Business storytelling is a form of business communication in which messages are put into the story framework. When a business communicator uses the story framework, the message will be better understood, the audience becomes more curious about what happens next, and they become insipired to act upon the message.
What you should know about Business Storytelling
The science of storytelling focuses on what happens in our brain when we here a story. Stories are the longest known form of communication dating back over 2000 years in the history of the human kind.
Many of us think fictional tales when we hear the word story. Most stories we come across with are fictional:
- Bedtime stories we read to our children.
- Movies we watch.
- Novels we read or listen to.
Business storytelling is not fictional.
Even though it uses the same formula to stimulate emotional connection between the listener and the business story, they must be based on the truth and be authentic to your business.
Organizations and businesses have hundreds of stories to tell!
When we work with clients to dig our their stories, we often here: “We don’t have any stories!”
“Yes you do”, we say!
Every organization has stories. Even startups with just the founder have many stories to tell.
The founder’s or the recognized CEO’s story is in fact, probably one of the most common business stories! There are countless of autobiographies, biographies and other business stories made into books for us to read and enjoy.
Using business storytelling in talent marketing and employer branding
I chose storytelling as one of the key elements in the Magnetic Employer Branding Method (Vaikuttava Työnantajabrändi in Finnish) I developed in 2017.
Already back then, with the saturation of content marketing, it was getting harder and harder for talent acquisition and marketing to create messages that captured the attention of the talent audiences.
Having had studied storytelling already for a couple of years back then, I knew there is no better way to start solving this problem than focusing on how to create better content: content that will be understood, is interesting and inspires action.
Example: Four types of business stories
In her book Stories for Work, author Gabrielle Dolan outlines four types of stories for what she called a Business Story Wheel.
Stories of Triumph are stories about achievements. These could be your (businesses) achievements or how your business helped others to succeed.
Stories of Tragedy refer to stories where something tragic happened in the past which gave an essential lesson to the person it happened to. In the story, you share that key lesson to others who might be looking for a way out from the same or similar tragedy.
Stories of Tension are about conflicts driven by your business culture, values, obligations and loyalties. The tension becomes evident in the moments when you need to make a decision that causes a value-based conflict.
Stories of Transition are often times a (raw) documentation of a journey, including the feelings and emotions, struggles and personal victories achieved during that transition-journey.
Why stories work so well in business communication?
Most business communication – including talent marketing – is focused on stating facts, sharing company-related news or communicating features of products and services or requirements for a vacancy.
Typical business communication is not written to be interesting and relevant to external audiences. The way we communicate in business and talent marketing centers around what we internally see as interesting and important.
But are we sure our external audiences feel the same?
Stories make us think about the audience, the listener.
When you learn a storytelling formula – any formula – you will come to understand the difference between the hero and the guide in the story, and why a business should always position as the guide, not as the hero.
Stories work so well in business communication, because when we follow a story formula, our messages:
- Become better understood by the recipient.
- Get and keep the attention of our target audience.
- Inspire the members in the audience to take the action we want them to take as a result of hearing or reading our message.
No other form of communication is able to do this. Not in business and not outside business. The power of story is scientifically proven.
Listen to episode #46 of Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast
In this episode of Building a Modern Employer Brand -podcast, I introduce you to business storytelling. This episode is part 2 in the 3-part miniseries about storytelling in this podcast.
💡 What is business storytelling?
💡 The value of business storytelling.
⏱ 30:48 min
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