In a world where the consumer is spoilt of choice from increasing number of substitutes; businesses are spending a huge percentage of their budgets in marketing and public relations, in order to remain relevant in a progressively competitive and dynamic global market. Globally, the advertising market is estimated to be worth about USD 500 billion annually; and the figure keeps growing each year as more businesses and products get created. The growing spend in marketing is driven by the need for businesses to tell their stories in a clear, attractive and convincing manner to their potential customers, strategic partners and investors. And this is not an option; rather t is a necessity if you are to survive amidst the thickening competition in the market.
What makes the fairy tales interesting and memorable is the same thing that makes business stories exciting and worth listening to. In business storytelling, you will need to master five key principles that will help you to communicate about your brand, products or services better. First you will need to learn the art of speaking to people’s emotions, and then learn how to build common grounds with your target audiences. You will also need to learn how to use the power of contrast in your business storytelling, as well as learn how to apply the principle of “truth well told”; in order to deliver your messages clearly. Finally, you will need to learn how to avoid stating the obvious in your stories and focus on delivering your messages in a succinct manner.
Speaking to people’s emotions
In marketing, the underlying assumption is that people buy using their emotions and rationalize their purchase decisions later using logic. As a small business owner whose focus is on customer acquisition, you want to appeal to your customer emotions so that they can make their purchase decision fast.
For instance, when selling a phone, your marketing story should focus on how the phone will enhance the experience of the user. Your story should not focus on explaining the technical details of the features of the phone; rather it should focus on the end result which is the experience your potential customer will get when using the phone. Structure your marketing story in a way that arouses the feelings of your target audience. Remember, people will forget what you said or what you did; but they will never forget how you made them feel!
Build common grounds with your audience
Never assume that your target audience is of the same opinion as you with regard to your brand, product or service. Imposing your product on people without first creating rapport and getting a node from them to continue telling your story can be counter-productive. The human brain is structured in a way that it is more receptive to the knowns than the unknowns. As a small business, when introducing your brand, product or service to your target audience, most likely they will not be having much information about you. It is therefore good practice to start your story by building a common ground by talking about something your audience knows or identifies with; but one which relates to your brand, product or service. Your target audience will then be more receptive of the unknown in your story which is your brand, product or service.
Use the power of contrast
All your most memorable childhood stories had one thing in common; they had a villain and a hero. Throughout the story the villain instilled fear into your mind and the hero could momentarily bring some hope; before the villain smashes them again. The contrast between the villain and the hero as well as the suspense in the story continued until the end of the story where the hero emerged victorious. Your small business story telling should also take the same format; whereby you compare the challenge or problem that your clients are facing with the solution that your business is providing.
Another way to use the power of contrast in your small business story telling is to compare the now and ‘what could be’ or ‘what will be’. Here you are showing your target audience the current state of things and how things could be or things will be better by adopting or buying your brand, product or service. By giving people two contradicting options where one is better than the other, you will naturally tend to divert their attention and emotions towards the better option, which should be your brand, product or service.
Truth Well Told
The truth about your business is in most cases represented in hard data and facts. For instance if you are selling a mobile phone, hard data and facts about the features of the phone such as its storage capacity, camera pixels, the RAM speed and battery type 7 manufacturer are very important. But very few people will remember anything about the phone you are selling if your story is focused on pointing out how many gigabytes of data the phone can store or what the speed of its RAM is.
On the other hand, if you focus on telling the story based on user experiences such as the phone being able to store all favorite songs and photos for the user, then they will relate with the truth about its huge storage capacity; which is now well told specifically for the target audience’s ears and minds. In addition you can talk of the clarity of the photos taken by the phone without having to mention the exact megapixels the phone has; or talk about the how long the battery can last without having to give details about the battery specifications and manufacturers. In the end, you want to package your story in an understandable manner to a lay person by appealing to their emotions and not by showing them how superior you are by use of jargon and hard data and facts.
Avoid stating the obvious
People are very busy and they have very little time to concentrate on obvious messages and clichés. When telling your small business story, focus on the main message you want to deliver home and keep at it without deviating to obvious issues that your target audience can decipher by themselves. Be concise but ensure you are communicating all the key messages in your story even as you emphasize on brevity.
Finally, a call to action in your story is a great thing since you want to engage with your target audience after telling your small business story. However, you need to determine when the call to action is needed and when it is rather obvious in your story, hence not warranting a repetition at the end of the story. If you build a common ground with your target audience, speak to their emotions, use the power of contrast and tell the truths about your business well; then a call to action might not be a necessity. Your target audience will already have been hooked into your story and they will be obliged by their emotions to either adopt or buy your brand, products or services and rationalize their purchase later using logic.
Author: Jeremy Riro - firstname.lastname@example.org