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7 Simple steps to corporate storytelling success

Fig. — 
November 12, 2020
When it comes to content marketing and maximizing your brand experience - stories are the way to go. This has everything to do with neuroscience and how we, as humans, understand and process information.

But what does this mean for businesses?

In our previous blog, we explained in detail why digital storytelling is such a powerful tool that and how it can grow your business. In this blog, we’re going to explain how you can unlock this success in 7 simple steps.

When you, as a business, communicate you do it for a reason. Whether you want to educate, inspire, sell, connect, challenge, learn, build trust, or simply move someone to take action - you want something. For any of these things to happen, you need someone to pay attention to you. That’s where the power of storytelling comes in. Wrap your business facts, statistics, and figures in a story and you can captivate any audience.

Authentic stories allow brands to become relatable. If you’re able to move someone’s heart you can also move them to action.  Remember Nike’s empowering campaign “Dream Crazier”? It’s an excellent example of how a brand has managed to incorporate storytelling in their communication and content strategy. The focus of their 2019 campaign is on motivating their female customers to pursue their dreams, how big or crazy they might seem.

Now, you might not be playing in the same league as Nike just yet. But the good news is, you can get started with storytelling for your business today!

"In short: Every good story has a hero, who faces a problem, then meets a guide, who provides the hero with a plan to solve the problem. After the stakes become clear, the hero moves to action, so the hero can avoid failure, and deliver success."

The 7 steps to building a good corporate story.

Where to start? Corporate stories tend not to be about saving the world from eternal doom, finding true love, or attending wizardry school.

They’re different. And at the same time, they’re not. There’s a universal structure that good stories have in common.

This Universal structure creates a clear pathway for customers to engage and connect with your story. What are the 7 simple steps to get to a captivating story?

The Hero

Every powerful and captivating story has an instantly recognizable hero people can identify with. To make it crystal clear: Your customer is the hero of your business story. Your business, your brand, or even you, are NOT the hero.

Your customers should be able to identify themselves with the hero and the journey he/she is on. To create a hero people can identify with, you need to know what your customers really want, and what it is that will motivate them to connect genuinely. You need to understand the decision-making processes of your customer. Gain insights as to what moves them and tap into that.

The Problem

A problem in a business story is any challenge that your customer is facing and that you, your brand, or your product can help solve. What is the source of conflict that your business, brand or services defeat? Talk about this.

By focusing on a problem that’s relevant for the hero (and thereby your customer), you’re sure to grab the attention of your audience. The more your customers identify with the hero and its challenges, the more they will want the hero to win. This translates into the engagement you need to keep your customers captivated.

The Guide

You’re the guide in your business’ story. After the hero, the guide is the most crucial character in the story. You’re there to help the hero (your customer) save the day. As humans, we’re all looking for guides throughout our life to help us overcome our challenges.

As your customer’s guide, you’re demonstrating both empathy and authority. You’re showing an understanding of your customer’s problems. By positioning your business as the guide in your corporate story, you’re showing your customers that you care and that you have a concrete plan that can help them reach their goals.

The Plan

Provide a clear plan on how the hero can overcome the problem. Make sure you keep it simple. And make sure your hero understands how to execute the plan and what the first step is.

People like clarity and transparency. You want to make it as easy as possible for your customer (the hero) to do business with you. That’s why your plan needs to be to the point while also  addressing any remaining concerns your customers might have about doing business with you.  You might think your plan is simple, but have you ever asked someone who is not in your line of work? Check with someone if the steps in your plan are as clear and straightforward as they can be. If they lead to those “aha moments".

The Stakes

At this point, you’ve identified your customer’s problem and established yourself as a guide with a plan. Your customers might be onboard with the story so far, but they won’t take action (buy, engage, or move your way) unless you challenge them to do so.

In any good story, the hero only takes action when it becomes clear what’s at stake.
This principle works well in stories because this is how it works in life. Just like the first four parts of the successful story structure, this part should be clear and simple.

Remind your customers of the stakes and how to follow through with the plan. Always remember people take action when they’re challenged to do so.

Avoid Failure(s)

A good and compelling story hinges on the most important question: Will the hero succeed, or fail? It’s the potential successful ending and a possible tragic ending that keeps people at the edge of their seat throughout the story. With nothing to lose, nobody would care.

A tiny bit of doom is good for stories and for businesses alike. Without sounding like a negative Nancy, it’s essential to show your customers what failure might look like. This will remind them why it’s crucially important to overcome their challenge and act now rather than later.

Deliver success

But what’s more powerful than avoiding failure? Delivering success. After a small reminder of how to avoid failure, make sure you’re closing the story loop in a satisfying way. People want to be taken somewhere. Show your customers how doing business with you allows them to save the day and achieve success. And make sure you show them good.

The final act.

The final act of your story should appeal to your customers’ aspirational identity. This is the part that creates a mind-blowing brand experience and makes customers feel that your business delivers success as well as a genuine, positive transformation.

Regardless of your chosen subject, mastering these elements will help to create a successful corporate story. Keep your audience in mind every second of the way, while creating your corporate story. Do this, and you’re on your way to unlocking business success.

"The final act of your story should appeal to your customers’ aspirational identity."

Written by:

Joost Rueck

Managing Director
All Blog Posts

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