What is the secret to a compelling business story?
The first thing you need to do is have a plan. The irony of stories is they don’t write themselves, yet the real-life ones are perpetual in motion and seldom need a writer. But it was left to the genius of Alfred Hitchcock to explain that ‘great stories are life with all the boring bits taken out.’
So we can surmise that the telling of stories is the real art. And that means the storyteller has two roles in the process. Spotting the difference between a good story and a dull one, and crafting said story so their readers will want to consume its riches.
When it comes to business writing, you need to address your stories to your ideal customers. After all, the value of a good story is in the eye of the reader. And that means relevance comes very much into play. Once you have identified who you are writing for, you can start to plan the narrative. And here are a few of the features you might want to employ in bringing the best out of your words.
Four features of an engaging business story:
1: Connection: Your customers’ issues will always matter more to them than what you want to sell. Craft your story around their hopes and fears and the values they care about. Think about the brands you love and the way their stories make you feel: Then identify the connection.
2: Intrigue: ‘In medias res’ is the art of starting a story in the middle or at a moment of high drama. Curiosity is in our DNA and is why stories have kept the world turning for millennia. Experiment with different ways of stimulating your next best client’s ‘need to know’.
3. Heroes: Every good story needs a hero! The underdog comes good, a brave act saves the day, changing someone’s life, or an act of kindness from a stranger. Introduce your reader to people they can identify with and actions they can aspire to emulate. Better still: Cast a client in the role of hero in your story.
4: Attractive: Make your story readable and relevant. Don’t use exponentially exorbitant expressions just for the sake of it 😉 but don’t be boring either. Create a flowing narrative to reflect the real you. Think, plan, carefully craft, but most of all: Be authentic.
Of course, there are many more ideas to consider, but I hinted at my most valuable piece of advice in the first of these four. Look at what works for you when you are playing the part of a customer. The last time an advert made you smile or caused you to click, what was it that caught your mind or eye? When you searched out a gift or a solution to a business problem recently, how did you decide what to buy?
Instead of just being a customer, start analysing why. Think about the storyline you followed and how different approaches made you feel. Look at the words they used, the flow of the message and how they won your trust before they nudged your wallet.
If you want any help, give me a shout. In the meantime – happy story-analysing.