Does storytelling actually work for businesses? Can storytelling really help your business grow?
I used to think of business and storytelling as two separate worlds or entities. In my former way of thinking, storytelling was how you communicated with people and built interpersonal relationships, and business boiled down to being polished and convincing through formal advertising and marketing.
Through research and practice, I’ve seen firsthand how storytelling is the best and most effective tool to build your business.
Humans have been telling stories for ages — passing information and tales down from generation to generation through the creative means of stories. Although the storytelling platforms evolved over time (i.e. cave drawings vs. oral communication vs. printing press), we’re all designed to receive information through stories.
Organizing information and facts about your business into a story structure is effective because it aligns with how we were all designed to receive information. It humanizes your brand and initiates a connection with a consumer.
We all know or have learned that consumers buy from those they trust. The marketing world often feels like a shot in the dark trying to determine what content to produce that will stand out amongst the rest and help people to trust us.
We incorrectly deduce the solution is to fight our competition by being more— more creative, funny, catchy, disruptive…the list goes on. We reason that if we become more _____, then maybe, somehow, people will begin to trust us. With this mentality, we begin creating countless ads, hoping the right people will find us and come to trust us.
But the reality is people don’t know you, yet.
Think about your friendships for a moment. Isn’t it true that the people who know the most about you and your story, and vice versa, are the ones you trust the most? It’s the same in business. If you’re a business owner and you’re looking for how you can build trust with people, then storytelling is the answer for you.
Here’s the cycle: You want to grow your business. You need to get more customers and so you need to build more trust with consumers. To build more trust, you need to share more stories.
Decades ago, people would buy from the first company that showed up on Google after a search, or even longer ago, the first business listed in the yellow pages. Take AAA for example. They named themselves “AAA” so they would show up in front of all of the other auto insurance companies, like ABC Auto Insurance and ABC Consulting just because it was so important to be listed first.
Today, with access to the internet and an abundance of information, position still matters but so do values. Consumers care about which businesses align with their values. In my own experience, when I want to buy a product or invest in something I’m going to do my homework and make sure the business aligns with my values. I want to make sure that if I’m spending my hard-earned money, it’s going towards a business I believe in and that is making an impact in the world. Data shows I’m not alone.
Close to 90% of people are buying based on values today. That means consumer behavior has shifted to caring more about your business’ values, knowing that they can trust you and that you’re doing your part to make the world a better place. As a business owner, the best way to communicate that information to a consumer is through stories.
Challenge: My challenge to you is to go live on Facebook or Instagram, or your platform of choice and share your story. Add the caption “My Story.” What you’re going to see are comments like, Wow, I never knew why you started this business, or, It’s so great to know your story to see the depth behind your business. You might not be as polished as you’d prefer. You might be a little nervous, but people are going to respect you. They’ll be excited to hear the story behind your business.