No one can resist a great story. When you create content for your audience, it should be engaging and relevant, not a commercial for your brand. Content marketing includes many tactics to attract and convert. One of the most important is business storytelling. Connecting with content is possible and more fruitful when you harness the power of storytelling.
What Is Business Storytelling?
Stories have been part of humankind for thousands of years. Our ancestors used stories to pass along traditions, explain the world, and remember the past. Those stories still exist, and that’s precisely the approach to take in business storytelling.
Simply put, business storytelling is a content marketing strategy that uses a story structure. You can use it in many ways to drive positive benefits. Audiences aren’t getting a sales pitch. Instead, they enter a journey to solve their challenges. It can take many formats, from long-form content to videos to interactive content.
So, why do stories drive this type of connection?
Heart vs. Mind
When you think about your content strategy, are you appealing to a customer’s heart or mind? Facts and figures are logical. When you intake this information, your brain begins processing it. That’s important when trying to attract your customers, but it’s not a genuine connection because there’s no emotion behind it.
Stories, on the other hand, speak to your heart. When you read or hear a story, your brain has a different reaction with many more activations, including all your senses. As a result, stories begin to imprint in your brain, leaving a stronger recall.
While facts and figures matter and are part of buying decisions, emotion is stronger. According to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, 95 percent of purchase decisions are subconscious.
Business storytelling taps into this notion. Often, the biggest issue is taking topics that may be boring and infusing them with personality. Great stories that engage readers will leave their mark, providing differentiation from your competitors.
Integrating Business Storytelling into Your Content Marketing
The process of content planning can be cumbersome. From choosing topics and angles to SEO, it’s a constant challenge for enterprise content teams. You can breathe new life into these exercises by leaning on business storytelling.
The reality is that your buyers are seeking something relevant and compelling in content. And they are consuming it! The average B2B buyer consumes 13 pieces of content before making a purchase. The majority of that is your original content.
Their logical side will appreciate the statistics and data points. It won’t inspire them, though, as a good story can. The right story at the right time sparks curiosity. Curious buyers are good buyers. You’re forming that connection you seek.
Poet Maya Angelou said it best, “At the end of the day, people won’t remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel.”
What Makes Stories Good, and What Are the Key Elements?
So, what makes a story “good,” and what should it include?
- Engage: Your audience enjoys the content and doesn’t disconnect from it.
- Educate: Readers come away from the story with learnings.
- Apply universally: Much of the time, they aren’t niche unless your audience is very specific. They can resonate with anyone.
- Stick around: The story leaves an impression on the reader, one they won’t soon forget.
A story also has three main elements:
- Characters: Your audience is the character, so make sure they relate to him/her.
- Conflict: Characters have challenges, and they need to overcome them. Conflict elicits emotions and is pivotal to connection.
- Resolution: The character solves the problem, and you navigate your audience to a relevant call to action.
Types of Storytelling in Business: What Narratives Drive Connections?
There are various types of storytelling you can use to enhance your content marketing efforts. Here are three different ways to use narratives in content marketing.
Your Topic Is the Story
In topic storytelling, your character (audience) is on a voyage or mission to find answers.
Here’s an example:
The topic is employee engagement. Your company sells a software product that helps improve this.
The main character is a manager dealing with unengaged employees, and that’s impacting the business. For the narrative arc, you can talk about her interactions with employees or the other solutions she tried but didn’t work.
Finally, she finds a new tool that’s easy to use, affecting her staff’s behavior. The ending is that the team is stronger and more connected.
There is no hard sell here. You’re painting a picture of what your audience may be experiencing and educating them on a solution.
Stories to Illustrate Your Points
Weave storytelling into your content with anecdotes to support points made. These stories could relate to case studies from customers, or they could be more personal. Suppose a subject matter expert (SME) is developing the story. In that case, they probably have personal experiences to share that can enhance the credibility of the point.
Content that Sounds Like a Story
Content doesn’t have to be a story to sound like one. You can influence context so that it mimics the qualities of a narrative. This requires two things:
- Make your audience use their senses: No matter the format, you can engage all senses. You can elicit responses that dial into seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling, whether using visuals or words.
- Make your audience feel: Leverage the senses to help your audience visualize the content. In doing so, emotional connections can grow.
Business Storytelling: A Key Strategy for Content Marketers
If you want to capture the hearts and minds of buyers, business storytelling is an excellent tactic. It helps you consider the perspective of the audience better than anything else. Shifting this vantage point opens up many opportunities for impactful content.
Make it a priority for your brand to improve the performance of your content.
At DivvyHQ, we love telling stories and helping content marketers tell them! See how our platform can support your storytelling efforts by starting a free trial.