Storytelling is Not Just for Bedtime

Many nonprofit organizations have been taking advantage of the storytelling tactic for years. That’s no surprise considering stories appeal to our emotions and generate action.

Remember the days of your parents reading you a bedtime story? You’d snuggle in with your favorite stuffed animal, and soon, you would drift off to sleep. The world felt right during those storytelling moments.

As the face of your brand, logos are pretty important. They give a glimpse into its culture and values. But, a logo doesn’t tell it all. You can’t expect your customers to understand exactly what your logo is meant to convey. Therefore, we tell stories.

We’re not trying to say that they should put you to sleep like your old bedtime stories, but they should spark an emotion, a connection or some kind of reaction like the fairytales we’ve always heard.

Many nonprofit organizations have been taking advantage of the storytelling tactic for years. That’s no surprise considering stories appeal to our emotions and generate action. In other words, stories makes us feel connected to a cause, spark a desire to make a difference, and ultimately, make us want to donate our time or money.

However, storytelling isn’t just for nonprofits. To gain loyalty with customers, you must do more than just “sell” your business. You have to make your business appealing, tap into emotions, and tell a story that is authentic to you. Every business has a story, and every business should tell it. Believe it or not, customers really are interested! If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas that can help.

1. Find your spark

Start by determining the message you want to express. Your mission statement is a great place to start for inspiration. Consider what makes your business’s story special. Once you think you’ve found your message, ask yourself these questions: “Do I feel any strong emotion when I think about my message?” “Would I remember this message if I were part of the audience?” “Was there any element of surprise, redemption or relief?” When you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, then you’ve found your spark!

2. Find your medium

There are plenty of ways to tell your business’s story. Weave that story into a blog post or on the “about” page of your website, transmit it through a series of social media posts, speak about it at an event or tell it through video.

3. Craft the story

Here’s the fun (okay, maybe a little intimidating) part! The first thing to remember is that you don’t want to make the story too “advertise-y” or “braggy.” You’re simply telling your business’s story – no motive. Start with a simple writing guide: beginning, middle and end; problem, climax and solution; set the scene, develop the characters, create the conflict and find the resolution. Remember the first rule of storytelling: Show, don’t tell. This doesn’t mean that it should only be visuals, but rather that you should use words to create a visual and convey the message. Be creative when constructing your storyline. Avoid clichés and think outside of the box. Be specific and stick to one storyline. Lastly and most importantly, make sure the story is memorable.

4. Be real

Sounds easy enough, right? Fabricating a story to sound more appealing can be tempting. Make sure to stay true to your business’ culture and values while still relating to your audience. For example, a funny video is effective for some, but it may not be the right choice for every business. Instead, your business could focus on the way you interact with your community that your company is built in or your efforts to care for the world around you. While humorous videos are more likely to go viral, they aren’t the only effective way to generate emotion. Emotions that inspire, surprise or challenge the audience are just as effective in building customer loyalty.

Storytelling is not only a fun way to relate to your customers, it has become crucial in building brand loyalty and capturing attention. We’ll leave you with one of our favorite quotes: “There are two ways to share knowledge. You can push information out, or you can pull them in with a story” ~Unknown.

Which group would you rather be in?

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