This Is Why Your Business Strategy Needs A Dose Of Storytelling
Do you think anyone would use social media if it was a dumping ground for theories, jargon and statistics? Probably not. People flock to social media because of the stories their friends share. The pictures, the jokes, the embarrassing moments. Stories are the threads that create emotional connections between people. That's what makes storytelling so effective in marketing and communications.
As business leaders, we shouldn't limit storytelling to marketing. Strong storytelling can make an impact across your company and is an essential skill when it comes to building a solid business strategy. You can "talk at" your team all day about visions and missions and alignment and synergy, but without a clear illustration of the concepts you're trying to convey, you may as well talk to the wall.
If you can master three critical stories, you'll not only develop the foundation for a solid business strategy, but you'll also create an emotional connection between individual employees and the company as a whole. Through stories, you'll have an easier time getting your team aligned with the overarching company goals, and soon everyone will be headed in the same direction.
Who Are We Here For? The Story Of The Buying Event
You don't need an advanced degree to know that buying behaviors of today are drastically different than they were just a few years ago. And you don't need a crystal ball to know that those behaviors are likely to continue to change in the future. If your team doesn't understand the journey your buyers take from research through purchase, how can you expect them to be able to meet the needs of the customer along the way?
You've must be able to illustrate that journey for your team. Imagine your most ideal customer wanting your product or service, finding your business and then buying from you. Describe that buyer in detail, and walk through the journey to the sale. Your story should answer questions like:
- What precisely do they need?
- What was their motivation for investigating products or services like yours?
- How do your products and services address those specific needs?
- How did they find your company?What drove their decision to buy from you, rather than a competitor?
- What were the key decision-making factors that led to the "yes?"
Stepping into the shoes of your ideal buyer paints a powerful picture. It allows the team to see where the company's strengths truly lie, and where gaps in service may exist. More important, they gain a better understanding of how their work impacts the customer in a positive way.
Why Are We Here Each Day? The Story Of Why We Exist
Everyone wants to believe that the work they do has meaning. You don't have to be feeding starving children in Africa to have "meaning," either. Think about your own favorite businesses. The lunch counter waitress who knows your order when you walk through the door keeps your day running smoothly and makes you feel special. Your dry cleaner keeps you looking sharp - hopefully for a great price. Your accountant keeps you from paying too much in taxes.
In the same way, your company - no matter what business you are in - makes your customers' lives easier each day. Answer these questions in your story: How do your products or services make someone's day run smoothly? Make their job easier? Make their companies profitable? Every successful business does something positive for someone else. Paint a picture for your team of just what that "special something" is. It will make them feel more engaged in their work and will help everyone focus on the same goals.
Where Are We Going? The Story Of Our Future
You've got to have a vision and a goal, otherwise you're not moving forward. Traditionally, the story of your future is laid out in the company vision statement. But one statement isn't enough. Sit down with your statement and lay out the full story of where your business is going. What, exactly will it look like in five years? Place yourself in the hypothetical future and answer questions like:
- How many employees do you have?
- Have you expanded locations? If so, to where? How many?
- How have your product or service offerings changed?
- How has your ideal customer changed?
- How has your mission changed?
Telling the story of your future gives you and your team a clear picture of where you are going, lays out the map for the journey and gets everyone moving in the same direction.
Let's face it. The concept of "business strategy" can be quite bland. Nobody ever added business plans to their summer reading list, and your employees certainly don't want to spend their time scouring a boring strategy outline. This is where storytelling comes in. A great story in marketing wins the hearts and minds of your audience. Similarly, a great story in business strategy wins the hearts and minds of your team, and offers a clear illustration of why the company exists and where it is going in the future. If you can tell these three simple stories, you've got a business strategy that everyone can embrace!