How To Tell A Story, And Why It Matters As A Business

Think of your favourite story. Maybe it's a novel, maybe it's a movie, maybe it's even a piece of art. Chances are there is consistent structure running through all of them, no matter what form they take. While every good story might not end with the beautiful girl getting saved by a guy in armour, there are a lot of things consistent in how humans tell stories. 

Because before stories were a thing that were put in books and sold as entertainment, they were how we understood the world as humans. They were how we passed on ideas, knowledge, how we educated the generations to come. In other words, to tell stories is something fundamentally human, that we've done for as long as we've existed as a species. 

So what are these common threads in stories? Generally speaking, there's a protagonist, or a hero, they've got a problem, but they can't overcome it by themselves, they're in need of some outside help. They need a guide. Let's take one of my favourite stories as an example, Star Wars. Our young hero Luke Skywalker is set to save the galaxy, become a master Jedi and all those other cool things but he can't get there by himself. While the movie is about young Luke, he doesn't have everything in himself to be able to fulfil all that he wants to. He needs a Yoda. Yoda is not the hero of this story, he's just a guide. But without Yoda, Luke Skywalker would never be able to do all that he wanted to do. Big thanks to Donald Miller of StoryBrand for sharing this with me.

Now, what I want to do is take that framework of story and apply it to business. Sound good? The first thing you need to ask your self is who am I in this story, and where do I fit? Often, businesses say they're the hero of the story. But that's where they fall short. You're actually supposed to be the guide. Your customers are the hero of your brand story. They're they ones with the problem, whatever that might be, maybe a website, maybe they just need a cup of coffee. As a business, we want to be able to help our customers solve their problems and fulfil all they want to be. 

At this point you might be like alright alright, I can see that. But what does that really mean? Well, if you really get this, it should change everything. It will change the way you talk about your business, it will change the way you talk to your customers. How many times have you gone to a website and it's like the business is more interested in themselves than they are in helping you, a customer, solve your problem? They're spending all this time talking about how great they are, or about how their granddad started the company. While this might make them feel good about themselves. As customers, what does this do for us? I'm not one for throwing out history, but instead of leading with the background of the business, just put it somewhere else, and just highlight that you've been in business for 60 years. Because ultimately the story about your granddad is just another way of saying, we're experienced, you can trust us. 

What else could this mean? Maybe instead of leading with, we're the best. Say something that's oriented around your customer's problem. For us at OneToo, that means saying we make beautiful  websites to help your business grow. We don't say, we're they best ever. We say, we make really good websites for you and your business, and we believe that your business will grow because of it. 

So orient your communications around this idea of your customer as the hero, and you as the guide. Frame your communication around helping them solve their problems. Speak to them on their level. Talking fancy might make us sound good but unless our customers can understand it, we're just talking gibberish. 

If we at OneToo are just talking gibberish, please let us know. On the other hand, if you want help to clarify your communication and position yourself to be the guide and see your customers succeed, touch base with us. We'd love to help you out, and help you succeed for that matter too. 

Marcel McCarthy

Melbourne, Australia

I am a New Zealander. I have lots of nerdy facts in my head because I listen to way too many podcasts. I appreciate good socks.