Tell the world the story of your business

A story, well-told, appeals to children around the world. It's a human universal. In every culture children ask to be told a good story, they fall asleep to bedtime stories, they play together and create stories.

Stories have the power to delight, educate, inspire and emotionally connect people to each other.

Why don't businesses harness the power of storytelling to position their products or services? All businesses, especially small businesses, should use storytelling as a technique that draws consumers closer.

People love to binge watch TV, read compelling books or listen to podcasts. Beyond entertainment, storytelling starts to become something of a lost art to many adults.

All too often in business, dry, awkward language takes the place of clear, well-written content. Phrases like "let's talk offline" or "we're leveraging benefits for our consumers" or "creating value" and other antiseptic phrases become the standard language on websites, in brochures, reports or other written content offered to customers and peers.

What place does storytelling have in business? It has a big place. Businesses simply have to commit to sharing great stories to sell their products or services.

Ask someone what they know about Steve Jobs and they might say "he was unconventional, a genius," "he tinkered in his garage and created a new computer" or "he was a ruthless businessman." People often can speak about Steve Jobs as if they met him. Apple has been masterful in the ways it has harnessed storytelling to create connections with consumers in ways most brands have never attempted.

Ask someone what they know about Coca-Cola and they might say "the recipe is a secret," "it once had cocaine in it" or "The U.S. Army served it to troops on the front lines during war to let soldiers know home was not so far away" and so on. People may not even drink it, but they know all about the company and its impact on many moments in history.

Like Apple, Coca-Cola uses storytelling to evoke strong feelings in consumers and drive their business and brand forward in the minds of the public. It's marketing genius, and the smaller business owner can learn from this approach to engaging audience.

Apple computers and Coca-Cola are just two corporations masterfully using the power of storytelling to bind customers close to the brand, the products and the "experience" of each company.

Smaller businesses, independent businesses and organizations from any channel can learn to use storytelling to create much stronger consumer feelings for products and services. The trick is to cease using antiseptic jargon and employ well-written, plain language that's drafted to tell the story at hand.

Think about the experience of a typical consumer who is looking for a real estate agent, an insurance broker, a bakery, a mechanic or virtually any other service or store. Can they readily tell what sets one enterprise apart from others in the same channel?

Does the copy on a website or in a brochure really tell a compelling story or is it bland and laden with jargon or lackluster phrasing? Could someone look at your sales materials, read them and then retell someone else what makes your products or services the best in your field?

When businesses adopt intentional storytelling for their marketing efforts they connect more meaningfully with their audience. And this, my friends, is very good for business.

• Rebecca Hoffman is the founder and principal of Good Egg Concepts, a strategic communications and brand marketing consulting practice serving clients around Chicagoland and nationally.

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