Whether you’re a large or small business, a cost-effective way to get noticed and stand out from the competition is to share your stories.
If you are doing any of the following activities then you’re effectively telling your story.
- Writing a media release to be in the news
- Writing an expert article or blog for the media, your website or newsletter
- Creating a brochure or website
- Filming a video for social media and your website
- Entering an award
- Speaking at an event.
What is your business story?
Your business story is about telling people what you do. These six questions will help gather the information you need.
- Who are you?
- What do you do/are you doing?
- Where do you do it/are you doing it?
- When do you do it/are you doing it?
- How do you do it/are you doing it?
- Why do you do it/are you doing it?
Then you need to arrange the information to suit the audience and the medium you are using to tell your story.
Five tips for great business story-telling
These tips will help make it easier to tell your story and, most importantly, have people listen to it and act on it.
- Know your purpose and audience.
What are you trying to achieve by sharing your story? Do you want to entertain, inform, persuade, show off your expertise or get people to buy something from you? Maybe it is a combination of these things.
Knowing who your audience is (their age, gender, their location and what they already know) is vital. This information will influence the language and images you use and help you decide the best places to share your story. You should share your story where your audience hangs out or gets their information.
- Make it about them, not you.
Make your story about your audience and you make it interesting to them.
So often I read stories starting “XYZ business is proud to announce…” and I stop reading. I don’t want to read about you or your business per se. I want to read about how you can help me solve a problem I have or be inspired by you or know that you are benefiting others in my community.
Another common mistake is to give a history lesson of your organisation. “XYZ company proudly started operations in 1942…and then we did this and then we did that”. So… how does that help anyone? Start with the most interesting and pertinent information to your audience and as they read or listen the information shared becomes more nice to know. This is how newspaper journalists write a story, because you don’t always read to the end of every story, do you?
Use interesting statistics or facts to illustrate your story in a meaningful way to your audience. An example is a business that has introduced measures to save water. If the business is saving five megalitres of water a year, it is saving enough water to fill two Olympic sized swimming pools. Now the audience is more able to understand that is a lot of water.
- Short and simple or easy to digest?
You don’t always have to keep your story short and simple. The length and simplicity will depend on the medium you are using and your audience. If the content is interesting, the reader or listener will stay with you. (Notice I haven’t used that awful, over-used word – engaging).
Know your key message or points and make them in a clear and concise way. The problem with many business stories is that they are littered with jargon, long sentences and what I call management babble speak.
Randomly loading up your story with buzz words doesn’t prove that you are clever, it suggests to the discerning reader, listener or viewer that you don’t know what you are talking about.
Avoid industry jargon as you’ll confuse or just lose the audience.
Write and speak using the magical principle of one idea, one sentence. A combination of short and long sentences is more interesting and easier to comprehend than paragraph sentence after paragraph sentence.
Use bullet points and headings to break up your story.
- Be accurate.
Stories with spelling mistakes and poor grammar don’t leave the impression that you are professional or expert.
Proof your story or, better still, get someone else to do so. Use spell check and online grammar tools. Make sure you aren’t using American tools so your s doesn’t turn to z when speaking to an Australian audience.
- Have a call to action.
It can be a good idea to reinforce your purpose in sharing your story. This may be implied or spell it out at the end. Also make it as easy as possible for people reading your story to get in touch with you, if that is the objective of telling your story.
Share your story
A lot of businesses make the mistake of creating a piece of content for one purpose. You should make the most of the time and effort you have taken to tell your story by repackaging it to be used in as many ways possible.
If you write an expert article that appears in the media, then put it on your website or blog. Share both on social media. Put a summary of the story (or the fact that you got published) in your printed or e-newsletter with a link back to the story on your website. Use it as a script for a video or an online presentation. Expand it to create a white paper or bring a series of articles together into a book or e-book. Put it on your staff communication platforms so they can tell the story too.
Content is king
Every marketer, communication professional and journalist will tell you that, regardless of the marketing channel – content is king. What that really means is that interesting stories work. Start telling your business story, properly.
Craig Eardley helps to raise the profile of people and organisations and helps them to communicate better. His 25 years’ experience in public relations and communication is one of the reasons he is behind the many stories that you watch, read or hear each year. Craig has a way with words and people to help you to tell your story in the right way for your audience and connect you with others. You can cut through the clutter to manage your brand and achieve your business goals.