To Tell A Story: Five Tips for Storytelling for Startups
Stories are central to our existence. We are ingrained with generations of stories which are told and re-told. Whether it’d be scary stories of creatures prowling in the night or stories about moral values, we are told stories essential to our development and growth. We are constantly exposed to different narratives around us. In such a way, stories are vital for education and engagement between humans. The startup world is no stranger to this human condition either. Storytelling is often perceived as a small bonus to a business rather than being a foundation. However, storytelling has the power to make your company stand out from the crowd and can be an essential means to build effective communication for successful deals. With everything slowly becoming more online due to the pandemic, storytelling is becoming increasingly important for any business. Here are five tips to help your startup to grow through storytelling:
1. Humanize Your Brand:
For any story to be credible, it has to be authentic. Otherwise, the audience can see right through any attempts at manipulation. In order to make your story successful, you have to humanize your brand. Any successful startup is able to show the audience that you are also a human-like them. Share personal stories, anecdotes, customer testimonials, and shared concerns about the world, things which can be spread all over social media and blogs. A convincing story is always the one that feels the most human.
An example of a good PR campaign that humanized their brand would be Burger King urging the customers to order from rival food chains like McDonald’s three days before the second CoVID-19 lockdown in the UK. The company encouraged customers to support such brands as the staff struggled a lot due to the pandemic. This was a good story because it showed the customers that the company wasn’t simply just there for profit, but it had a human side too.
2. Bring Your Shared Purpose to Life:
While authentic and believable stories are crucial, a successful story as a next step convinces the audience that they have a collective concern or problem in which they can work together to engage. Successful startups always identify more significant concerns that bother potential customers or investors. Your company has to identify them and even work with the customers and investors to find a meaningful solution to the problem.
Sports brands are especially good with such narratives. Companies like Adidas, Nike, New Balance, etc., often convince potential customers that good health and sporting lifestyles are shared concerns. Nike employs a strong message through their campaigns. For example, one of their messages is:
To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.
*” If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
Nike isn’t simply trying to solve a problem for the customer; instead, they are solving a problem with the customer.
3. The Message Should Be Simple, Clear and Repeatable:
While social media and blog posts are definitely crucial for any business, your words are what sells your products or services to potential customers and investors. Avoid any overly technical jargon or specific details that the customer or investor wouldn’t understand. Instead, focus on the critical message that you want to deliver to your customer. The point of storytelling is not to share technical details about your startup but for fellow humans to communicate and find a solution to a shared problem.
Shark Tank US offers excellent examples of lucid storytelling. The successful stories there convince not only the investors but also the customers to buy the products. One of the startups in the show, Scrub Daddy, had a powerful yet simple message for the product. The messaging behind the product was simple: to provide a simple solution for a lot of utensil cleaning concerns without any technical know-how or training. Scrub Daddy is now the most successful company in the show, valued at $70mn.
4. Spread Your Story Across All Channels:
Many startups have powerful and convincing stories to tell, although they fail to capture any eyes because they are often invisible. Make sure to spread and align your stories across all channels (offline, online, advertising, copywriting, design, website) to build a consistent brand. It is not enough to spread your brand publicity content on your website; it is also required for the CEO to be on LinkedIn to engage directly in queries.
5. Tell Your Story From The Beginning:
Most startups make a mistake by only focusing on developing their product or service in the beginning rather than spending time on producing their story as well. Stories are the heartbeats of any company, and it is a decision to keep engaging in storytelling through interviews, podcasts, and videos so that you can help prospects to visualize your idea better.
Steve Jobs, one of the most well-recognized geniuses in marketing, convinced John Sculley, then President of Pepsi-Cola, to become the CEO of Apple in the early stages of their company. Jobs directly confronted Sculley, saying, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling flavoured sugar water, or would you rather change the world with me?”. Sculley couldn’t refuse such an offer.
Storytelling is thus an essential tool for any business to grow. Therefore it is vital for startups to use storytelling to attract investors too. We tried to see how different companies used these critical ways to expand their business. These tips are surely useful to fully use the power of storytelling.