8 stories every business should tell
We’ve already established that stories are powerful tools in growing your business.
In my last article, we learned what makes a great story and how you can create and tell it in a way that engages your audience.
In today’s episode, we will take the idea of leveraging storytelling for business growth yet a step further. Here are 8 stories your business should tell in order to establish credibility, connection, and trust with your listeners.
The 8 types of stories your business should be telling
How to use each type effectively
And what mistakes you should avoid with storytelling inside your business
THE 'WHY' STORY
Your 'why story' is basically your origin story. The story that tells your backstory.
These are the types of stories where you reflect on what you’ve done before you started your business:
- What made you start your business?
- What inspiration lightning struck you to set you on your journey?
- What was your first action to solve the problem?
- What challenges did you encounter?
- What emotional victory did you have with your first customer?
How to use it: The why stories are best kept on your website. Some people call this the “About Us” section, others call it “Our Story”, or some people place the Why Story under their “Start here” page.
You’ve got some wiggle room as to where you’d rather place this story. Summarized versions of this type of story could also work in presentations.
I use this type of story in some of my keynotes or webinar presentations. If you have images or videos from your early days that’s the perfect place to plug them into your why story and this way brings to life your journey. People value more brands that have a meaningful why story.
THE FAILURE STORY
If there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to storytelling: people want to hear “real stories by real people.”
Nobody can relate to picture-perfect. That means acknowledging the mere fact that life is never perfect and anyone often faces some weakness or vulnerability will help you connect with your audience better.
Customers interpret this kind of story as evidence of the brand’s authenticity and humanity.
This kind of transparency such as confessing to a poorly received talk or a lost pitch, coupled with a meaningful moral, helps build that sought-after customer trust. So, you definitely want to incorporate this type of storytelling into your business.
How to use it: Failure stories because of their radical perspective can help you drive awareness at the top of your funnel or at mid-funnel to educate customers.
Possible uses could include Instagram visual stories, Facebook videos, LinkedIn posts. If you come up with a catchy hashtag you can even include your audience to celebrate their failures and learnings and turn this into a lively User-Generated-Content play.
THE WIN STORY
The reality is that most stories you encounter on social media these days could be considered as “brag stories" from new business wins, high-profile talk, new hiring requests, new partnerships, award wins, and many more.
This is how advertising and marketing were done for eons with the sole purpose of representing the brand in the most positive way.
Unfortunately, if you do these types of stories, it could backfire and come across as braggy. That’s why you want to use these stories sparingly and always set them up as “I’m telling you this story not to brag, but to show you what’s possible when …”
How to use it: With the ingrained dominance of winning stories on social and elsewhere, you need to tread carefully here.
Pick a few winning stories that go beyond your immediate business reward and elevate the story with a higher purpose reward (we will talk about Higher-Purpose Stories in just a minute) that makes a difference in your community.
If you could tie the benefactors from your higher-purpose activity to contribute to the story, your brand trust will further increase.
THE CHEER STORY
We can never recognize enough other people who contribute to our business success. Showing gratitude for others helps paint your business and employees as team players who support and care for one another.
It’s a great signal for your prospects who are still under the consideration stage, for your customers as it validates their decision for working with you, for potential partners, for media coverage, and lastly – for potential employees that may consider joining your team.
How to use it: The act of selfless giving rewards not only the giver but also the recipient, who will do the utmost to broadly share her unexpected kudos.
Since we talk about visual storytelling, the kudos giver could experiment with a variety of visual formats; from a screen grab of a hand-written Thank You note, Instagram images, personal or video Thank You.
At the highest involvement levels, a kudos recipient will go beyond flat-sharing and post a standalone counter Thank You note to the giver which will extend the impact of the original kudos story
THE HIGHER PURPOSE STORY
Higher purpose means being engaged in an activity that carries a larger reward beyond personal or economical gains. This kind of selfless reward makes a difference in your neighborhood, city, country, and the world.
Higher-purpose stories signal to your audience that your brand is associated not only with making money but with making the world better.
How to use it: Sometimes, it could be a story about singling out a specific individual in need and having the brand help in a big way. A few years back these programs used to be called Random Acts of Kindness.
These days, I think they should evolve into Routine Acts of Kindness Higher-purpose stories. They work well at the top and mid-funnel, as they light a positive and unselfish perspective about your brand.
Visually, it works well when you are able to communicate the experience as a series of documentary videos or images. It allows your audience to follow the program progress and celebrate once it arrives at its conclusion.
THE 'HOW-TO' STORY
As their names suggest, these stories teach your audience how to use or overcome challenges using your product or service. The more technical your product is, the more it would lend itself better for a How-To story.
How to use it: The hallmark of How-To stories is by far on YouTube, covering any imaginable topic. Another good place for How-To stories is owned media like on your Website, email list, or blog.
You can also do these types of stories using IG tv or even Clubhouse. Stories could range from video, image slideshow to infographics, as well as by the unique perspective of the storyteller.
THE 'DISMANTLE OBJECTIONS' STORY
After you closely research your ideal client or ideal avatar, you’ll most likely find what are their key objections at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
This is critical as your audience information needs to constantly change from being a prospect to being a customer and then an advocate.
These kinds of stories allow you to preempt the most common objections your audience voices, and offer timely rationale as to what is the proper way to address, and this way proactively manage your brand experience.
How to use it: You should bake these kinds of stories at each stage of your buyer’s journey as they would help deflect any customer objections. This way, they will help move your audience down your sales funnel. Visually, objection stories could be part of real-life video stories customers shared with you, real-time dialogs on visual chatbots, sales pitches, or high-profile talks.
THE 'UNRELATED' STORY (WITH RELATED MORAL)
All the above stories largely come directly from a bucket inside your business; meaning they are directly related to your business. Whereas Unrelated Stories cover unrelated business topics.
They could be a newspaper article you came across, a movie, a book, an unrelated personal story that happened to you or someone you know.
They are effective because they offer a soft entry point to engage your audience with a compelling story before revealing a related business moral.
How to use it: Unrelated Stories could be used in a variety of ways. For example, I sometimes use an episode from my favorite TV shows to underscore a point.
I also often use personal stories that happened to me – from running in nature, playing with my kids, to an encounter I had with someone at my local grocery store.
These ordinary stories are easy to relate to and carry some of the key human attributes I’ve already discussed like vulnerability, failure, and doubts – that work to build trust.
The key is to pick a single aspect from the Unrelated Story and blow it up as part of your business-related moral. This technique works well in StorySelling during sales pitches, as part of ongoing email communication, blogs, Vlogs or podcasts.
The 8 stories you should be sharing in your business as a content marketing strategy, but most importantly, to connect with your audience:
- THE 'WHY' STORY
- THE FAILURE STORY
- THE WIN STORY
- THE CHEER STORY
- THE HIGHER-PURPOSE STORY
- THE HOW-TO STORY
- THE DISMANTLE OBJECTIONS STORY
- THE UNRELATED STORY
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