The Purpose of Storytelling in Business

The term "storytelling" is used a lot today. Maybe you feel like it's overused. Maybe you aren't exactly sure what it means. Maybe you think it's a catch phrase that will fade away next year like every other fad.

Today I want to explain why storytelling is important for every part of your business or organization. 

The Art of Storytelling

We like to think of ourselves as visual storytellers. Through years of experience, we have honed in on the elements of a good story, and have learned how to compile them in a way that is visually beautiful and emotionally compelling. 

We could try to come up with the perfect way to explain this... Or we could refer to one of the best books ever written on this topic... Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. At Sleekfire we use the truths found in this book in almost every project we work on. Donald explains that as humans, we are naturally drawn to stories. It's the way our minds work. People are constantly distracted by phones and social media; however, have you ever noticed that when those same people walk into a theater to watch a movie, they leave their phones alone and time seems to stand still? It's because they are entering into a story. And our minds love stories. They naturally grab our attention.

As a business owner, or anyone who needs to get a message out, I'm sure you understand the importance of attention. When marketing a product or service, you need to be where the attention is. Storytelling is simply a method to grab people's attention so that you can build a relationship that brings value to their life. And maybe, just maybe, they will end up returning the favor by becoming a customer.

The Elements of a Story

Ok, so what is a story made of? Every good story has a character (or characters), a hero, conflict, a guide who helps them through the conflict, and a resolution to the story.

If you take away any one of those elements, you greatly reduce the effectiveness of the story. For example, if you write a story about a man who is perfectly content and has all that he needs in life and lives happily ever after, it probably won't get read. It's boring because there is no conflict involved. If you wrote a story about a woman who doesn't have any friends and dies alone, you would have the same problem. Although she has conflict, there is no guide to help her through the situation, and there is no resolution to the story. 

You have to find the perfect balance of these elements to create a story that is worth sharing and experiencing. 

When creating photos and videos for businesses, we keep these elements in mind and define them before we even start the planning process.

You're the Guide, Not the Hero

One of the biggest things we keep in mind is that the customer is the hero of the story, not the company. This is a tough concept for a lot of people! If you look at the marketing of most small businesses, you will see the same thing over and over again...

"Buy our product!"

"We're the best in town!"

"You'll love what we have to offer!"

Us, us, us...

Most businesses, large or small, make themselves the hero of the story instead of the customer. 

Most businesses, large or small, make themselves the hero of the story instead of the customer.

As Donald continues to explain in his book, as a business, you are the guide who can help your customer on their journey. If you focus on this alone, I believe your brand will grow. 

We like to look at exactly what conflict a customer is facing and how the business can help guide the customer through that conflict and on to resolution of the story.

For example, if a furniture store contacted us to create a video for them, here's what our thought process might look like.

While traditional marketing would simply make a video talking about how great the furniture is, and the quality of the materials used, and how they sell the best furniture in the city, we would simply focus on the customer. What problems are they facing? When they have guests at their house, how do they want them to feel when using the furniture? When they come home from a long day of work and collapse onto the couch, what kind of experience do they want? 

What traditional marketing fails to understand is that this furniture company isn't selling furniture at all. They're selling comfort.

So we would make a video highlighting that. We would show people using the furniture. People enjoying wine with friends on the couch, eating dinner as a family while sitting at the table, a couple snuggling in bed while the sun goes down. Then we would end with a phrase that communicates the comfort a customer will experience when using furniture from this store.

It's as simple as that. Focus on the customer. Not on yourself. Position yourself as the guide in your customer's story who can help them resolve their conflict. By doing this, you will grab their attention and, most likely, they will do business with you too.


Do you own a business? Do you need help creating content that actually grows your following and raises your revenue? We’d love to talk with you. Click below to get a free quote that will give you a better idea of how we can help.

Ethan PainterComment