• Bill McMahon

What is Business Storytelling?

Updated: Dec 12, 2018


In the last few years, Business Storytelling has become a major buzzword. Are you asking yourself, “Why is this a thing?” Many business owners and C-Level executives find it difficult to understand the importance of Storytelling to their marketing and branding. They get stuck in the mindset that sales of their products or services are driven by statistics. But that’s not how it works. And for small-to-medium size business owners, who lack a huge promotional budget, understanding the basics of effective business storytelling can make a huge difference in scaling their business.

People don’t buy intellectually, they buy emotionally. The statistics only serve for them to justify their emotional purchase to themselves. So what moves your prospects to buy or not buy what you’re selling? Storytelling has a lot to do with it. It helps establish your brand, appeal to your customer’s emotions, and inspires trust. Once all that is in place, your prospect is far more likely to convert into a client.

So what is effective business storytelling? A narrative that tells not just the bare bones of how/when/why your company was formed, but illustrates the driving passion that fuels you and your team. Why do you love what you do? What makes you so enthusiastic about helping your clients? Why do your existing clients remain your clients? If you can communicate that, you will have taken a huge first step toward engaging your audience fully. Don’t be afraid to make your story personal, with an anecdote or an experience you can share. Humor is a good tool, but be sure to keep it appropriate. You don’t want to offend or alienate your reader.

Your business story doesn’t necessarily need to be epic or complicated – in fact, simple and straightforward is best. Clear, concise and compelling content is key to effective communication, whether on your company website, promotional copy, videos or any other media. Authenticity is key here; don’t exaggerate either your business narrative or the results you achieved for your clients. Testimonials are a good thing, but they should be honest and direct, and verifiable.

And finding the right voice for your business – the correct tone, mood and verbiage – is a critical component to reaching your ideal clients. For instance, I have written blogs for a high-level custom jeweler, a security consulting firm, and an e-newsletter for a Broadway producer, and each has its own distinct voice. Creatively I’m a playwright, and I have been told I excel at distinguishing each of my characters’ voices. When I’m helping a client craft their unique business voice, I think of their business the same way I think of my characters – each with its own background, motivation and mission.

If you’re creating your own content, or having a member of your team do it, be sure to proofread everything, at least two or three times. Then have another team member look it over just to be sure. Nothing undermines your branding like having misspelled words and/or grammatical errors in your copy. It damages your first impression, makes you look unprofessional, and erects a wall between you and your ideal clients. I know this sounds rudimentary, but you’d be amazed at what I have found online.

And finally, it’s a good idea to check out your competition’s storytelling on their websites or other copy. You don’t want to copy their content, but you do want to explore how you can distinguish your story from theirs.

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