As business owners or entrepreneurs, our goal is often to persuade others — to buy into our vision for the future by doing what we’re asking of them or to hire us to provide our services or products. But few of us are persuaded by basic facts and figures to change our minds or our behaviour.
“Persuasion is the centerpiece of business activity. Customers must be convinced to buy your company’s products or services, employees and colleagues to go along with a new strategic plan or reorganization, investors to buy (or not to sell) your stock, and partners to sign the next deal. But despite the critical importance of persuasion, most executives struggle to communicate, let alone inspire. Too often, they get lost in the accoutrements of companyspeak: PowerPoint slides, dry memos, and hyperbolic missives from the corporate communications department. Even the most carefully researched and considered efforts are routinely greeted with cynicism, lassitude, or outright dismissal.” Harvard Business Review Storytelling that moves people
Create meaning with story
From ancient times, human beings have used stories to communicate, to teach and to connect with one another. It’s no different today. Stories create meaning, whether we’re telling them for personal or for business purposes. Meaning gives us a reason to care, and to then make a decision about whether we agree with what we’re being told.
Storytelling connects others to us, to our business, brand, product or service and to our plans and dreams for the future. People need to see themselves in a scenario. When we’re pitching our ideas to them, we need to tell the story of the problem we’re solving — for them — and how our vision, product or service provides the best solution. For them.
‘Yet, a lot of businesses, especially small businesses, fail to integrate storytelling in their marketing campaigns. People want to connect with businesses, with brands. Thus advertising needs to be more than just cheap tactics such as flashy pictures, humour, sex appeal, and a lot of graphics. People choose simple story-based ads over expensive action-driven ads over and over again because those exact ads, or rather, those exact stories, make people feel, make people relate, make people care. And it goes beyond advertising.’ Technology Advice The Importance of Storytelling in Growing Your Business
Give them a reason to care
Employees need a reason to be motivated. Customers look for a reason to engage with our business. Investors want a reason to choose your company over another. Storytelling provides the reasons to care.
Your business storytelling needs to be consistent across every channel — social media, website, content, design, PR, product, services and employees. It needs to be part of pitching, marketing, product development, hiring and retaining the best talent and creating an outstanding culture.
There’s a quote I came across several years ago by bestselling author and vice-presidential speechwriter Daniel Pink that sums it up well:
“Once upon a time, business could ignore story. Doing that today though, could spell the end.” (Daniel Pink, Forbes Magazine)