Storytelling is the next big thing about content marketing – which is quite natural because our brains are hardwired to remember and respond to stories, not facts, statistics or abstract data. By telling your audience a story you show that your business exists in real world, that it is staffed by people who are just like its clients, you make it easier to relate to you and create a unique image that will be easier to remember.
All too often business owners and marketers are extremely uncreative about their business’s story and include it into their promotion strategy just to tick off another box. In this article, we will cover some of the most widespread mistakes you should avoid.
1. Making the story too abstract
You understand that it is important to use stories for promotional purposes, but at the same time, you believe that as a business owner you should be professional, serious and unemotional. As a result, you heavily trim the fat and end up with a barebones story that doesn’t go into any details. You do transmit your message and do cover the most important points, but is your story interesting to listen?
Remember that a story is a natural part of human communication. It shouldn’t sound like a report to senior management; it should be human. Provide context, mention names, don’t shy away from descriptions.
2. Using nothing but plain text
People are much more likely to perceive and retain information about the content in the form of (or supplemented with) images and video than if it exists solely as plain text. If your idea of business storytelling can be boiled down to three paragraphs of text on “About Us” page, you may just as well not bother about it at all – nobody ever reads them anyway.
If you want your story to get to its intended audience, you should make it attractive, and the simplest way to do it is to use visuals: graphics, high-quality photos, and video. Animation works especially well, as people tend to associate animated images with their childhood and often watch them just for fun’s sake. You don’t even have to hire a studio to do it for you – some animation types, like whiteboard animation, can be produced without having significant knowledge and/or experience in the field – especially with the help of this outstanding guide.
3. Giving too much information
You’ve heard that business storytelling is all about making your company look more human by providing details about its work, story of its foundation, describing the context, mentioning names and so on. So you do exactly this. You introduce people who don’t play any role in your story, you give lots of unnecessary details and in general, let your story go on and on.
Remember that the point of a business story is, well, to make a point. If you provide too much information, the audience won’t know what is important and will lose interest – and you don’t want this.
4. Fabricating a story
Not all businesses have an exciting foundation story full of adversity and challenge. Not all can boast of doing something novel and exciting every day. Many just do their job, and the best they can tell about themselves is that they do it well. As a result, after deciding that they should try this storytelling thing, owners of such businesses sometimes decide to invent a story to try to make their organization interesting.
Don’t do this. Not only does such a story immediately sound bogus and unnatural, but anybody at least a little bit interested in you will be able to check the facts, and your attempt at fictionalizing your business will bring a much greater reputational harm than any benefits resulting from its fake story.
You don’t have to sell alpine gear or invent artificial intelligence to sound interesting – there are many ways to make any business interesting, just try to get creative.
5. Hiding Failures
Many business owners want to highlight only the best about themselves, their businesses and their products. As a result, their stories run something like this: “Jim’s life was miserable. But then he discovered Our Product, and it immediately changed things for him. Now his life is great, and he is still grateful to us”. It isn’t just unrealistic, it is boring and clichéd. There is no conflict.
We like stories not because they end well but because their characters have to overcome adversity and challenges. If there are no failures, then there is no achievement. When telling a story about your business, always make sure to tell people about the less glamorous periods in its existence – it makes it more human and makes people root for you.
6. Concentrating on yourself or your product
Many business stories run like this: “We were never satisfied with how Industry A operates. We were annoyed with mediocre products. That’s why we’ve created Our Product that does the same but more efficiently”. Again, this is clichéd, but in addition to that, it concentrates its attention on the product, while the real hero of your story should be the person who is going to use it, your customer.
We hope that these tips will help you introduce storytelling elements into your marketing strategy and do it with maximum effect – after all, knowing the don’ts is a vital part of success!