No one can resist a well-told story. Stories are one of the first things we hear and engage with from the time we’re born. Storytelling is innately human and can be a valuable tool for content marketers. Business storytelling allows you to connect with audiences in more profound ways. By creating this kind of connection, you can attract and convert customers in a powerful way.
What Is Business Storytelling?
Stories are part of the human experience and have been for eons. Our ancestors told stories to pass down 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. These narratives aren’t a sales pitch. Rather, they provide a framework for buyers to see themselves and the journey before them. You can use business storytelling in many ways — blogs, long-form content, video, interactive content, and more.
So, why do stories have such an impact on those that read or watch them?
Storytelling Is More Heart than Mind
Does your content strategy connect with the heart or mind? Facts and data points are logical pieces of information. When you digest this, your brain begins to process it. That reaction is good in marketing, as people realize their problems and the solutions available. However, it s not a connection that has depth. There’s no emotion involved.
Stories are much different. They pull on your heart. Reading or hearing a story activates your brain differently. It often engages all your senses, and that leads to leaving an imprint in your brain. When this happens, you have stronger recall.
While data matters and is part of decision-making, ultimately, people buy based on emotions. Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman determined that 95 percent of purchase decisions are subconscious.
Business storytelling allows you to tap into buying based on emotions. That can be a tall order in the world of enterprise B2B content marketing. You may think your industry is too dry for stories, or your customers are too sophisticated. However, we all know that stories matter and drive us as human beings. They are part of our everyday life, and we crave them. Business storytelling allows you to stand out from the competition with a new angle.
How to Integrate Business Storytelling into Content Marketing
As a content marketer, you’re aware of the struggles in content planning and ideation. Many factors impact what you write about — your audience, trends, SEO, and more. If you’re hitting a wall here, you can find new momentum by weaving in business storytelling.
Your customers want content! They crave it in making buying decisions. Content consumption is increasing for B2B buyers. Netline’s 2022 State of B2B Consumption and Demand Report revealed that:
- B2B content consumption increased by 9 percent in 2021.
- C-level consumption rose by 15.8 percent in 2021.
Most of this will be your original content. In looking at how they flow through this funnel, you want to balance logic (e.g., statistics and data) and emotion. The logistics support your credibility, but they may not be inspiring. A good story is what this content mix needs, something that will elicit feelings!
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.”
The Elements of a Great Story
So, what makes a story “great,” and what should it include?
Great stories do these things:
- They engage your audience and create feelings and connections. It draws them in, and they want to know what happens next.
- They educate your audience so that people know more after consuming than before.
- They have universal appeal and can resonate with any of your personas.
For a story to be “great” and deliver on these, it needs three fundamental things:
- Characters of which one would be your customer. Help them see themselves in the story.
- Conflicts that represent the challenges your customers have and what you can solve. Conflict is pivotal to storytelling, as it is the emotional core.
- A resolution where the character solves their problem with a solution you provide.
Now that you know what makes a story great and the elements required, how do you use this in business storytelling?
Types of Storytelling in Business
There are many types of storytelling that work for content marketing. Here are some examples.
Topics Are the Story
In topic storytelling, characters that look like your audience are on a mission to uncover answers.
For example, the topic could be employee engagement, and that’s a problem your company solves with software that measures and supports this. The main character in this narrative is a manager with disengaged employees who realizes it’s an impact on the business. The arc could be context around employee interactions and other solutions that were deployed but failed. That’s where you’ll build the conflict, too.
For the resolution, the manager uses a new tool and sees how it positively affects employees. The ending demonstrates that the solution worked, and engagement increased.
In this example, there’s nothing to sell. You are engaging and educating.
Stories for Illustrating Points
Next is the practice of weaving storytelling into content with anecdotes to substantiate the points you’re making. Such stories could include excerpts from case studies, or they could be more personal in nature. For instance, a subject matter expert (SME) is the storyteller, and they can lend personal experiences to the content that supports the points more authentically than just the facts.
Content that Sounds Like a Story
Content doesn’t have to be a traditional story to sound like one. You can control context to mimic the qualities of a narrative. This requires two things:
- Prompt your audience to use their senses: Stories can engage all the senses, no matter the format. You can cause responses that guide the person to see, hear, touch, taste, and smell with the aid of words and visuals.
- Make your audience feel: Incite the senses to enable your audience to visualize the content. As a result, emotional connections can grow.
Business Storytelling: A Compelling Tactic for Content Marketers
Business storytelling is a proven tactic to capture the hearts and minds of buyers. It provides a way for you to always keep the audience’s perspective in mind. With this vantage point, you can find new and exciting opportunities to attract, engage, and convert. If it’s not part of your content strategy, it should be!
At DivvyHQ, we are storytellers and love to help content marketers tell their own! See how our platform can support business storytelling by starting a free trial.