How to use story to boost your business

—3 practical tips

As some of you might know, I’m a big fan of stories. In my work as a brand designer I tell (visual) stories every day and I just love to read & tell stories (especially to my 1 year old son).

And apparently I’m not the only one.

We crave good stories and they have been part of our society for thousands of years.

They have the potential to reach millions of people. They can make us smile and they can make us cry… they can even change the way we think, make us take a stand and take action.

​Stories can be very powerful.

A story can make a whole nation turn on another —e.g. Hitler’s story. Or it can create a movement that revolutionises the way a society works —e.g. Rosa Park’s story and the one told by Martin Luther King Jr.

Imagine the impact these stories have had.

In business it’s quite similar. The powerful brands, like Apple, Coca Cola and Google, all tell a compelling story. With their stories they’ve managed to get our attention and make us buy from them.

Imagine the impact these stories have had.

Atelier Pan How to use story to boost your business (3 practical tips)

NOW IMAGINE WHAT STORY CAN DO FOR YOU...

Your (potential) clients are just like you and me. They also crave a good story. When they’re looking for someone to help them with their problem, story is what makes them decide who to buy from.

Story creates a connection, story builds trust and it helps you form a bond with your (potential) client.

I’d like to share three practical tips for telling a compelling story that'll help you boost your business.

1. Research your audience
The most important part of your story is not the story itself, but who you’re telling it to. Your story needs to get the attention of your (potential) clients. If it doesn’t appeal to them, you’re wasting your time.

So, find out who they are. The more you find out about them, the better. You can e.g. interview, survey and/or observe them to find out who they are, what they care about, how they talk, where they hang out and what they’re struggling with.

This information will help you with your story. You’re actually going to use these finding to create the main character of your story.

“Your brand is not the hero of the story, your client is.”

—Donald Miller, Storybrand

This might sound a bit counterintuitive at first, but in order to tell an appealing story your audience needs to identify with the main character —and what could be more compelling than a story about someone who is just like them?

2. Qualify your (potential) clients
Story is also a great tool to find out if a potential client is the right client for you. Building a fruitful relationship is as much about them as it is about you.

We’ve all had some clients that didn’t fit (read: they were a pain…) and what did that do for your business?

You want to attract the right clients —clients you want to work with, clients that value your work, clients you want to build a relationship with.

The funny thing is, when you work with the right clients, it benefits them as much as it benefits you. Communication is easier/faster (and time is money), you’re both more willing to go a bit further to help each other out and the quality of the work is usually higher.

The story that you choose to tell, attracts a certain type of client and since the main character of the story is based on the clients you want to attract, you can influence who that will be.

“A well-structured […] story has within it an element that I call ‘why now?’ that is invaluable for qualification. Like the heroes of legendary epics, [potential clients] are initially reluctant and skeptical. (In Star Wars, when Obi Wan first invites Luke to rescue Princess Lea, Luke’s answer sounds like something a typical prospect might say: “Listen, I can’t get involved.”) The ‘why now?’ in your story explains exactly how your [potential client] is struggling, and why he/she is motivated to act now. (When the Empire bombs the home of Luke’s family, we know that Luke has to get involved.)”

—Andy Raskin, Strategic Storyteller

When a potential client identifies with the ‘why now?’ of your story, you’ve taken a huge step towards building that fruitful relationship.

Atelier Pan How to use story to boost your business (3 practical tips)

3. Make your case studies more appealing
Case studies are an invaluable part of your marketing strategy. In order to assess if you’re the right person to help them with their problem, (potential) clients like to know how you've helped others (like them) overcome a similar challenge. And case studies are a great way to do that.

However, nobody like to read case studies. They tend to be very boring to read and are not appealing at all. Usually they’re nothing more than a brief summary of “challenge/solution/results.”

What if you could turn a case study into a story that your (potential) client wants to read?

Let’s call them success stories from now on.

Success stories are about a character that has a problem. She meets someone who’s been there and is willing to help. Together they have to overcome many obstacles, but in the end they manages to make a change which helps them overcome the challenge she has been struggling with.

That sound a lot more interesting, doesn’t it?

You can tell that story to your (potential) clients when you base your case studies on these 7 questions:

  • Who is the main character who was helped?
  • What was her problem? What was the final goal that she wanted to reach?
  • Why was she motivated to accept your help (the ‘why now’)?
  • What was your plan to help her overcome her problem?
  • What obstacles did she face in reaching that her goal, and how did you (with your products/services) help her overcome them?
  • What is life like for the main character now that she has reached the her goal?
  • Were there failures along the way? Or what would have happened if you weren’t there to help her?

These are just three practical tips that help you tell your story to boost your business.

WORKSHOP: LEARN HOW TO TELL YOUR STORY

If you’re interested in learning more about storytelling and how to use story to boost your business, take a look at the Dare to be Different Live workshop:

I only have 1 place left available for the workshop on Sept 9 in Delft.
So if you're interested in joining, reserve your spot now: 

Hope to see you there!

With pleasure,

Simon

Atelier Pan | Brand Design for Conscious Entrepreneurs
Become more credible, attract the right clients and take your business to the next level.

PS. SHARE this article with your network by clicking on the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ buttons, because that way your fellow change makers can also benefit from this material.​

Leave a Reply 0 comments