How does storytelling relate to your business?

business | copywriting

There’s a saying that goes “everyone has a story to tell”. That is truer than you could even imagine possible. Did you know that it is in our genetic makeup to tell stories? Every day, when we speak to our friends or family, we are telling stories. If we send a postcard, we’re telling a story. If we write a letter it is full of stories. Even writing a resume is a form of storytelling. Did you know that? So it stands to reason that storytelling is a huge part of your business. Let’s talk about how…

What is storytelling?

I actually can’t believe this is a topic I am blogging about and here’s why. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been studying the ins and outs of storytelling for my degree. And I recently finished writing a lengthy essay all about storytelling. It seems strange to now think about writing this subject in the context of what I know – namely business and copywriting. 

Storytelling. The name itself kind of gives it away, doesn’t it? It’s the act of telling a story. But that’s not the whole story. Because, contrary to popular belief, the idea of a story doesn’t only relate to fiction or fairytales. Stories encompass so much more than that. The stories we tell when we’re conversing with friends over lunch, or even remembering shared stories with them. The stories we tell our other halves when we get home from work and they say, ‘How was your day?’. The stories we share online when we post a photograph to our Facebook page about a place we’re visiting or something we’ve achieved. And those are just OUR stories.

Look around you. Daily, you’re subjected to a multitude of stories from a variety of different sources. The adverts you see on TV or hear on the radio. The billboards you pass on your drive to the store. The blog posts you read. The websites you look at. Stories, stories, stories. Every one of them.

There’s another word for it, which might help you to separate it from this idea of “Once upon a time…”. The word is ‘narrative’. And they are running constantly all around us, to us and even from us.

So how does that relate to my business?

Well, let’s get right back to basics. That very first thing people want to know when they meet you. ‘Hey, what’s your name? And what do you do?’. As you launch into your well-rehearsed introduction, you’re delivering a narrative. You’re telling people about who you are and what it is you do.

Now let’s look at your branding. Branding is a huge part of your business narrative. Your logo tells a story about your business. You’ve selected it for that very reason. Your branding colours and fonts all tie-in to this narrative. They tell part of your story, they relate to the narrative you want your business to convey to people. Your values, your beliefs, even the way you speak, all link to the story of you and your business. They’re all intertwined.

Of course, the words you use in your business play a huge part too. There’s no doubt about that. The copy on your website tells the story of who you are and what your business is and does. You might even use stories to explain why it is you do what you do. Or how you do it. 

Take, for example, the most common story a business might share – the founding story. How your business came into being. What events took place and aligned to find you setting your business up and calling yourself a writer, or a photographer, or a florist, or a coach or whatever it is you do? We’ve all got one of those stories and many of us share it on a page on our website.

The truth is, though, stories create engagement. If a person can read a story about what it is you do rather than a dry and static list of skills, which one do you think they’re going to engage with more? Who do you think they’d be more likely to want to work with or buy from?

So, how can I use storytelling in my business?

You guys, the chances are you’re already doing it. If you send emails or newsletters to a mailing list, if you write blog posts, have a website with some copy on it, share social media posts or even add stories to your Instagram, you are DOING IT.

But, let’s get specific here. Here are a few places you can use storytelling and how you can do that.

Blog Posts

Of course I was going to swing back to blogging at some point. I’m a copywriter, what did you think I was going to do! 😉 

But I’ll say this again, so you’re certain about where I’m coming from. Blogging should be an integral part of your business marketing plan. You know it makes sense! But, if you’re still not sure, then you should read this post about why blogging will help your business

So, how can you bring storytelling into your blog posts? Here are a few ideas: 

1 Use storytelling to give examples 

Storytelling works wonderfully as a way of explaining something to people. Especially if what you’re trying to explain isn’t particularly interesting or engaging on its own. Use a story to illustrate your point, so that people can visualise what it is you’re explaining to them. I’d use a story to explain this point but this, quite literally, speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Now figure that one out, using a story to explain how to use a story in a blog post?! Hold on a second while I scratch my head and ponder that little mystery…

2 Use everyday conversations from your daily life

Sometimes the most ordinary conversation will relay well in a blog post because it will make sense to the person reading it. For example, I was talking to a friend the other day about how she needs to blog more because she always has so many interesting stories to tell. She complained that she never knew what to write about. So, I told her to start recording her conversations and using them as the basis for her blog posts! She gave it a go and it’s working! 

See what I did there? I grabbed a quick conversation I had with a friend to illustrate my point. And you can do the same thing!

3 Make sure the story fits

It’s all well and good telling stories in your blog post. But, if they don’t relate to the subject of your blog in the first place, then it is going to seem like storytelling for the sake of it. 

The most interesting and powerful blog posts are the ones where the story might not seem related, at first, but then it all comes together near the end. Those story-blogs are the best thing to read and I’ll even go back and read them again. You know why? Because they’re relatable. They’re interesting. And they make a fucking point.

4 Don’t forget images

Just because you’ve written a killer story and your words are super engaging and the blog post is a real WOW piece, don’t neglect to add a couple of images. For one, it breaks the text up and, well, makes everything look prettier. For two, images are also stories in their own right and they can work well to back up the words on your page if you choose an image or two wisely. 

Product Pages

If you’re selling products as part of your business, why not engage buyers more by using stories to persuade them to part with their cash? There’s a whole philosophy behind using stories. Not only to make your products more interesting but also to help buyers visualise what it would be like for them to have that product. It creates a desire and a need for something that they might not have even desired or needed before. Ok, so maybe it’s witchcraft. But this is the power of storytelling, you guys! 

Don’t believe me? Check out this awesome TED Talk entitled ‘The Magical Science of Storytelling’.

The beauty of using storytelling when you’re selling a product is that it allows you to show why it’s great, rather than it be you telling people that it’s great. Showing and demonstrating why people need to buy your thing has far greater power than you saying ‘Buy this now!’. If someone tells me to do something, my first knee-jerk reaction is to think ‘Err, nope!’. Ok, I know that comes from my loathing of authority, folks. But I’m betting I’m not the only one!

So, as a thought, why not share users testimonials (their own stories about what the product has done for them)? Or write a story about how the product can help with a particular problem. This will have way more appeal than stating what a product does or how it works. 

Boosting SEO

Would you ever think that telling stories would improve your SEO? Well, you guys, it definitely can!

Think about it. If you’re writing posts and copy that’s more engaging, people are going to interact better with it. They may comment, they will share with other people and, in turn, this will generate more traffic to your website. The more Google sees people interacting with your site, the higher up the rankings you’ll go! If people are enjoying reading your content, they’re going to stick around for longer and explore more of your website and pages. In so doing, they’ll reduce your bounce rate. Another thing that Google likes, you guys!

So it’s a win-win situation all around.  The point being, storytelling is a hugely integral part of your business. 

As I mentioned earlier, you’re already using storytelling. But being aware of it means you can figure out ways of better utilising and harnessing it’s “magical scientific” properties. So, don’t be afraid of pulling out a story now and then as you write copy for your business. Just think about all the good stuff it’s going to do for you!