How can business stories help you connect with your customers?
When I first heard the phrase "business storytelling," I yawned a little. I loved reading stories when I was growing up: fairy tales, science fiction, talking animals and fantasy worlds. But a "business stories" just didn't sound as fun.
Luckily, I learned that business storytelling doesn't have to be something boring. Instead, it's more about sharing experiences to connect with your audience.
Think of it this way: when you meet someone for the first time, what do you hear?
“Where do you come from?”
“Tell me about yourself.”
“So, what do you do?”
And as you get to know someone on a deeper level, what are some things you share?
Successes and failures
What something means to you
Business storytelling shares these things as well. But there’s a tricky part.
When you create content, you don’t know what your customer wants to know in a given moment. You also can’t interact in real time.
However, you can still connect with your customer. Well-crafted business stories can draw your customer in and get their attention. That’s your chance to share your passion, energy, and feelings.
Here are five types of stories you can tell to connect with your customers. Let’s dive in.
Everyone who meets you has to answer that identity question for the first time at some point. That’s your chance to talk about a couple of things:
Your origin story
Your values - what brought you to where you are today
Just like comic book superheroes, your business has an origin story. How did your business start?
Maybe it had humble beginnings in a garage, like Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Maybe there was a moment of inspiration. Or a series of events that made the founding of the company seem like it was meant to be.
What problems were you tackling? M&M’s “melt in your mouth, not in your hand” slogan originated because eating chocolate in the hot summer months was too messy.
On the other hand, maybe you found a new way to make use of something that no one else had. For example, take a look at how Post-it notes were invented.
As for values, take a look at Patagonia. They are “in business to save our home planet.” Their blog posts stories that share what they value: beauty of the outdoors, fighting climate change, and political activism.
Whether that’s inspiring or too intense for you, those stories stand out from those just say, “buy our clothing.”
Your origin story can be bold or humble, funny or sad, on purpose or by accident. Your values can be inspiring, endearing, or intense. Whatever tone you choose, this type of business story can help your customers learn where you really come from.
Many people and businesses only tell people what they do. However, you can use business storytelling to help people experience what you do.
People all over the world know Marvel Entertainment’s movies well. But with their behind-the-scenes look at Spider-Man: Far From Home, the audience gets a different experience.
Actually, they get three experiences: What inspired the Spider-Man suit designer? How did Tom Holland perform his stunts? Why did Jake Gyllenhaal enjoy playing his character so much?
The TOMS Story takes a very different tone. After a quick nod to its origin story, they share their efforts to live out their mission: using business to improve lives. On both its website and report, TOMS shows how they think about their business as they added to their product lines.
When you can show people why, how, and what you do, you create a connection with your audience through shared experiences.
That’s SpaceX. Pretty bold, isn’t it? Actually, they moved the timeline up to 2024. But why would anyone want to do this?
In “The Case For Mars”, Elon Musk paints the picture of going to Mars as the next step in the course of the evolution of life. He also says:
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great - and that's what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It's about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can't think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
While SpaceX is going to Mars, let’s go back to the example of Patagonia. It has two visions: one where life on earth ceases, and one where we can keep our planet livable. Patagonia shares a story about a store opening in 1988 showing why their vision exists and how they acted on it.
What excites you about your company vision? What does the future look like when your company and your customers work together? Paint that picture with business storytelling, and you’ll attract and excite like-minded customers.
Everyone has their own challenges to deal with. When you use business stories to talk about overcoming your challenges, you can connect with your customers. Why? Because they’ll know that you can relate to them. You can journey with people through their struggles, feel their pain, and celebrate their successes.
Entrepreneur.com has a few examples:
Ariana Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers
Bill Gates failed at his first attempt at entrepreneurship
Steve Jobs was forced out of his own company
Dan Lok failed at 13 businesses and racked up over $150,000 of debt before turning things around
How can you relate to your customers with business stories about your challenges and successes? What can you share about your struggles today?
Well, enough about you. How about your customers? Done well, business storytelling about customers simply becomes sharing and a seamless way to connect.
For instance, The Ritz-Carlton “stands ready to create unforgettable moments…” They share what they do for their customers here. An example:
“On Christmas Eve at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, a young guest left goldfish crackers in the snow for Santa’s reindeer. After hearing this, the Concierge set out in the dark to find the goldfish and with the help of a snow cat’s floodlights, collected every last one. On Christmas morning, the boy raced downstairs to see if the reindeer had eaten his snack. He was beyond amazed when he discovered hoof prints and crumbs magically left in the snow.”
Read some of their other stories. Then, come back and tell me you wouldn’t be delighted if your hotel treated you like that!
The Ritz-Carlton also invites people to share their experiences using the #RCMemories tag. Search that on Instagram, and you’ll find their customers engaging with and sharing photos of the hotel, food, views, and more.
Could the hotel share those photos themselves? Sure. But when their customers take the time to share them on social media or other platforms, it means more to potential customers.
How can you use business stories about your customer to inspire others? What are your customers saying about you?
Business storytelling can help you connect with your customers by sharing your experiences and values with them in a meaningful way. Whether or not you know what you want to say, professional copywriters can help. They work with you to craft and share your business stories with your customers, so that they can come to know and trust you.
Albert is a certified copywriter at Copywriters.com. Albert’s focus on the relationship between business and storytelling draws from, and is inspired by, his own life experiences. He has experience as a solopreneur, in the aerospace industry, and emergency health services.Hire Albert