The Importance of Story
Often when considering business blogging one objective that is neglected is the importance of story telling. Every business, no matter what it is, has a story to tell.
Story is so critical both in how companies define themselves and even more so in how your customers and your potential customers grasp your business.
Of course the flip side of story is that it is not the most easy thing to tell. How often have you tripped up when being asked to define your business? How often have you changed your elevator pitch? How often have you gone back to revise your About Page only to see that what you had originally had on your site was in some way severely lacking? So while story is critical for a successful business blog, it also happens to be a very hard thing for most of us to put our finger on.
Where to Begin?
When addressing how to best integrate story into your business blog it is important to first define the story you want to tell. Defining a story for a business blog is not the same as “storytelling”. Storytelling is literally that art of telling stories. Whereas when talking about your business, the story of your business encompasses so much more than storytelling.
What is the Story of a Business?
Let’s consider the entire makeup of the “story” of your business. We are talking about the entire DNA of your company and how to display that DNA in a way that when looked at in aggregate we are then able to know the entire story of your company.
Stories are certainly a component of how you tell your story. But so are customer testimonials. And so is pricing. And you approach. And the philosophy of your business. And the philosophy of how you approach your business. And the people that work there. And the neighborhood in which you work in. And the community in which you live in. And the entire state of your industry as well as the role your particular business serves within a larger ecosystem. And why you don’t accept phone calls (to keep pricing down for everyone) versus why you do (your customers come first). And so much more. And yes, actual traditional stories can also have a role in how you project your entire business story.
Balancing Story Needs
An all too common impulse with business blogging is to succumb to the pressure of trying to make every post a tent pole from which you can define your entire business. And while there is a role for tent pole level posts, the reality is every post you write when blogging for your business is in fact contributing to a much larger tent – the the story of your business.
Instead of being hyper focused on the immediate value of every post a better long term strategy is to devote a greater amount of focus to the overall value of your entire blog. That is not to say that you get a free pass to not worry about each individual blog post, but you should be considering each blog post within the larger picture of your entire blogging presence as well as on the individual merits of each post. This is also a strategy that will not leave you “fad chasing” because the thing about fads is that they come and go.
Machines Do Not Read Stories…
In particular I have seen all to often that business owners go through a very specific evolution in how they blog – and eventually they land at a place where they have read the experts and they are now ready to “optimize”. Of course more often than not when you read about “optimization” the intent is focused on machines, algorithms and companies (more and more that means Google) instead of “optimization” for humans.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a huge factor in how successful a business blog is, but there are a number of other factors as well – and in my estimation story should rank up near the top.
Another great aspect of injecting story into your business blog is that while you are telling your story, you are also providing your readers with a critical emotional touchstone from which they can more fully relate to your company. We often use the power of story in so many aspects of our everyday lives but for many business owners the idea of injecting story into their business somehow feels like a tremendous leap. The truth is actually the opposite of that – not injecting story into your business blog is in fact an act of madness.
Story Telling And Big Brands
The tools and technology of today have actually allowed businesses of every size to be able to tell a story – and in many cases a large size is often an impediment to telling a very compelling story. Big businesses know this and they are doing everything they can to make sure that their story is being told on multiple levels across multiple screens – that is why they are now blogging, on Facebook, on Twitter and are even active in some market specific forums. The truth is access as a consumer has never been greater.
That said a couple of companies that really seem to have a good grasp on their story might include:
Learn from them. The truth is smart businesses have discovered the power of telling their business story through blogging.
Brick and Mortar Versus Digital
If you are still on the fence, let’s try to view this issue from the context of an entirely different experience – actually heading into a store.
Have you ever walked into a brick and mortar store of any kind and not been able to in some way take away some semblance of story from that operation? What they sell. What is one the walls. How they decorate their windows. Their signage. How they greet you at the door. How the staff is dressed. The age of the staff. Is the owner there or not. Do they take credit cards or is it cash only? How expensive is this store relative to other stores.
All these items, in addition to many more, all have a huge impact on how you as a consumer feel about each store – they are in effect issues that all combine to form the “story” of that store, and over time you as a consumer use that story to help inform and shape your purchasing behavior.
Online it is no different.
When you head to a site that is a mess you don’t want to be there. When you visit a site that is lacking in personality you also are less likely to want to be there because as a visitor it is harder to connect. When you visit a site that represents a position you don’t agree with you are likely to quickly leave.
These factors quickly add up to the story of a business and again, depending on how you position these factors, you are in effect positioning the overall story of your business.
Often when I sit with clients we engage in a process where I as the consultant need to get up to speed on the story of a business. What are the goals? Where is the future? What excites the principals in the organization? Notable achievements?
This is often a great conversation as I get to see with my own eyes the immense pride that my clients have for their businesses. It truly is great and if you have ever had a similar conversation with a business owner than you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Of course when we then shift back to their digital presence more often than not I ask how come I am not seeing this pride and passion in the way they communicate on their site? The answer usually lies somewhere in the reality that as a business owner they simply did not know better or that they somehow allowed the “internet” to intimidate them. Or even worse, their primary objective in initially building their website was elsewhere and by the time they got into it their business blog it became an afterthought.
Of course as we continue to work together we quickly remedy this. And so too can you – it is okay to be proud of your company, your staff and of achievements. And you know what – these attributes are great additions to any business story!
Image Credit: Apple Store – Apple