Storytelling has been a business buzzword for the past few years for good reason. First, stories are a great way to connect employees to the organizational mission and to each other. Second, stories are a great way for customers to connect with your brand and want to do business with you. Let’s consider two approaches. You’re a manager and want to get your employees behind a new initiative. The first approach is to simply tell them what they are going to do to support the initiative. Think “hey team, the company’s focus is accomplishing X, you need to do whatever you can to do it.” The alternative approach is to tell a story to illustrate why they are an integral part of the success of the initiative. It goes like this “hi team, I’ve called a meeting today to discuss with you the future of the organization and an important strategic initiative that they need your help in accomplishing. I know the strengths that we have on this team and I feel like there is no better challenge that we can face and conquer together.”
What approach is more motivating for you? If you’re like most, it is the latter. You crave a genuine connection to what you are doing. You want it to have personal meaning. That is what storytelling does, it connects employees to the business and customers to the brand by triggering an emotional experience.
New to storytelling? Here are some tips on how to incorporate storytelling into your business.
- Go beyond the surface level. Employees and customers alike can tell when they are being “sold.” They want a genuine connection at a deeper level. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and real.
- Use stories to connect to a bigger purpose. It has been found that Millennials today desire to work and shop at socially conscious companies. Brands like Patagonia and TOMS have found great success by investing in social issues and showing that by doing business with them you are making a difference in the world. Focusing on social issues will not only attract customers but also employee’s as the new generation of Millennials strive to work for socially conscious organizations.
- Understand your audience. This goes beyond the key demographics to an emotional level that addresses their pain points. When you understand both employee and customer pain points, you can make more informed decisions to alleviate their pain.
- Know your key message. What do you want people to know about your organization? If you had one minute to answer with no preparation, could you? If the answer is no, you do not likely have a strong and easy to understand message. Craft an inspiring vision or mission that you can share to help people connect with your organization.
- Be relatable. Use an easy conversational tone with common language that is understood by your audience. If your message is too complex, it will not be heard. Also, be personal. Show them that you too are human and experience the same challenges they do. The more relatable you are the easier it is to connect with you.