Businesses and startups often forget the power of storytelling. Philip Pullman once said: “after nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” We crave a good story, and brands who realize this are the ones who truly succeed with customer loyalty, retention, and trust.
Startups must understand the harness the power of storytelling to make their brand stand out from the pack. Join us as we look at the strategies and tips all startups need to tell the best stories possible.
3 Concepts For Startups to Master Storytelling Today
Stories have a huge amount of influence over our emotions, and ultimately, our purchasing decisions. Our first impression of a brand or startup is incredibly important, which is why a strong story is key to capturing the minds of your audience.
Here are three concepts that all startups must master before they can start telling incredible stories that bring in customers and investors in equal measure.
Master The Pitch
Startups face a unique challenge: pitching their concept to customers and investors for the first time. This is your elevator pitch, if you will, and it’s the only opportunity you have to capture your audience. A startup’s storytelling journey begins here, with this all-important pitch.
Let’s explore some strategies to build the foundation of your storytelling within this pitch:
1. Make a Memory
Sometimes your pitch will happen when you approach your audience for the first time. Other times, it could happen when they visit your blog and experience your brand for the first time. In either case, the goal is to make the experience memorable. Give them something to walk away with.
You can do this in one of several ways:
- Target pain points. Remind your audience of something that causes them discomfort, and then show how your product/service alleviates that pain.
- Provide unique stories or anecdotes that offer a new point of view.
- Include a fact about yourself in the pitch. Make it personal and human.
- A shocking fact also works well, as it grabs attention.
- Involve Real People
Pictures truly speak a thousand words, especially if you use them correctly. When you’re pitching your product, it’s important to show real people. If your audience sees other people enjoying your product, they’re more likely to try it themselves.
It’s the same reason that testimonials are so powerful. The element of social proof is key. A perfect example is the feeling you see when you drive by an ice cream shop and you see a line out the door. You immediately want to try that ice cream because everyone else is lining up for it.
If you can incorporate real people and real situations into your pitch, your story will have a much stronger effect.
- Keep it Light
You don’t need to be a comedian to run a successful startup, but that doesn’t mean you need to be serious all the time. Laugher is a great way to break up a pitch and keep everyone relaxed. If you can find an opportunity to inject humor, be sure to do it.
The 3 Elements of an Effective Story
Now that you’ve discovered the secrets to a great pitch, the next step is to build a story that can support not only your pitch, but your entire startup. Writing a story for business or marketing is very similar to writing a story for a book or novel.
Here are three elements you need to have in your stories, no matter how long or short they are:
First and foremost, you need relatable characters that audience members can connect with. You don’t need anything crazy like Ed Norton’s character in Fight Club, but you should include real and relatable people in your stories.
Avoid using business related terminology and instead, talk about the character’s feelings, desires, flaws, and passions. These things will forge memories more than a fancy ad ever could.
- A Structured Plot
You need to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Even if you’re telling a quick story in a tweet, it needs to maintain this structure. A simple example would be identifying a character who has a problem your audience will recognize. This character used your product in a certain way, and it changed that aspect of their lives for the better.
Notice how that example fit into those three categories. You need to make sure your stories all follow that structure. It’s a little more complicated than you will probably need, but checking out the Hero’s Journey is a great way to familiarize yourself with story structure.
Any story worth the words on the page has conflict. This is the part where something goes wrong and leaves the audience waiting for a resolution. In the realm of marketing and business, the conflict is the problem your audience faces in their lives.
What’s holding them back from true happiness? How does your product or service get them one step closer to a happier and healthier life? This is where your conflict will come into play. The answers to these questions represent your resolution.
Cliffhangers are great and all, but in marketing, your stories should always have a happy ending with some sort of resolution.
Avoid Storytelling Sins
Storytelling is a skill we all possess, but in your pursuit of a startup story that wows, be careful not to fall into some of the mistakes others have made. There’s an art to storytelling that requires careful balance and understanding.
Before we part ways, let’s take a look at the seven deadly sins of storytelling:
- Telling, not showing – Don’t tell your reader how to feel. Instead, show them through the events of the story and let them decide how to feel. Describe everything to them accurately and in detail.
- Too much jargon – Please don’t stuff you stories with complicated words. Your audience either won’t understand, or they won’t care. Keep it standard and simple.
- Not enough personalization – It doesn’t matter what you sell, you need to find the human side of it. Give your audience a reason to care.
- Always start from the beginning – This isn’t always the case. You can start anywhere in the story, just make sure your slice is interesting and has the arc we discussed.
- No conflict – A story without conflict is like a sandwich without condiments. Sure, you can still eat it, but it has no flavor, so why would you?
- You made it up – stories are meant to be interesting and exciting, but don’t do something that’s entirely made up for your business. Instead, look for ways to incorporate real life or real people
- One storyteller – Your business can tell stories, but you need to diversify. Have your employees or better yet, your customers tell their stories as well
Storytelling is the secret that many startups are missing. Every story is unique, which gives your brand an immediate edge. Harness its power and avoid the pitfalls that others have made, and you’ll find your brand captures more minds and hearts than ever before.
How do you incorporate storytelling into your branding? Let us know in the comments!