Since The DB&A Television Network picked up the Business Storytelling Show, more people have asked: What is business storytelling anyway? Good question, and that’s what I discuss in this article.
- What is business storytelling?
- How do you know what your business’ story is?
- The channels and implementation
- Being intentional about storytelling skills
- Creating a content performance culture that can make it work
- Using the right technology
What is business storytelling?
Business storytelling is the art and science of sharing your company’s stories. Think of how salespersons hop on calls. They tell the relevant pieces of the company’s story. “Oh, that’s the problem you are trying to address? We created xyz because of ABC to address that.”
What stories we share specifically depends on where in the customer journey the consumer is.
- At the top of the funnel, we might share thought leadership content and discuss topics they care about. Podcasts fit here, too.
- Towards the middle of the funnel, it might be how-to content.
- At the bottom of the funnel, when people are ready to buy, it might be more about the features of a product and the story behind why they exist, and how they can help you.
Business storytelling is the art and science of having a straightforward brand story that helps your company position itself in the market and keeps the audience at the forefront.
How do you know what your business story is?
Businesses started for one reason or another. Start there. Ask the founders why the company started. What prompted it? Are there specific problems that appeared that accelerated the company launch?
This can be a good foundation for telling the business story in the future. But sometimes, founders will say things like they stumbled into the business or took it over from somebody retiring or leaving for another reason.
While these are perhaps interesting personal anecdotes, the value to the customer of knowing those stories is probably not that high.
Use what you have when it makes sense and share it with customers when it’s relevant. But ask deeper questions:
- Why would our customers care about this?
- How do we know?
- What do we have to say that is likely unique about us?
- How will we share this content, and how will it be produced?
Keep in mind that the stories we share also must be believable. We can’t just say that we are good at this or that when we are not. The service, product, and story, after all, have to align.
The number of channels indeed has exploded in recent years. I recommend using the Create Once, Publish Everywhere Model (COPE) to get the most out of your business storytelling. And the features of all the different channels change, too, as we can see just by the different strategies discussed on my blog and podcast.
- Creating and publishing web stories
- How to do LinkedIn audio
- Multistreaming and what platforms to use
- How to publish a podcast with video on Spotify
- Using social media polls on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter
- Business storytelling in a web3 world
Just a few years ago, none of those tactics even existed.
Those are just a few updates to consider regarding channel strategy. As a general rule, I would recommend focusing on:
- Building your home base on your website
- Hop on trending new social media features quickly to see if they can drive quick wins. That could include web stories, TikTok trends, and even livestreams with experts.
- Use the right mix of paid and organic strategies to drive shorter-term and long-term engagement.
- Email marketing still works.
Remember that some channels move quickly (like paid) while others (think SEO) might take a while to drive results. The trick is to have an integrated business storytelling strategy and keep going.
Being intentional about storytelling skills
Author Neil Hoyne said on a podcast episode that storytelling skills used to come secondary. Companies asked people to do specific things and then added, “oh, and can you share the results in a meaningful way?”
To truly make it work, we must learn the skills needed to share business stories internally and externally in the best and most impactful way possible.
Why do some companies struggle with storytelling? Rob Biesenbach says that people psych themselves out and compare themselves to storytellers with massive audiences. Don’t do that and live in the real world.
Creating the culture to make it work
To make it work, it is essential to have the right culture. For example, don’t tell the public how you collaboratively created a product if collaboration isn’t encouraged in the company.
Creating a culture that publishes good business stories only works when content is actually published. This seems common sense, but some teams can overthink or over-engineer the publishing part. That can include too many approvers for each piece of content: slow production times and even siloed teams.
Read next: What is approval hell?
Workflows should be as easy as possible with the proper checks and balances. Yes, content should be reviewed, but we must accomplish that somewhat efficiently.
The same holds for production. I’m not a fan of content being created on one platform, then copied and pasted into another where it gets published. Those workflows, which admittedly were very common and still are to an extent, add time and the possibility of adding mistakes.
It’s also useful for executives to lend their brands to business storytelling. Share stories on social media, publish guest articles, and more. Of course, that doesn’t mean the execs have to do all the work – get help from marketing! But being out there helps.
Also, consider the importance of internal communications. Share updates with employees that can easily be consumed. Maybe an internal podcast is a way to go. Or soundbite – but more frequent – updates in Slack channels.
When teams share content publicly, make sure it’s somehow shared internally.
Using the right technology
Technology doesn’t create culture, but it certainly can enable it. That’s why it’s important to use the right tools that don’t slow us down, are easy to use, and help us succeed with our business storytelling. Here are some of the software platforms that I use for content production.
- WordPress for article production and publishing. Easy to use and allows all article assets to be in one place.
- Restream. I use Restream to multistream my live-streamed podcast and record it for my audio podcast.
- Trello. To keep track of projects.
- Buffer. Social media scheduling.
- Anchor. Podcast publishing.
- Canva. Some design work.
Those are some of the tools I use to make my workflow as easy as possible. Your specific tools likely depend on the current situation (i.e., legacy tools), goals, and decision-makers. It could be an uphill battle if one leader is in love with a specific tool – even if it’s not the best in the market.
I remember when I was trying to get a team to use Zoom, and a leader said that the tool was hard to use and he wanted to stay with the legacy platform, which was harder to use.
My point here is: To make business storytelling a success, find a way to publish those stories. And to get there, the story’s content, how it’s presented, and how easy it was to get to that point all matter.