Tips for Better Business Storytelling

Even though I hate video, I know that for a lot of people it’s their preferred method of communication. For those of you out there, here’s a video on how to achieve more effective business storytelling.

One thing I haven’t figured out about business storytelling is how to get better thumbnails. Facebook and YouTube always select the funniest face.


Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)

Why nonfiction makes you a better storyteller

For thirty-six years I read only fiction. I could never understand why anyone would want to spend free time reading about reality.

And then I became a business owner.

When I opened my business a little over three years ago, I realized I needed a lot of help. So I began reading books like Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid and John Jantsch’s the Referral Engine.

And it didn’t kill me.

Continue reading “Why I Only Read Nonfiction (Now)”

Establish Your Business With Helpful Content

Telling your business story allows you to attract the right audience and connect with them. Help your audience with your contentBut attraction won’t keep them coming back.

Content will.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the most effective content is:

  • educational (telling someone how to do something)
  • informative (providing information they didn’t know)
  • entertaining

Here’s an example of a great piece I received from Hipmunk. It contains information that is relevant to me (I like to travel, but I’m cheap as all get out), educational (tells me I can save money if I buy now) and informative (I didn’t know airfares went up that much approaching July 4th).

Will this content motivate me to buy?

I suppose it would if I was planning a trip over the July 4th holiday, but I’m not. However, this is not a wasted marketing effort on Hipmunk’s part. Because they shared some valuable, helpful information with me, I am now beginning to see them as a resource for saving money.

They used their data and presented me with easy-to-digest information.

Well done.


Is Your Business Story Hanging Out with the Wrong Crowd?

In addition to being engaging and memorable, business stories serve as a guest list for your business. A well told business story communicates the kind of person you want at your party/business. If you don’t keep your audience in mind when crafting your story, you’re bound to attract the wrong crowd.

Your Audience is Part of Your Story

Writers frequently refer to their audience as co-creators of their story. The same can be said of an engaging business story.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about living the life you want to live. You have to do something that you enjoy. – Andy Freeman” 

Your story must resonate with your ideal customer to be effective.

Busch Beer and the Earned Approach

Take a look at this 2014 campaign by Busch Beer. The product isn’t even mentioned until the end frame.


Busch is appealing to the working man – the people who earn a drink at the end of a hard day. Its target audience is not customers who want a craft beer experience or those who squeeze fruit into their beers. They sell affordable, mass-produced beer and tell a story that appeals to the people who consume it. It’s one of hard work, community and grit.

They also don’t do it alone. Busch invites its viewers (and drinkers) to share their stories via social media.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company – Hops and Adventure

Compare Busch’s story with this beer maker:

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s story tells of how the founder followed his dreams. It incorporates powerful images of the adventurous spirit and implies these are people of means who have time and funding for exploration. It captures the beauty in nature and forgoes the grittiness. SNB appeals to people who drink beer for taste and give thought to how it’s made.

Two very different audiences with noticeable differences in the storytelling.

Both capture the ideal of being true to yourself and your interests but Busch does it in an approach that highlights a man following his boyhood dream. SNB’s company story highlights a man following his dream too but in a more adventurous exploratory way, with less focus on the amount of work and more focus on the experience.

By telling your story, you are also controlling who you are inviting in (to sample and purchase your product). In Marketing 101, you learn if you sell high end race cars, there’s no point in targeting the every man. He won’t/can’t buy from you.  The same holds true of your story. Your story should be evocative and resonate with your ideal customer.

It’s not enough to tell a meaningful, interesting story. You must keep your target audience – and what they relate to –  in mind, otherwise there’s no telling who will show up.


5 Ways to Beat the Fear in Storytelling

Storytelling motivates, inspires, bonds us to one another, yet why are so fewlose the fear to tell a story small businesses and organizations using it? Why do we keep shoveling out the same old product-driven drivel that our audience tunes out in seconds?

We do it out of fear. We’re scared to try something new. We have our campaigns on auto-pilot. All is right with the world…except people aren’t buying it anymore.

Let go of the fear. Dump it now.

Get past your fear and onto telling your story

It’s not difficult to tell a story — a story about you, a story about someone you’ve helped with your product or service, a story about inspiration but you have to shed the fear and look into the unknown.

You need to do this because big business is using stories to appear small. They are competing with you in your niche as the neighborhood _____. If you don’t tell your story, a multi-million dollar conglomerate will and they’ll do it well.

Here’s how to get over the fear:

Be yourself

This is frightening because you worry about alienating your audience. However, in a time where people want to do business with people they know (if only virtually), you are deciding between the possibility of masses of unengaged customers or limiting your customer base by being yourself but thus having them more intimately connected to you.

Which would you rather have people making an unconscious decision to buy based on whim or knowing that they are buying you? Unless you are a horribly offensive person (and, still, there is a market for that), be yourself.

Don’t be afraid of the customers you won’t get, be afraid of the customers you will (if you hide your personality).

Give it time

I know the number crunchers are going to hate this one but you can’t build relationships over night. Even the most adept networker, needs repeated exposure to maintain an impression. Don’t set a time limit of anything less than six months and don’t set that clock ticking unless you are out there making connections.

Hiring a great writer to throw stuff on your blog won’t have any effect on your connections unless you’re socializing the posts, having conversations, asking for feedback, commenting on others, etc.

We’re not 5. It takes us some time to make friends.

Come out of the ivory tower

Don’t limit your connections to people who come to you. Get out there. Join LinkedIn groups, share posts on Pinterest, ask questions on Facebook, comment on people’s blogs (and ask them to elaborate on their opinions). Do this often so they start recognizing and remembering you.

Remember, there’s an awful lot of racket out there. You have to show up more than once a week to make any kind of difference.

Help others

When you are helping others, it’s no longer about you. You can cast away your fear because you’re doing it for the betterment of others.

If you have a product or you represent a group that is of service to others, think about how promoting yourself through storytelling is getting your message of help out there. It’s your duty to do this and it’s no longer about you.

Share your knowledge

Similar to helping, give of your wisdom. Give of your experience. When you are sharing these things, it’s not about dirty marketing (the term I like to use for old school interruption marketing). We all have pasts we can draw from. We are a composite of these events.

Sharing your story is about sharing your knowledge.

Most of the great teachers of the world used parables to make their points. They did this because stories are memorable. You repeat them to others.

Don’t be motivated by fear. Use these suggestions to reframe how you look at storytelling. The point is to reach your audience in an effective way. Storytelling will help you do that.