Why Your Startup Needs To Embrace Content Storytelling Right Now
Stories are powerful to an extent that’sdifficult to overstate. Events that we’d otherwise ignore become captivatingwhen assembled into narrative structures. This is partially a matter ofpresentation, but mostly due to the key role that storytelling plays in how wecommunicate — narratives have traditionally helped us to learn from each otherand bond as tribes.
Despite this, storytelling is oftenoverlooked as a business tool. Surprisingly many companies tend to take stickto matter-of-fact copy, both because they fear making creative mistakes andbecause they don’t entirely understand the value in telling brand stories.
But if you’re running a startup and tryingto make smooth progress along the road to major growth, you can’t afford to beso stubborn. In fact, you need to make storytelling a key part of your contentstrategy immediately — and here’s why:
You can get incrediblycreative with stories
When you’re sticking to the significantfacts about your latest products or services, or making dry references toindustry developments, there’s only so much you can do to make your accountstand out. That’s a problem when part of the startup journey is being noticedby the right people. You need something unique about you, and that’s somethingthat stories can accomplish.
While it isn’t generally a good idea tofictionalize elements of your brand story, you can be very creative withframing: you can choose interesting language, focus on specific emotions, orprovide it in an eye-catching format (as an infographic, for instance, insteadof a passage of text — Sculpt has a handy piece on visual brand storytelling).
Additionally, you’re not limited to tellingyour own brand story. You can create stories from scratch to promote yourproducts (provided it’s clear that they’re fictional) or commit some time totell the stories of your customers (it’s a great way to win loyalty and showthat you care). Getting interactive your audience is hugely valuable for PR these days.
Stories allow you to showhumanity and earn empathy
Think back to when you launched yourstartup — what did the prologue involve? It didn’t spring up out of anywhere,obviously. There’s a story behind the formation of your startup, and you’re atthe core of that story: what you felt, who helped you along the way, why youmade the decisions you made, and what you hoped to one day achieve.
Provided you build your story around aclassic narrative structure (Jericho Writers has a great story breakdown,so check it out for some pointers), using yourself as the protagonist, you caneasily get people on your side. When we read stories, we empathise with theprotagonists by default — as long as you don’t include anything in your storythat will turn people against you, the readers will end up understanding you alot better (and strongly rooting for you).
Stories are perfect forproviding emotional hooks
Empathy isn’t the only feeling you caninspire in someone with a story: any emotion you care to mention is within yourreach. In particular, joy, desire, frustration and nostalgia are all stronghooks that work perfectly for marketing — evoke them well, and you’llenormously increase the potency of your promotional content.
For instance, let’s say you’re trying tosell people on your new product, but you’re struggling to explain why exactlyit’s so worthy of their time. Instead of talking at length about the product,you can tell the story of the person you designed it for: what challenges theytypically face, how frustration can overwhelm them, and — of course — how yourproduct can change their life. Identifyingsomeone’s pain points and exploiting them is a core component ofconvincing someone to take whatever action you’re pushing.
Multi-part content is great forgetting attention
While it’s great for individual pieces ofcontent to prove effective, part of building a strong brand is getting itestablished as worthy of attention, and you need to be convincing those whoread your content to keep returning to your blog for more. Whenever you post anupdate, there should be a solid group of people clamoring to read it rightaway.
You can push people to return by ensuringsome degree of overlap and continuity between your posts (for example, writingone post on how to come up with blog post ideas, then writing another on how towrite blog posts, and having each one link to the other), but a story splitinto multiple pieces allows you to set out cliffhangers.
Supposing you did a multi-part case studyabout someone who used your product very successfully, and after you talkedabout their journey, you came to the point at which they heard about yourcompany… and then stopped. “Come back next week for the next part!”. We likestories being doled out in small chunks. It makes them feel more important andgives us things to anticipate. Plan a multi-part story and you’ll see howeffective it can be.
People are tired of corporatespeak
Finally, one thing that the astoundingpopularity of social media in the business world has taught us is that peopleare tired of the kind of generic and bland corporate speak that still getstrotted it out by risk-averse companies. Content storytelling is a fundamentalrejection of this kind of blandness — it demands feeling, and momentum, andnoteworthy events.
The best time to make a significant changeto how you produce content is while you’re still a startup because it gets somuch harder to change when your business gets bigger. Get into the habit ofproducing storytelling content, and it will set you in good stead for years tocome.