The best way to get customers interested in what you have to sell isn’t to sell it, it’s to storytell it! It’s important to share more than just products and services with your customers, and be able to form relationships with them. A great way to do this is to tell the stories of your business, employees, and customers. I reached out to members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs, to see how they pull off business storytelling online:
1. Wash, Rinse, Repeat
We’re a storytelling company, so we’re constantly telling the story of our business. We get a lot of practice. The beauty of practicing your story is that it evolves every time as your business evolves. Share it often. Rewrite it frequently. Include other primary members of your team, and hear how they tell portions of it. Ultimately, your story will grow with you. Tell it constantly.
2. Include Your Customers
Make sure you integrate the problem or pain point that your company solves for customers. While some people might be interested in why you started a company instead of pursuing other options, your potential customers are your real audience and need to know what’s in it for them.
3. Focus on Your Arc
Craft the story arc for your company. You will naturally begin with why you are in business. What was the impetus or market need for starting it? What is your perspective on how that has changed and how your customers should respond? Lead with how you think, and they will become interested in what you do. Your blog is a logical first place to tell your story, and it can sprout from there.
4. Utilize Video
Video paints a great picture for your audience, and it creates a strong connection with words and pictures. A nice video with a co-founder or leader can humanize your company. It’s a great vessel to communicate your story.
5. Incorporate Humanity
Don’t tell your product’s features. Instead, sell your product’s benefits. There is an old adage: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” Bring humanity into your online story to demonstrate to the viewer why your product will enrich his life. If you don’t establish that connection, you will be fighting an uphill battle based on feature comparison.
6. Present an Elevator Pitch
Telling your business’ story is like giving an elevator pitch. Just like an elevator pitch, it has to be short and sweet and leave the audience wanting more. The story should also be refined over time based on reactions and feedback. The best stories trigger an emotion and focus on a problem. A great business story should be no more than two sentences.
7. Be Concise
People don’t have a lot of time, so it shouldn’t take a lot of time to explain what you do. Your audience should be able to understand what you’re pitching in one sentence. Use one set of visual aids or a short video that’s 60 seconds or less. Unfortunately, the message will be lost if it’s any longer. Guaranteed.
8. Focus on Reasons
The consumer environment is changing. Companies thriving in today’s marketplace create a reason for people to do business with them beyond the products or services they sell. For example, Amazon doesn’t “sell” books; they sell customer information and experience. Zappos doesn’t “sell” shoes; they sell service. Give reasons people do business with you beyond just your products.
9. Be Personal
People remember stories. And stories usually have a protagonist. It’s important to personalize complicated technology products to something that’s personable. Your business story should involve a personal story of a problem and then a triumph in which the protagonist was involved.
10. Let Others Tell it For You
I can tell my company’s story until I’m blue in the face. But it means a lot more when my customer shares their experience of growing with the brand. When I am telling the story, I focus on the story arcs of particularly compelling users who have found success with our platform, rather than rattling off the growth and revenue numbers.
11. Understand Your Brand
Your business has a lot of stories, but which stories will drive the results you want? Take the time to define your brand, especially what makes you special and valuable. Then, ensure it aligns with your business goals and intended audience. This will give you the framework to evolve your story with the market and your business opportunities while staying true to yourself and your purpose.
12. Focus on Numbers
Everyone claims his biz is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it’s tremendously helpful to quantify these statements. If you can demonstrate your growth, popularity and success using specific numbers, you’ll add credibility to your story.
13. Make It Tweetable
Help people share your business story online by having tweetable moments. Do you have any 140-character takeaways? Next time you’re telling your business story in person, expand your reach by inviting the audience to live tweet.
14. Exhibit Modesty
Be modest in how you approach your story and grateful for the success you’ve had so far. Everyone has a similar startup background: long days, minimal sleep and too much coffee. Instead of sharing your struggles, keep it positive and relatable by showing you want to continue growing and are excited for where the company is headed.
15. Make It Relatable
People love to hear a story that could have been their own. Not only will you have a fan for life, you could inspire someone else to follow his dream.
Those are the top storytelling tips from 15 successful young entrepreneurs. As for my number one tip to online storytelling? StoryTell it with pictures and video! Here’s the story of the birth of our first business, Likeable Media, told with a picture, followed by the story of what our current business, Likeable Local, does, with a video:
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Now it’s YOUR turn. What do you do to get your business’s story online? How do you show customers you have the ability to solve their problems? Please let me know in the Comments section below, and please share the post with the entrepreneurs in YOUR LinkedIn network.
If you liked this article, you will LOVE my new book, Likeable Leadership, a collection of 65 inspirational stories on marketing, your career, social media, and more!
Dave Kerpen is the founder and CEO of Likeable Local. He is also the cofounder and Chairman of Likeable Media, and the New York Times bestselling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business, and the just-released Likeable Leadership. To read more from Dave on LinkedIn, please click the FOLLOW button above or below.