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Stories are an essential part of the human experience. In fact, after food, shelter and clothing, I’d argue stories should be the next level in that whole Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. After all, stories are the method we use to transfer emotions, experiences and ideas to one another. It’s like wi-fi of the mind. And just as storytelling can be used for entertainment, you can also use storytelling in business.

Here are 5 ways in which you can employ the techniques of storytelling in business:

  1. Branding – Your brand is a character. Think of it as a character. What are some of its character attributes? We’re not just talking physical; we’re talking personality. Is it fun-loving and youthful? Or is it serious and conservative? Is it Harry Potter or is it Patrick Bateman?
  2. Case studies – Case studies are the epitomic marketing collateral for storytelling in business. They are stories, after all. The key is to infuse some creativity into them, just like you would any other story. Don’t make them stodgy. Build tension, inject humor, add detail. They should be fun to write and fun to read.
  3. Professional bios – Another exercise in characterization, bios should do more than just trumpet your successes. They should convey who you are as a person. The best way to do this is to incorporate the writing principle of “show don’t tell.” Don’t tell us you’re interesting. Show us you’re interesting by describing all the interesting things you do!
  4. Instructional materials – Are you trying to explain to a customer base how to use your product or service? Think about creating an instructional video that does more than the minimum. Place your audience as the protagonist (i.e., the hero) and the conflict as the problem that your product can help with. Position your product as the Excalibur (i.e., the tool that the user will use to overcome the challenge and find success). By thinking of your “how to” materials in these terms, you’ll be sure to make more appealing media that naturally attracts attention.
  5. Blogging – There are many ways in which blogs can be business storytelling vehicles. One great way to leverage a blog is to tell the story of your industry or tangential industries that are of interest to your audiences. Careerbuilder does a great job with this on their site The Hiring Blog, a blog for the HR community.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on this topic, and trust me, I can go into plenty more detail. As a marketer and a storyteller, it’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart. What other ways can you think of to use storytelling in business? Leave a comment or shoot me an email at info@keithecker.com.

2 Responses to 5 Ways to Use Storytelling in Business

  1. Pingback: An Exploration of Corporate Storytelling Practice « danielBpatton.com

  2. Hey Keith,

    Out looking for inspiration for my next blog post and saw this. One technique that I’ve been working with at Duke Fuqua School of Business is the idea of the elevator pitch. Instead of regurgitating all of your accomplishments and brief resume, tell a simple story that high-lights one accomplishment. You’ll be much more memorable and stand out from the crowd.

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