The art of sharing stories used to be a social and cultural activity that kept the history and the traditions of a community alive. With times, the stories have evolved and reached out to a new audience through improvisation, plays, books, and even visuals such as paintings, films and comics. Used in a variety of situations and for many purposes – such as educational, entertainment or cultural preservation –, stories play a crucial part in the evolution of humanity.
But gradually, the idea of creating and sharing a story to convey a deeper message has touched a business world. Storytelling is tightly connected to the growth and success of companies. Within the workplace, the apparition of multimedia communication and convincing methods of communication has encouraged businesses to not only embraced but developed the influence of storytelling. While the stories don’t include fairies, a dragon, or a princess to save from an evil witch, serious storytelling still contains moral values that are designed to be engaging and relatable. It’s not a matter of having a nice time while listening to the story of a company. It’s about connecting at a level that goes beyond simple fact rendition. Consequently, it is in the interest of an entrepreneur to not only understand how storytelling can transform their business presence, but also where and how to apply it best to the company processes.
Marketing: Tell your story to reach out to a new audience
The days when all you needed to reach out to your audience was to have your brand mentioned on TV or in the newspapers are long gone. Nowadays, if you want to reach out to a modern and dynamic audience – such as the Millennials – you need to embrace positive emotions. Young adults have different expectations when it comes to conveying your message – they want to bond with your communication. Consequently, it’s fair to say, that a factual and informative approach isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to use a connected storytelling approach across all media. Customers want to know more about your mission and your values as a business – that’s exactly what social media platforms and blogs are for. Additionally, as you create an emotionally loaded message, you can encourage users to buy. Positive emotions such as happiness, love and safety are powerful statements that can affect the mindset of your audience. Ikea, for instance, focuses adverts on family values, from a variety of perspectives to appeal to all audience groups: cross-generational, same gender, single parent families, young couples, divorced adults, etc.
Leading: Convince a crowd
Steve Jobs has always been a storyteller. It’s his talent for stories that convey hopes and a vision of the future that held Apple together during the first few years. Jobs, then, helped to turn the small film company, Pixar, into the multi-billion-dollar success it is. He indeed negotiated movie deals with Disney and finally the purchase of Pixar by Disney. From a business point of view, it might seem like nothing but excellent commercial acumen. But at the heart of a changing market, Jobs knew how to inspire those around him to be their best and achieve their goals. He achieved his tour de force with Pixar and Apple through compelling storytelling. One of his most famous speeches at Apple is the organization of a mock funeral for Mac OS 9 to encourage the company to move to the next OS. It’s hard to know precisely how Jobs developed his skills for storytelling, but one thing is for sure: Being in a position to tell the story makes you a successful leader. As a result, some of the largest corporations such as Microsoft, Nike and Motorola have made storytelling a vital tool of leadership. All the senior executives at Nike have corporate storyteller whose job is to capture the most significant stories. Using storytelling encourages motivation, communication and engagement. A story appeals to the emotional side of the individual, and therefore create a meaningful bond with the company.
Make the story part of the service you sell: Game businesses
In some cases, storytelling is not a mean to encourage better employee engagement or market response; sometimes the story is an active part of what you sell. There is, for instance, a huge business opportunity for escape room enthusiasts to create their own company and proposes puzzles to their clients. Indeed, escape rooms are becoming hugely popular as an entertainment option between friends, but also as a tool to promote team collaboration. However, due to high competition, it can be difficult to find the best possible experience. Indeed, even quality rooms need to be upgraded or changed once in a while to attract new customers. That’s where the ability to create immersive and exciting stories can make a great deal of difference. Ultimately, if you start with a story, you can build an experience that will throw your escape business on top of Google. The narrative is the plot that gives meaning to the puzzles in the room. If the narrative doesn’t engage players or doesn’t relate to the puzzles – such as a Pharaoh-themed room filled with padlocks –, your business fails.
Non-profits: Move people to raise awareness
Telling a story can change the way your audience interacts with a non-profit cause. The NHS digital storytelling is designed to give a face to the health institution. Every week, a new member of staff takes over the account and relates their everyday within the NHS. Thus, launched as a trial, the twitter account attracted 11,000 followers in only 13 weeks. Crisis uses social media to give a voice to homeless people and remove stereotypes associated with homelessness. It’s powerful, human, humbling and deeply moving too. Every reader knows that the story could be theirs too.
Data interpret: Tell the story behind the data
What happens when the story is the only mean of communication? This is the question that many data analysts and interprets have to face. Data is only knowledge when it can be shared and understood. Unfortunately, despite the abundance of analytical tools and data-based strategies, too many businesses struggle with making sense out of their data. That’s where the data interpret becomes an essential part of business success. You need an expert who can tell an inspiring and meaningful story that connects the data together.
Recruiter: Attract your dream candidates
When a candidate applies for a job, they don’t only expect the company to match their salary requirements. They want to join a company with which they feel that their skills can make a difference. Through the story of the employer, the company hopes to appeal to the right applicants and to motivate them. Marriott chose to introduce videos of their existing employees sharing authentic stories as a presentation of their brand. Storytelling introduces a tool that resonates with the right personality, and therefore naturally selects the best candidates for the role.
Teaching: Make knowledge accessible and engaging
Stories stick with people. They go beyond the intellectual comprehension and reach an emotional memory. Children love stories because they are amusing, scary, encouraging and motivating. And teachers love to tell stories because they know that their students are never going to forget the lesson. Using storytelling as a teaching strategy is not a novelty per se – old fables used to be about teaching a valuable life lesson – but it’s only come recently into the classroom. For example, teachers can connect with their class by sharing their own stories and letting children know that, they do, experienced failures at the same age. Stories used as introduction or illustrations keep the attention focused.
Every story has an appeal. In the business world, the story is designed to appeal to the right audience, from customers to applicants. Whether you use stories as a tool to sell, to teach, to attract, or even as an end-service, the art of storytelling is tightly connected to the growth of every business.