You might think that storytelling has no place in business. In fact, sharing your story is one of the key ways that you can communicate with your customers. A story isn’t just something fictional, a bedtime story for the kids. It’s a way of letting people know that you understand them.
Let me show you what I mean.
Is it still hot?
As I write this we’re in the grip of a heatwave that feels endless. Whenever I check the forecast the raincloud symbol moves a few days further on that it was before. I’ve had more conversations than I can count about how hot it is in the last month. Even for a nation that’s obsessed with talking about the weather, this is extreme.
The point is, every conversation has followed a formula. It starts with a general comment on whether it’s hotter or cooler than the previous day or whether there’s any shade. Then we move on to specifics about whether we like it or find it a bit too hot. For the record, if it goes above 25 degrees I’m in the latter camp unless I’m reclining by a swimming pool. Then we talk about how it’s affected our daily activities.
Now, those conversations aren’t great literary works. But they are stories. A story follows a predictable pattern and only gets lifted out of the ordinary if someone says something unexpected. Like the time I asked a fellow mum at the school gates what she’d got planned for the day and she was taking one of her chickens to the vet.
How does that work for business?
When you share a story in real life it helps you get to know people better. Our day to day conversations are stories with predictable rhythms, but they give us insight into other people’s lives. The same applies in business. When you tell your customers a story about something that happened to you and how you got through it, they can tell if you’re their sort of person. People will either want to know more or they’ll walk away. Generally, the ones that walk away aren’t the people you want to do business with anyway.
One of the best ways of marketing your business is to show people how your product or service can help them to change something. You might be helping them to solve a problem or offering something that makes their life better. Either way, a story can help you to show them the transformation. You start with a couple of paragraphs that describe where they are now then tell them the story of how things can change. By the time you’ve finished they have a vision of themselves with the problem solved.
Every blog can tell a story but throwing in the odd case study has the added advantage of providing proof of your credentials. It’s a subtle way of saying “look – this person paid us money and they’re happy”. It also fits a story structure really well.
Good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. In a case study the beginning could be the problem. For example, a family with an overgrown garden and limited space for the kids to play outside. The middle could be the story of how the gardener came up with a new design and did the work with a minimum of fuss. The story ends with a happy family having barbecues and playing ball games in their lovely new garden.*
If you’d like to talk about how telling a good story could work for your business, get in touch.
Neil Patel is a content marketing genius. If you’d like to try writing some case studies this blog post will get you started.
*In case you were wondering, that was my garden!