How to Use Storytelling Principles for Great Business Writing
When someone says "Your brand should tell a story," what do they mean by that?
We believe it means that you should minimize conflict through answering objections in a smooth, cohesive way. This means using personality, anecdotes, and yes, stories, to address all potential risks related to purchasing your product or signing up for your offer. For instance, maybe a new prospect doesn't see the value in your offer immediately, or they don't understand how your product solves their problem, or even the technology behind it. Maybe that prospect downright doesn't trust you, for whatever reason. These are exactly the kinds of hiccups in the sales process that great content - and elegant storytelling - can and should address.
But what is storytelling anyway?
Storytelling, in many ways, is how we share our ideas, and there is a tried-and-true science behind it. Here's how the late, great writing teacher Jerry Cleaver expressed the formula for great storytelling:
Now how can this be applied to business writing?
Our goal in business isn't necessarily to tell a compelling story - although that's certainly a plus - it's to incite action. And action can be anything from signing up for an email list to purchasing a product through your site. Here's how we've readjusted Jerry's formula specifically for business writing:
In other words, your product is the resolution to your customer's problem (aka what they walked in with). This is where having empathy, conducting market research, and truly understanding your customer are essential.
Your story is why they should care - anything from intrinsic motivations to your history, methodologies, things you've learned, reasons why you're different from the competition, etc. Why you, specifically? What makes your offer truly unique? What do you see that the competition does not?
The conflict is every reason why someone wouldn't buy. This is maybe the hardest section to address because you have to be brutally honest with yourself to come up with potential objections about why someone wouldn't want to work with you. But it's non-negotiable, because objections can happen even if your offer is perfect. After all, we're all wired to try to get the best deal. It's human nature to push back a little, and you should be ready for it.
And finally, action is your overall goal - which, if you've hit all three of the previous aspects, should hopefully be a no-brainer.