The Business Guide to Art of Storytelling
Storytelling in business has been around since the beginning of time. Some may think it's an outdated skill.
But as we move forward in the digital era, it becomes even more important to be able to communicate and influence through your words.
Many believe storytelling is the key to connecting with readers, getting them excited about your product or service, and creating memorable moments that will resonate throughout the rest of your company's history.
We have read a number of books with a story revolving around the businesses.
A lot of business books are simply a string of statistics, a dry recitation of the numbers, and a collection of boring facts. If you’re lucky, there might be an interesting story woven in there somewhere.
However, we know that humans enjoy stories and can tell us a great deal about business. That’s what we are going to talk about in this guide.
Why Storytelling Deserves Your Attention?
Storytelling is a fundamental way in which we communicate with each other, and business is no exception. If you can understand what you are saying, why you are saying it and how it is being received, you can learn a lot about yourself and others.
Stories have the power to change our lives and profoundly impact our relationships. The stories we tell shape our lives, guide us, teach us and influence us.
A good storyteller knows how to tell a story, make it move, and keep the audience engaged. They understand that stories are more than just words; they are symbols that convey meaning and help people connect.
For this reason, storytelling has been here for ages and is one of the most convenient ways to communicate with the masses.
History of Storytelling
Storytelling is as old as humanity. This term storytelling has been around as long as the written word.
It has been an important part of the evolution of human culture. The power of storytelling can be seen in how our ancestors, or our children, can look at the world differently after hearing a good story.
The first written storytelling emerged in 200 B.C., and Shakespeare's likes used it to send persuasive messages to the masses.
A storyteller, in most cases, will be someone who attempts to send messages through stories.
Historically speaking, there haven't always been such 'storytellers' or people who could tell stories.
But with the help of language, print and advances in technology, people have learned to master this art/science, which has allowed thousands of ideas, experiences or facts to be spread over many generations via talking storytellers.
Power of Storytelling in Business
Storytelling is one of the most lucrative skills that businesses utilize. Storytelling in business can either happen on a large or small scale. Some people would prefer small-scale storytelling as it can be done on a more intimate level and does not need more than one or two people.
Businesses can communicate their brand values and vision through storytelling, also known as strategic communication, which aims to build rapport between business entities for mutual benefit.
Here are other reasons as to why is storytelling important for business:
- Catches attention and increases brand awareness
Brands that use storytelling tend to see increased awareness of themselves, improved positive sentiment towards them, and increased purchase intentions.
This intention makes companies/firms utilize their branding strategy well to ensure that everyone can embrace it at large, whether through advertisements or social media marketing.
The way in which consumers perceive brands will greatly affect their response levels when it comes to making purchases. Hence, with this play of emotional responses and great storytelling skills, organizations must strive hard to reflect the brand image they want.
- Reminds people of you and inspires brand loyalty
Brands who take time to recognize their niche market through storytelling tend to generate loyalty for them amongst current customers. This is because these stories bind people with the brand, be it emotionally or intellectually.
Also, it is a great way for the brand to preserve its culture. Storytelling traditions in business have been long kept and are still going. In fact, storytelling has rightly become a field of its own depending on the different industries.
Storytelling has spread across various business domains and departments:
Storytelling and Recruitment: The recruitment team of organizations uses oral storytelling as the modern-day tool to attract quality employees. Employees often try to get into organizations that are known for building their own culture by telling stories.
Public Relations: The PR team of organizations is also using storytelling as a tool to improve the image of their brands. These stories highlight organizational achievements, milestones and events.
Marketing: The marketing teams are using storytelling to communicate the benefits of their products. After all, emotion is an effective way to build brand values and relationships between consumers and brands. Companies also use stories to share brand or product values to leverage the most out of their advertising.
Sales Team: The sales teams of organizations adopt storytelling as a tool to motivate and inspire their customers.
Stories play an important role in engaging consumers by conversing with them on values, feelings, and emotions, which help sales teams collect buyer information and close up the deals.
Furthermore, compelling stories can improve customer loyalty and increase profitability. For this reason, finding new ways to communicate with customers is a must in today’s competitive market.
The Method to the Madness: How to Master the Art of Storytelling?
“A good story makes you feel something and is universal. They want to grasp your values and your commitment to excellence; be inspired and intrigued. Storytelling is the most powerful way to convey these ideas.” ~Mark Truby, Vice President of Communications, Ford Motor Company
Storytelling is indeed an art, and the best storytellers have practiced the art form over the years. You don’t need to be anything remotely like that to be fairly successful with your stories.
If you observe well, you will see that there are patterns in the stories that are told. The best storytellers are the ones who can observe these patterns and then use them in their storytelling.
What's challenging is that the process of storytelling must be authentic and the storyteller must come up with ideas that seem fascinating. Hence, brands must adopt useful tactics to express their authenticity and spread brand values through their stories.
The storytelling process may take various forms depending on the objective and creatives used. It may vary from a short story to a documentary, docu-drama or other format depending on how much time it takes for users to understand what is being communicated as well as where they are going with them.
However, the crux of storytelling include:
Understand the Audience and Their Objective
Your audience is paramount for your business. To gain customers’ interest and loyalty, you need to understand them well.
Various assumptions can be made about your audience though it is hard to ascertain the exact mindsets of an individual one-on-one.
Thus, businesses must understand their audience before anything else. Even if the story is not intended for businesses, understanding the audience type and their objective is what most writers begin with. The storytelling process for businesses isn't any different.
It starts with understanding the audience and their objectives. In fact, the emotions, tonality and style depend on the audience and what they want to read.
Define the Right Brand Voice for the Message
Compiling a story for the audience may involve various styles and tones depending on your brand's personality. A business can take two different approaches to storytelling: telling their stories in an interesting way and delivering it authentically, just like the brand values.
Now, it depends on what your brand is trying to portray. Major brands like Airbnb, Gillette and Nike used visual storytelling or a short commercial to portray their brand voice.
Nike has been using storytelling for a longer time than any other brand, and that's why they are a great inspiration for visual stories. In 1999, they released a “commercial” that commemorated Michael Jordan's career. The commercial has nowhere mentioned Nike until the last minute of the video, where the brand slogan is above Jordan's childhood picture.
Well, that's one way of delivering the brand voice to your consumers.
Construct the Narrative Using the Skills and Storytelling Techniques
Writing and crafting a narrative practically takes two approaches: script-driven narratives or creative stories.
Script-driven narratives are the ones where the content flows from a prewritten story plan. Since it's hard to tell stories without following some kind of order, script-driven stories provide that distinction.
Creative narratives are the ones in which every part is created from scratch. In other words, these types of stories can be changed to fit any market or customer expectation when both parties have a certain chemistry that will benefit the business.
Essential Skills that go into Business Storytelling
The story writers must possess nuance skills to create compelling stories that reflect their brand. Here are some of the most significant skills in business storytelling:
- Observing the audience
To write a story that resonates with your consumers, you must know who they are and what drives them. After all, these people will be the core audience of your brand's storytelling strategy.
Companies like Nike and Unilever understand that they wouldn't effectively market to their consumers if they were unaware of their audience. Therefore, both companies put on some kind of storytelling techniques in order to reach their audience effectively.
- Play with tone and voice for brevity, humor, suspense
The best skill that a story writer could possess is playing with a tone and voice that aligns with the target audience. Experiment with tone and style non-linearly until you feel your brand's voice is consistently recognizable throughout all its presentations.
A story must be a mix of emotions and contain hooks at various parts. In other words, a story writer must keep the audience guessing with concise tone and voice, a bit of humor, suspense and everything else.
According to George Orwell, the end of every story must lead to some sort of twist that keeps the audience hanging on. The writer must always be wary of reading too much into their stories; otherwise, they would lose consumers by aiming at them with the wrong message.
- Evoking an emotional response
The story writer must carefully approach his audience because he wants them to keep following him (story sponsor) throughout their waking hours, not just while under anesthetic.
The storyline can become stale after a long period. Thus, it's important for writers who are good at changing pace and modifying the voice to maintain audiences' interest by enhancing emotions.
An effective story will make it easy for the audience to empathize with the characters in the plot.
- Using storytelling arcs
A storytelling arc or a narrative arc forms a major part of an exposition, as the writer aims to make his audience feel wow-ed by what he has been saying. Basically, a storytelling arc defines the structure and shape of a story.
A compelling story usually starts with a calm and slow pace, the middle part emerges with some tensions and character conflict, and it ends with a narrative at its peak and where conflict gets resolved. Such an arc is commonly known as the "rags to riches."
It doesn't mean that every script has the same arc, but one-fifth of the script had the "rags to riches" storyline.
Even a story like the Tales of Cinderella was found to have followed a narrative arc like this as analyzed by AI. Storytelling arcs are important for character development that will ultimately lead readers to want more.
- Experiment with scene, chronology, tension, punchline, and dialogue
A script with a good story has to be dynamic and consequent. A dull and typical storyline tends to bore the audience. Free from monotony, it relieves boredom by creating suspense and draws readers' attention to make them stick with it until the end.
You would want to experiment with the scenes, chronology and structure, brand punchlines and dialogues. Use a more comprehensive dialogue dialect and flex your dialogue muscles to see if you can develop something more engaging.
Compose new scripts based on some other characters, new plots and settings. This will eventually break away from stereotypical storylines that often follow pre-set plans in contemporary films today. The more versions you are able to come up with, the better it will be for your storytelling talent.
Businesses experiment with various storytelling techniques that could be fruitful at some point. Here are some storytelling strategies for businesses:
Monomyth: A monomyth is a story structure that describes a hero's journey, struggles, and victories. This type of storyline is good for taking your audience into a journey and showing them the benefit of taking risks.
Nested loops: Nested loops is a storytelling technique where you place your most important story in the middle of the message and surround it with three or more other stories that are smaller but still relevant to your main point.
Converging ideas: Converging ideas is a speech structure that shows the audience how different strands of thinking came together to form one product or idea.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are various types of storytelling techniques that brands adopt and use together to create powerful stories.
Bonus: Tell Personal Stories with Authenticity
As pointed out by Gary Vee in this video, don't just carve out the stories, learn to document them. When you share your personal experiences with proof and authenticity, the customers will remember your brand better because you shared something personal with them.
Therefore, it is not merely about pitching the story, but more about conveying an authentic narrative (personal stories) that can be recalled at will by customers who like to hear stories of others, especially those suffering hardship and pain through failure.
This can be in case studies, ebooks, or even a ted talk that focuses on selling and building relationships.
Examples of Storytelling
Storytelling styles may vary on different platforms. A blog might use bullet points or highlight phrases to structure the content differently from Twitter, which must be presented visually.
The hard part is businesses need to leverage the storytelling across various platforms to ensure business visibility and gain engagement.
Be it social media, podcasts, or websites; storytelling may turn out to be lucrative for brands in any industry. Manual churning of these stories may take up a lot of your time and efforts, and the worst-case scenario is getting surrounded by writer's block.
AI copywriting tools have become the business's best pal in nurturing emotional stories, addressing the customer's pain points, and spreading the brand voice.
Below, we have shared some amazing use cases of storytelling that were generated using the Scalenut AI Copywriter tool:
Storytelling on Social Media
Social media storytelling enables you to expose your brand to your potential audience. For example, a story may be a status on Facebook or a company's success journey on LinkedIn.
Similarly, a synopsis of stories can be shared on Twitter or Instagram to direct the audience to the business website.
For example, storytelling in luxury fashion or skincare plays a huge role. Using a customer success story could increase brand credibility and trust.
Below is an example of the Dove Derma Series, where Dove started a campaign for various skin stories. A short, intriguing story for social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram generated by AI looks enticing and starts with the pain point and struggle.
Storytelling for Website
You might have read various stories on Medium.com about a product or the company. Furthermore, brands share their success stories on their 'About Us' Page.
Be it the product storytelling or the company's journey, storytelling has always been lucrative for the businesses and inspirations for its audiences.
Even a timeline of milestones can be intriguing for the reader. An example is Freshworks, which has used their struggle in the form of a timeline and a short story.
In 2021, there will be around 850,000 active podcasts, with over 30 million total episodes. This is one of the most suitable ways to reach your audience.
When you share your story through audio podcasts, it is more likely that your audience will listen to you. Brands are leveraging the power of podcasts to boost brand credibility.
There are scads of entrepreneurs who are now using podcasts as a medium to spread their knowledge and reach their audience.
Some examples are:
- John Lee Dumas: Entrepreneurs on Fire
- Pat Flynn: Smart Passive Income
- Chris Ducker's Youpreneur
- Ambitious Entrepreneur Show by Annemarie Cross
Creating a story on your own is a good idea, but it may get overwhelming when you have a story to publish every day or twice a day. Hence, an AI story writer can be of great help here.
Besides the audio podcasts, videos are one of the most-watched content in 2021. Life coaches and motivational speakers are leveraging video content to build an ardent fan base of their own.
Writing a script or video description for your audience more than the video content is important. These scripts must be enticing enough so that the viewers can click on the video.
Scalenut's video description template can generate various outputs within minutes. Here is an example.
If you want to create a script for your storyline, you can leverage the power of Scalenut AI copywriter. Let's take the example of Robert Downey Jr.'s journey.
Learning Resources (Books, Case Studies & Podcasts)
To learn the art of storytelling in business, scriptwriters need some inspiration and learning resources. These resources can be a great starter for newbies willing to learn storytelling nuances.
If you are not fond of reading, you can get inspired by industry thought leaders and storytellers by watching their videos or attending their seminars.
Books for Business Storytelling
Here are some of the best books on business storytelling:
- The Hero with Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction work by Joseph Campbell, an American Author and Mythology Professor.
The hero's journey is outlined in the book, and it can be shown to have a common pattern in a variety of myths and stories from around the world. Campbell demonstrates that most stories have the same basic structure, and the difference lies in how they are delivered.
This book is a great illustration of how storytelling evolves from a single idea and where it differs.
He combines examples from various tales in The Hero with a Thousand Faces to show the usual stages that a hero goes through on his journey through the story.
The book analyzes myths from several civilizations with the same basic pattern, such as Greek mythology like Ulysses' narrative, Chinese Buddha stories, and many Christian stories.
- Long Story Short by Margot Leitman
Margot Leitman deconstructs storytelling into its constituent parts.
In this approachable storytelling guide, comedian and Moth 5-time champion storyteller Margot Leitman provides a clear and engaging roadmap to telling your personal stories.
Leitman walks you through the full storytelling process, from content and structure to emotional impact and delivery, sharing personal tales, relatable examples, and practical exercises along the way.
- The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
The Anatomy of Story draws on a wide range of philosophy and mythology to offer new approaches and anecdotes, as well as Truby's unique approach to creating a multidimensional tale.
Truby's approach to tale structure is both analytical and practical, focusing on the hero's moral and emotional development.
As a result, in order to write an effective novel, writers will go deep within themselves and analyze their own ideas, ideals, and worldviews.
Writers will be left with a very particular set of tools to work with — concrete, practical approaches for making the audience care about their characters.
Case studies are the real-life proof of how to map success in any vertical. In learning the art of storytelling, the best resources are the brands that have inspired people and have used various techniques to gather the audience.
- Coca Cola
100-year-old brand Coca-Cola uses storytelling diligently to promote their new campaigns and hear the voice of the masses.
This way, they can address any cause and even come out with more stories every time.
As the world's most popular search engine, Google employs stories in a variety of ways.
To begin with, it connects people with information, allowing them to study and create their own tales. Google also demonstrates how its products benefit customers and enrich the human experience through stories.
Who knows storytelling better than Disney? They put storytelling before anything.
Storytelling is at the core of their business, and they can’t sell without a storyline.
Mickey Mouse is a trademark of Disney. However, Disney still needed a story to sell any Mickey Mouse product and merchandise.
Thought Leaders Learnings
Here are the best podcasts and industry leaders to follow on social media to learn storytelling for business.
- Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a prolific storyteller who shares various angles to storytelling and teaches how to do it.
The storywriter for movies and series like The Sandman, The Graveyard and The Big Bang Theory shares his thoughts on crafting compelling stories and evoking the audience’s interest.
- David Wiesner
David Wiesner is a children's book illustrator who uses pictures rather than words to tell stories. Three of his works received the prestigious Caldecott Medal.
He has written various books, shared podcasts and is popularly known as the wordless author because of his storytelling through the visuals mostly.
Storytelling is an important aspect of your marketing strategy. If you want to be successful, you must tell a story that resonates with your audience.
The more people know about your company and the more they like what you do, the more likely they will take action. But if you can't find the right story to tell, it's time to get creative.
If you're able to create a story around why your company exists and what it stands for, you have a better chance of connecting with them. The next time you find yourself at a networking event or speaking with someone new, try asking them some questions about the stories they've heard about your industry and how those stories shape their perception of your company.
By learning more about their perspective on what makes you unique in the industry, you can create opportunities for further conversation that can ultimately lead to greater engagement and growth for both of you.
Storywriting is a hard nut to crack, and you will feel challenged at times, but an AI story writer like Scalenut can help you create a compelling storyline. Surely, an AI writer cannot write a detailed story for you, but it helps create hooks and end the writer's block.