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The Power of Storytelling to Better Your Business

Now, more than ever, people want to know who is behind the businesses they interact with


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Everything is a story.

How a business begins; why; who is behind it; when the founders conceptualized the product or service; what they saw as the pressing need in the marketplace; where does it live; what is its relevance?

THE POWER OF STORY

As human beings, we’re driven by story. The who, what, when, where, why and how is endlessly rich and fascinating. Some of that is basic curiosity, but so much is genuine interest in how things get done; what makes people tick; what makes ideas take; how and why we fail and pull ourselves back up to try again.

How dreaming, and envisioning and persistence look in the world. It’s one of our most basic human needs to understand these things. In addition to wanting to do business with those we best relate to, as colleagues and community members, we also want to see models of what matters, we want to be inspired, and we want to learn how to do those things ourselves.

HOW STORY BUILDS YOUR BUSINESS

Now, more than ever, and especially with this generation, people want to know who is behind the business; what makes it go and grow; what its values are; how they are helping contribute to the conversation in a relevant way, whether through a product or service, for-profit or non-profit. Those who see something of themselves in that — shared values, particularly — want to do business with that. They want to support and follow and engage with it. They want to tell others about it. It’s inherently compelling in that way.

TELLING YOUR STORY

Your website is the single most important place to begin storytelling. It is the place most everyone starts when they want to learn more about you. Making the words and images there vibrant and direct – while interesting – is key. Research shows the single most visited page on a website is the About page, and this underscores how vital the storytelling element is. When people seek this, they’re hunting for the story, or at least enough of it that will make them want to learn more. If you do that right, it will lead to other areas of your website, where you can tell them more about the  mission, products, services, etc. 


WHAT NOT TO DO: CONTENT CREATION "BEST PRACTICES" 


At any time in the storytelling process, the focus should always be on the reader, and in the instance of a website, the visitor. They’ve deliberately come to your site to learn more – Make it worth their while. Tell them meaningful things. Don’t speak in industry jargon, or any jargon for that matter. Help answer the questions:

“What’s in this for me?”

“Why should I care?”

Those may sound harsh, but at their core, they’re not. They are deeply human, and realistic. And if you think about how you engage with others’ stories in a business context, you’ll find these are the questions you’re feeling as well.

KEEPING THE STORY ALIVE

There is your origin story — how you came to be in business; how you came to be in your current business — and there is your ongoing story: How you and your work remain vibrant, influential and relevant. These stories can be told in a myriad of ways — in regular newsletters sent to clients and vendors, blog posts and in digital and print media. As important as sharing your story is, what’s equally so, and without this there would not be an interesting story to tell, is committing to doing good work. And then, through story, explaining how the work you do contributes to the betterment of the community.


Christine Vazquez is a partner at Cake Agency.

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