As humans we love telling and hearing great stories; however telling a company’s story isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Why do we tell stories?
In a TED talk by Bill Harley, he talks about the power of storytelling. Harley suggests that stories are how we assign meaning to things. Humans are “creatures of context” and we always are looking for ways to put things in context. He defines stories as being patterns made up of events that are put together in a particular order and this order gives it meaning.
Stories or narratives have been shred in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values.
How do stories relate to marketing?
Stories help consumers remember things and play an important role product memory. As humans, we are not built to memorize lists. We understand by putting things in order so they have context. It makes more sense to determine what happened before and then what proceeds after.
As a marketer, if you want people to remember your work, you have to structure it in a story. People retain stories and have better recollection of things if it can be put in context. Not only do stories put things in context, they also evoke emotions. People relate to stories and want to know what happens next. They become invested in the storyline and characters. Your company and employees are characters in a grand storyline that can either excite or bore your audience to death.
5 elements your company’s story needs
1. You need a hero. One of the biggest mistakes company’s make is assuming they are the hero in their consumer’s story. You can recognize those types of company stories by their fear-based messages. Your customers become the hero when they become the center of your story.
To tell a compelling company story, your customer must be the hero.
2. You need a goal. With your customer hero in mind, what goal are they trying to achieve? Once you’ve identified your customer’s goal you’ll better understand how your company fits in the journey.
3. You need an obstacle. Obstacles are what make stories interesting. The gap between where your hero is today and where they want to be is the core of your compelling story.
4. You need a mentor. Your business story shouldn’t revolve around ‘saving the day’ but rather coaching your customer to reach their goal. Your company must be the Samwise Gamgee to Frodo Baggins.
5. You need a moral. What lessons can your customers learn from working with your company? Moral often take shape in the form of principles, codes of conduct, and standards.
Who actually tells the story?
Once you’ve pieced together the elements of your company’s story, it’s time to decide who actually will tell the story. In a perfect world, customers would always be the storytellers. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, thus the opportunity to tell a great story lies on both your company’s and customer’s shoulders.
Your customers tell the story form an experiential point of view, while your company will tell the story from an observant point of view. Here are some things that will go into your storytelling:
- Company history
- Press releases
- Blog articles
- Social media
Your company’s story isn’t written in stone. Each day is an opportunity grow your story and make your customers the heroes. If you haven’t began the process of telling your company’s story, start today.