When done right, storytelling can captivate your audience and demonstrate the need for your offerings. A good story can evoke emotions, attracting customers and making them curious about your product or service. However, when a story gets it wrong, consumers can lose interest in your product—and potentially your brand.
As leaders in their respective fields, members of the Forbes Business Council have learned the importance of storytelling to business and why it’s critical to hone those skills. Below, they offered some actionable advice for business owners looking to create and tell effective stories.
1. Practice your story and get input from your team
Provide real-life examples of the new product or service to show where you are solving a problem or a need. The best way to improve anything is to do it repeatedly, to the point where it doesn’t sound repetitive. I would recommend roleplaying blitz with your team and current customers to improve it, because people will tell you what you are missing in your story as you go. – Brandy Whitmire, Brandy Whitmire Mortgage Team
2. Be an active listener
Engage with clients and other professionals within the industry to better understand their needs, challenges, priorities and tone. Hear not only what they say, but also how they say it. Ask questions to dig deeper. The more you understand and the better you are able to relate, the more adept you will be at storytelling. – Kermit S Randa
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3. Grow in your story and try it on those who are not familiar
Practice, practice, practice making it short, tight and straight. Then, test it in front of people who aren’t familiar with what you’re trying to sell. As a point of understanding, a stand-up comic needs an average of a month for every five minutes of good material. – Howard Rosen, LifeWIRE Corp
4. Think back to your ‘Why’ and use it to shape your story
The art of storytelling is similar to other genres in many ways. In an article by Peter Guber, he says, “A great storyteller never tells a story the same way twice.” Remember why you started working on your idea in the first place. With your business, you tried to fill a void. What was that? Focus on this and retell your story in a compelling and relatable way. – Udi Dorner, SetSchedule
5. Focus on the customer’s story instead of your business’s
Tell the story of your client’s pain, investigation, remedy, and resolution journey. Customers are looking for a solution to a problem; they’re not looking for a feel-good business story. Reflect the customer’s exciting experience and you will demonstrate your understanding of their needs while increasing their brand and product affinity. — Samuel Johnston, nth venture
6. Demonstrate your personal connection to the product
Having a personal connection to your product is key. For example, I just launched a new digital platform for professionals in my industry, which happens to be real estate. The fact that I can share my story and how it led to the development of this platform is critical. It has helped convey my investment in the product and sends a clear message that it is built by and for insiders. – Kevin Markarian, Roopler
7. Learn And Address Obstacles faced by customers
No problem equals no opportunity. Storytelling should not focus on profits, but on solving customer problems. Focus heavily on finding out what your customer’s pain points are and listen to the keywords they use. With this information, tell a story that helps them overcome their obstacles or challenges. This will result in more deals won, repeat business and happy customers. – Ammar Dayani, Dispersion of the Prince
8. Use your company’s value to create a story
Zero in on the value that can be derived from your product or service. Then, work backwards to come up with a story. Identify your target audience. The pain points you are treating should become your starting point. Make the story aspirational. Also, try out a few stories and get feedback on which ones draw the best responses. – Saravana Kumar, Kovai.co
9. Be Personal and Relatable
Customers like to interact and have a real human face behind a product rather than just a corporate name. In your product introduction, you can include details about how you came up with the idea for the product, the process your team put into developing it, and how it helped you improve your performance (if it’s something related to your product line). business). – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures
10. Listen to your customers when shaping your story
The era of companies simply telling stories about their products and/or services is over. The only meaningful and progressive communication comes from customers. Consumers should dictate what stories are told and how they are shared. Storytelling is as much, if not more, about hearing as it is about listening. Leverage social listening to improve your corporate storytelling skills. – Avy Punwasee, Revenue Management Labs
11. Demonstrate your company’s value
Storytelling can be hard! Start by researching stories that resonate with your target audience. The best stories address the concerns your audience has. Identify their concerns and then talk clearly about how you can solve them. Too often, storytelling turns into a waste of features and customers get lost in the listing instead of the actual value we provide. Always talk about the problem. – Ty Allen, SocialClimb
12. Use logic and emotion in your story
Roman oratory is useful in the story. It taps into logic and emotion to inspire action. Cicero was quoted as saying, “Nothing, then, is more rare among mankind than a perfect orator.” There are basic building blocks to the stories for which the brand sets the tone. This allows the truth in marketing to connect with the story and hold the firm accountable for what they do. – Paul L. Gunn, KUOG Corporation
13. Listen to your customers
Learn to be a good listener before you become a storyteller. Then, be sure to follow the basics of good communication by practicing listening and responding to customers. It will help you gain customer trust and loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. A happy customer is much more likely to want to hear your new story. – Michael Podolsky, PissedConsumer.com
14. Be clear about the benefits your company offers
Storytelling is a great way to create your own narrative about your brand’s reputation. Paint a clear and detailed picture of the benefits of your services by sharing an actual case study. People are interested in how you solved customer challenges, so it helps establish common ground with your audience. As a professor once told me, you have to lead your audience by the hand. – Francisco Ramirez, ACE Group (TAG)
15. Tell stories that demonstrate triumph
Tell clear stories about the challenge without your solution and then the result with it. Just clearly tell them the key features and associated benefits, but lead with the value they received. Make sure that what you “believe” in is underlined and noble and that others aspire to match it. Intentionally appeal to the right emotions of pride, fear, greed, etc. – Michel Koopman, 2Swell, Corp.