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5 Tips to Master Business Storytelling

July 29, 2016

At GoEdison, we are all about variety, and of course, high quality and valuable content. With that being said, we are happy to bring you a two for one. Our friend Niraj Ranjan Rout, CEO of Hiver, was nice enough to write a guest post about how YOU can master the art of business storytelling.

FYI: If you haven’t heard of Hiver, you should definitely check it out. Long story short, Hiver turns your Gmail into a powerful collaboration tool. Learn more here

5 Tips to Master Business Storytelling

78% of CMOs think that content is the future of marketing. There is no denying the importance and the impact of content marketing.

When almost every other business have forayed into content marketing, how do you make your content stand out? In the fight for a place in the customer’s mind, business storytelling is a weapon that will serve you well.

A good story taps into the emotions of the listeners. Once you make your audience ‘feel’ your message, it will be really hard for them to forget you. Off late, marketers are often tagged as storytellers and rightly so.

“Great storytelling can make the difference between someone paying attention to you and someone just tuning you out” – Christopher S. Penn
Here are a few tips to help you nail your business story….


Follow the 5:1 rule

At my startup Hiver, we follow the 5:1 rule for self-promotion wherein with every 5 points of valuable information or tips in a piece of content, we earn the right to talk about us once.

This simple rule can help you make sure that you don’t oversell yourself and stink of self-promotion when composing your business story.

Remember, people can smell a sales pitch from a mile away and once they realize that you are out for yourself, they are not going to pay attention to anything you have to say.

Also, when you do talk about yourself, make sure to do so subtly and humbly.


Tell the story of how you lost and turned things around rather than a straight win

Your business story is a representation of your brand and brand values. When people are done listening to your story, they should feel inspired and excited. ‘We won X amount of funding within 1 month of the incubation of the idea’ does not do very well to strike a chord with your readers.

  • Tell them the story of the hardships you faced and how you overcame it as a team and as a business.
  • Show them how you learned from your mistakes and what you did to correct them.

Now that is a story people will stop to hear.

Why do we feel inspired when we listen to the speeches by famous people like Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, J.K.Rowling; they don’t list out their wins in their stories, they talk about their failures and tell you how they chose to rise from them.

Here are some examples:

  • Choose to tell the story of how you turned an angry and dissatisfied customer into a loyal one, over telling how much rating you have for customer service.
  • Rather than listing your annual profits, tell the story of the hurdles you faced as a business and how you crossed them.
  • Rather than giving a glorious account of your business, tell them about a time when you made a terrible decision and the lessons you learnt from it.


Go easy on the statistics, tell them a story

Stories are a powerful way to cut through all the nonsense and get right into the customer’s mind.

There is a scientific reasoning behind this. Stories are known to activate more parts of a listener’s brain compared to stats and facts. So, the chances of your audience really listening to you are higher when you are telling them stories rather than listing out a bunch of facts.
Most times, the really interesting part is buried way deep under the statistics and the facts. If you want to sweep your listeners off their feet – it should be the other way round. You have to get creative and use statistics to support your stories – not the other way round; use them as proof for your narrative, don’t make them the crux of it.


Stay away from exaggeration

Of course, your story has to be engaging and interesting to be able to grab your consumer’s attention, but it doesn’t mean you forget that you are telling a business story and not screenwriting for a movie.

Uncalled for exaggeration, unnecessary romanticization, and incredible plot twists are an absolute no. Remember, you as a business should not sell fluff, it will add no value and more often than not, will backfire on you.

Don’t forget that your audience isn’t going to be a bunch of teenagers! Keep your stories succinct and precise, yet powerful.

A few points to take away here:

  • Make the story itself engaging, but keep the storytelling simple and neat.
  • Maintain a clear order and flow throughout the story, for example, make it chronological.
  • Don’t talk about your speculations and personal introspections in these stories, unless you have a point.

Don’t do an information overload of your features

An average human reads about 5000 marketing messages every day; that’s a lot!

So, are you really going to turn your marketing message into another information dump on them, which is going to bring no results whatsoever?

A crisp and clean story with only the necessary details – enough to get them hooked but not enough to bore them – is what you need to craft.

Doing this will take more work and effort on your part, but going that extra mile can help you stand out from the other businesses who don’t bother to do so.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Stay away from technical lingo.
  • Use the problem-explanation-solution structure in your story and use only the necessary details.
  • Don’t just read out your product details, make it sound cool and interesting.

Final thoughts

Your business story is your brand. It should incorporate all the values you stand for as a company. It should inspire and move your customers.
“Tell me a fact and I will learn, Tell me the truth and I’ll believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever!” – Indian proverb.

Author – Niraj Ranjan Rout
Niraj is the founder of Hiver (hiverhq.com), an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.

Do you need help with telling your brands story? Shoot us a message.