Why storytelling is so powerful for businesses. Plus the six steps you need to take to create a compelling and persuasive business story
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
The story of the plot to blow up the houses of Parliament is over 400 years old. In my hometown of Lewes, we take the story of the gunpowder plot very seriously.
Every November 5th, six local bonfire societies parade through the streets of Lewes with flaming torches. Bonfire societies from all around Sussex join them for an explosive Grand Procession through the centre of town.
Following the processions, the Lewesian societies march to their respective bonfire sites. Then each set off a spectacular display of fireworks.
So what makes Lewes Bonfire always so fresh and memorable?
It’s the stories the societies weave into their processions. Everyone involved eagerly awaits news headline driven topical tableaus. Recent effigy victims include Donald Trump and David Cameron.
With this in mind, what’s the lesson in this?
Stories both written and visual help us to relate to events. They help us empathise with problems. Good stories are memorable. So you can see why storytelling is a powerful tool for business.
Stories set the context for situations and challenges. As if that’s not enough, they’re persuasive and drive action.
How can you write stories for your business?
Set the scene
Think of bonfire night, and you can paint a vivid picture of Guy Fawkes, hands tied behind his back, being taken to meet his gruesome fate.
First off your story needs to be relevant to your reader. Be clear who your reader is. How can your story help make your reader’s life better? Can your reader relate the story to its own experience?
Identify a hero
Although central to the story, Guy Fawkes is certainly no hero. His grisly fate is well known. Yet, all stories thrive on compelling characters.
For businesses, your hero can be your end customer, a supplier, or even a team member. Ask yourself:
- What are the emotions, pains or challenges your hero is feeling?
- What is the motive behind your hero’s desire to buy from you?
Outline the plot
Lewes bonfire commemorates not only the foiled gunpowder plot but also the 17 Lewesian protestant martyrs, burned at the stake between 1555 and 1557, during the Marian Persecutions.
For a business story, you also need to outline your hero’s challenges. Explain why they were important. Better still, what the impact of these challenges meant to your hero.
Every story needs a journey. The bonfire plotters had to meet in secret, build up a stash of gunpowder. Plan their attack. At every stage, the sense of urgency increased.
Apply the same principles to create suspense in your business story. What does the hero of your story stand to lose if he/she is unable to accomplish his/her goals? Describe what problems your hero faced along the way. And the steps taken to resolve them.
Identify the solution
Once your reader has bought into the challenge and has been caught up in the suspense of your story, describe what steps your hero took to find a solution.
Detail the results
The bonfire plot was foiled. The plotters were convicted of treason and put to death.
I trust your story will have a more positive end!
Go back to your challenges. Then make it clear what the results meant to the hero of your story.
End your story by letting your readers know they aren’t alone in their journeys. Let them know there are solutions to their problems.
Remember, remember, for a compelling business story that provokes a response; you need to:
- Set the scene
- Identify a hero
- Outline the plot
- Build suspense
- Identify the solution
- Describe the results
Do that, and you’ll light the touchpaper for a compelling story. Have a sizzling bonfire night. And whatever you do, be safe.
If you would like help writing persuasive communications, then do get in touch . You’ll be surprised at how straightforward writing can grab your audience’s attention.
About Claire Hawes
Claire Hawes is a marketing communications copywriter. She enjoys writing engaging copy that helps businesses to get noticed and attract enquiries. Claire’s experience mainly lies in the business to business sector. Her clients include both businesses and digital marketing agencies.