As a human race, we have been telling stories for millennia. Storytelling is ingrained in our culture and histories. Since the beginning we have sought to write down and record our stories and we love to retell old stories and create new stories.
Storytelling brings us together and helps us connect with each other through common emotions, situations, pains, and causes for celebration. Through stories we teach and instruct and relate to others in a way that prompts the listener to become the storyteller.
As a marketer or small-business owner trying to reach more customers and better relate to consumers, you can use that innate desire to tell and listen to stories to relate to potential customers.
3 types of stories for your company to tell
What stories can you tell? What do people want to listen to from a company? Below are three types of stories any company can weave into their content strategies.
1. Tell your story
Telling your story isn’t a one-time event on the side of your product packaging and on the about page of your website. I might read about the beginnings of Raisin Bran if I’m bored out of my mind at the breakfast table and not rushing out the door in the morning. I am for sure not going to seek out your story online when I could be doing a thousand other much more interesting things like scrolling the political rants on my Facebook page.
Telling your story is something you weave into your product pages, blog posts, advertising, and any other content you publish. Don’t focus on the how story of you and your buddies in the early days in your parents’ garage or the countless brick walls you hit along the way. Instead focus on the why story of your company and products or services. Portray the vision of why you do what you do, why it’s changing the world, and why it’s impactful and changing people’s lives. Always focus on the consumer.
2. Tell your employees’ stories
Your employees should be your first and most loyal ambassadors. How has your company impacted their lives? What about their lives draws them to further your company’s mission? What personal stories do they have that others can relate to?
Telling your employees’ stories is a bit trickier for smaller companies and you may get limited content compared to large companies. But it’s certainly worthwhile no matter how few employees you have.
3. Tell your customers’ stories
Or, better yet, get your customers to tell their own stories. (But that’s an article in itself for another time.)
Your customers buy from you or use your services for a reason. Tap into their loyalty and passion and use them for content creation ideas.
Using real stories makes your brand more human and relatable. Real stories are free from company and corporate fluff that turns people off from company-created content. They help you get away from focusing on pushing a particular product and help you better show the actual benefits and effects of your products and services overall.
Some industries such as health and fitness naturally lend themselves to customer success stories since the industries are focused wholly on improving how we feel about ourselves. But many industries have happy customers with real, relatable stories just waiting to be shared.
Finding the right voice
Let’s focus in on storytelling specifically in blogs and written content–like on your corporate blog or other blogs like here on CrowdReviews.
Overall, readers are more attracted to relaxed, easy-going, blog-like posts that they can relate to, rather than the typical, run-of-the-mill business content.
One very simple reason we’re more attracted to blog-esque content is that it’s simpler and quicker to read. We don’t read online the way we read fiction novels. We’re a skimming society–speed reading or scanning for the important points so we can move on. Stories are easier to absorb and more likely to attract and retain readers than business-y “this is our company and these are the specs of our products” junk.
Another compelling reason to move away from a strictly business voice and develop a more real, relatable voice is that people will trust you more. We naturally trust those we can relate to so if your company blog is stiff and unfeeling, you will have difficulty developing trust with your potential customers. Personality shows you’re human and as a human you can be likeable. If you’re a professional, corporate front, you’ll have a much more difficult time connecting with people.
Admittedly, developing more personable content is difficult for some industries. Consumers wouldn’t likely take to a financial institution that seems to have a casual personality. But even strict industries can be human to some extent.
Through storytelling we can focus much more on the reader. Human nature is such that we like to talk about ourselves much more than we like to listen to others talk about themselves.
Our relationship with companies is the same way. No one wants to sit and listen to a company talk about who they are, what they do, and how awesome their products are. Storytelling allows companies to make the content much more about the reader and, while not specifically letting the consumer talk about themselves, allows the reader to connect with the content on a personal level. The more you can talk about the reader in their terms, the better (which is not traditional business literature).
Making it about the reader doesn’t mean telling the reader that they can do x, y, and z with your products. Rather, a colloquial, relaxed tone on a blog that speaks to the readers’ frustrations and relates to them on a personal level is much more effective in securing your readers’ trust and helping them see how your products and services can improve their lives.
One phenomenal example of personable content is Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday series on Moz.com. Rand takes difficult topics and makes them understandable and reachable, never pushes his company’s services, and has a light, fun tone as he instructs. I constantly go back to his content for those reasons and I trust what he says as an industry leader.
Writing from experience
In a similar vein, writing from expertise and experience rather than writing like an academic report is another strategy that boosts readership and engagement. If it’s complicated, people won’t read it.
In my example of Rand Fishkin above, he is unarguably an expert in his field, but his writing and presentations are far from complicated and academic. Becoming a thought leader or industry expert doesn’t mean writing for the Scientific Journal. Indeed, if you write in a difficult style people don’t engage with, you definitely won’t become a thought leader.
As readers, we seek expertise. We search to find those who have done what we’re seeking to do and learn the “secret to success.” Your potential customers are seeking people who have done it, who know what they’re talking about, and who can share their expertise in an easy-to-read manner. Put another way, they don’t want the studies, they want your interpretations and practical applications of the studies.
You see this principle played out in tech commercials quite often. Take the iPhone 7 commercials as an example. The vast majority of the commercials don’t talk about the tech and specs at all and instead demonstrate the benefits through a story showing the impact of the iPhone 7 on the life of the main character and those around him or her.
Writing can be the same way and successful bloggers show their expertise through experience rather than excessive words and academic language. Don’t tell me that the battery is a Li-Po 1440 mAh. Tell me that you watched two episodes of Friends on the train into work, used your phone for various things all day, caught up on House of Cards on the way home, and finished uploading all your photos to Facebook from the wedding last weekend and your battery was still at 62%. Make me laugh or let me know you feel my pain. I can relate to that type of writing and I’ll want to continue to read.
Of course certain industries and audiences demand academic-type writing. Health care and medicinal B2B content often needs to be serious and technical. But perhaps the B2C side doesn’t. You need to know and understand your audience and figure out what works best for you.
There is a time and a place for the technical and academic-type writing. Your website should have the specs of your product and the necessary details that answer questions any consumer might seek. Just remember that in your general communications including blogging, web content, social media, etc. stories possess the ability to connect you with consumers on a personal level and establish you as a thought leader and expert in your industry.
Tell your story, tell your employees’ stories, and tell your customers’ stories. Tell stories that connect with your audience and their pain points and emotions. If you seek further tools for establishing a presence and telling your story online, check out the resources at BoostUniversity.
Go tell your story!
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