How The Hell Do I Storytell?
Posted by Damon Nofar | September 18, 2017
Today, storytelling has become a buzzword every business is throwing around between meetings and conferences.

Storytelling has become such a buzzword that the simplicity of it has disappeared. But we all know how to tell stories. We do it all the time. Every day.

When you are having dinner with your love, you are telling stories about your day.

When you put your kids to bed, you tell them good night stories.

When you have a beer or cocktail with your friends, you tell each other stories that make you both laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time).

Storytelling is nothing new. It is what we have done since childhood.
But how do you actually tell a great business story?
If you work with marketing or sales, you know that you have to turn your products or services into great stories in order to get better results. The old "our product is the best" marketing does not work anymore. You need to catch people's emotions, and the only way to do that is with good ol' storytelling.

Let's cut straight to the case with some practical examples on how you can tell your story. Here are four scenarios:

1. Business story
How do you turn your products and services into good stories? Start thinking about what your real purpose in this world is. How does your business affect peoples' lives? What do people feel when they use your products or services? These are questions that can help you find your story.

Example of this: We did this exercise at LuggageHero when we were developing our marketing strategy. At first glance our business might say that we are in the luggage storage industry, right? That's just the surface.

We are really in the "make the most out of your travel experience and enjoy every second of it"-industry.

Our stories are about the feeling of being free from luggage when travelling. The feeling of exploring a city like a local and not like a tourist. E.g. enjoying your final hours in a new city rather than spending it strolling around with your bags. Lay in the grass and cuddle with your partner without worrying about your bags. Putting your arms around your partner rather than your bags, and so on.

These are our stories.
2. Sales pitch story
What do we usually do in sales pitches? We talk about our company, products and services in the most beautiful possible way to make us look awesome. Does this make us memorable? Probably not, since everyone else is doing the same about their business.

The most important thing in a sales pitch is to show to the prospective client what value they will gain if they invest in your product. Note that I wrote show and not "talk about your value". Demonstrate it with a client success story.

If you have a good product, you must have a client story that you can share. Tell them about a client from the same industry as your prospect, the situation they were in before they met you and how they are doing today. How did your offer add value to their business?

You can talk how much you want about your benefits and "better than competitor" points, but tell them a real case story if you really want to get the prospects attention.

Example of this: http://www.salesforce.com/eu/customers/

3. Investor pitch
This one should be pretty straightforward. You stand in front of a group of investors to pitch your new idea that solves an existing problem. The best way to get their attention? Tell them how you came up with the idea.

Most startups come up with their ideas from real life situations when they were actually facing a problem or challenge. For example, the idea for Uber came up on a snowy Paris evening in 2008 when (the founders) Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had trouble hailing a cab. So they came up with a simple idea - tap a button, get a ride (source: uber.com).

If you have a good idea people will relate to the moment you came up with it, which makes it a great story.

Example of this: Click the play button below to see how the startup Caribu begin their investor pitch with a story that instantly brings their idea to life.
3. Internal communications:
How many of new employees have been to business meetings where a senior manager is telling their personal story about being 20+ years in the company in an awkward way to motivate you?

This is probably not the best way to motivate your employees since today's young generation tend to change jobs four times before the age of 32.
(Source)

So, how can you motivate your new employees with a story? Tell them a story that gives their work purpose, so they feel that they are doing something valuable. Make them feel important.

Or tell them a story that shows development, that if they put in the work they can actually get somewhere. Bring in the senior manager that was in their shoes recently and let him tell his development story.

Example of this: A previous employer of mine was very honest and transparent about their history. During one of the first meetings they told us employees about the fact that they almost went bankrupt two years before I joined the company. They were ten employees in the office struggling to keep the business rolling. Now that situation was turned around and we were 100+ people in the same office and the economy was flourishing. This honest story made the company human, and it made me feel inspired to join the company and be part of the team that managed to accomplish this.

There you have it! A couple of examples to get you started on finding your business story. Keep it real, stay true to your mission and start storytelling!

Final advice? Use visuals to tell your stories. This definitely gets the brain running.
Other posts