Santa’s gift to communicators
9 December 2014, Blog
Christmas is a time of much storytelling – from traditional to self-created tales.
And as much as these stories are compelling and memorable to the children they are aimed at, storytelling is having the same effect in the corporate world. Corporate storytelling or brand narrative have entered the vernacular and are helping businesses engage with the hearts and minds of their target audiences.
Storytelling in the business world has been fuelled by the explosion in social media and the need to rise above the content clutter. Bringing your business to life in an engaging way is key in a multi-media environment where as one expert points out “we are not just dealing with an audience, but an audience of audiences” whose collective voice is extremely powerful.
There’s no better corporate storytelling than the Lego Movie – they’ve managed to create a blockbuster where their product plays the starring role.
Done well it can highlight everything from company values and commitment to customer service; to the positive impact of what you do and major points of differentiation.
So how do you tell a good corporate story?
- Make it simple, captivating and memorable – think of how children are engrossed when you create a Christmas storyline for them. Too often companies bombard their audiences with too much information and expect them to connect everything up. This is particularly important where business activity is either complex or intangible.
- Understand what you want to get across to your audience and align to the story you wish to include so the point you are making comes alive.
- Know who you are aiming your story at and what they would like to hear – when you are developing your storyboard you need to understand your audience as with any business communication. Take time to build up a picture of the potential interests of your audience from reading their industry press to monitoring what people are following and liking on social media. All creators of stories – from authors to journalists – put many hours of research into their productions. Businesses should be no different.
- Draw on your experience both in and outside work – personal experiences are often the same for others so it is likely to resonate.
- Focus on the outcome of what you do. A good example of a relatively small business I came across was a B2B manufacturer of pre-engineered masonry products for contractors and home builders. Let’s face it on the surface the masonry industry isn’t the most riveting of stories. However the company’s approach was to not focus on the raw materials they sell but the end results, which are visually stunning. Their story charts the journey of their products from their point of manufacture to the end customer.
- Use in both internal and external communications: from sharing stories of exceptional customer service with salespeople, rather than sales figures, so they can learn how it’s done as part of their development; to showcasing unparalleled customer experiences through the eyes of the buyer.
- Humanise your story. As one expert commented: “Customers want to engage with people, not with a corporate logo. Including faces – whether they are staff, investors, customers or the general public – can help engage your brand whilst at the same time creating trust.
So when you are telling a Xmas story to a family member this festive period, let it inspire you to apply the principle to your own work and business – it’s a gift that will reap dividends.