mantra during the pandemic. It’s short, snappy and memorable. Can you create one for your business?
Mine is By the Side of Small Business Owners.
7. Inspired Action
The last step is making sure that your story leads those who are reading it or hearing it to take the next step in their journey to doing business with you.
This is your call to action and should help people understand the next step they should take, such as call you, visit your website or access some free resource you offer.
And those are the seven steps that make up your brand story.
It’s important to remember that your business will not only have one story. There may be many catalyst moments you have experienced, or different services you offer bring different transformations.
You may have several different client avatars with different pains and desires that your stories need to address.
We are all living new stories every day, so try to plug in to the things that happen and consider how you can relate them to your business in a way that will interest and help your potential clients and help them to get to know you and trust you.
Then use those stories at every possible opportunity, such as in your networking pitch or on social media or your blog.
It’s a great way of “selling” without sounding like a used car salesman because you can use stories to switch the attention away from directly “selling” what you do, to focus on how you can help your clients and how you can transform their lives and make them feel good.