Why Storytelling is Important in Business
Although businesses may not think of storytelling as an essential ROI feature, it is exactly this component that creates a great brand, marketing, and sales strategy.
Business storytelling is important because it can transform a mundane product or service such as a telephone or a restaurant into something extraordinary infused with personality and character. Not only that, but it has the ability to translate directly into sales and increased revenue.
Successful Businesses Built on Storytelling
Many businesses utilize storytelling such as TED and Kickstarter. These are examples of companies that thrive off stories and produce incredible revenue in return.
Most, if not all, TED Talk speakers provide powerful revelations in story form during their 10-minute talk. People are so captivated, inspired and educated from various TED Talks that they pay money to attend the conferences, for sponsorships and to buy books.
Similarly, Kickstarter is a website that raises funds for various ideas and projects from a single webpage that anyone can set up. Kickstarter shows direct ROI of business storytelling in the form of 3.6 billion dollars that has been crowdsourced since its inception – not an easy feat!
Storytelling in Business Provides Purpose
Purpose drives almost everything that humans do. Whether it’s providing purpose for the day in terms of a to-do list or finding life’s ultimate purpose, humans crave meaning behind the things they do. Even if the purpose is to just have fun – there is still purpose.
When businesses infuse purpose into their storytelling, they can drive actions that lead to direct sales.
For example, it’s not a coincidence that marketers create campaigns with ‘calls to action’. It’s a direct way that they can see how their marketing messages and stories are converting to actions. When purpose is woven into businesses stories, calls to action perform much higher.
Business Storytelling Cultivates Customer Loyalty
Storytelling can show why people should invest in your product instead of another company’s product. When done correctly, storytelling in business provides a promise to its customers and, in turn, cultivates customer loyalty.
Customers start to identify with the story and the people behind the business. When customers can identify with the story they are better able to advocate for the business and explain exactly why they love it.
Let’s assess megabrand Apple as an example. Most people not only identify with the founder Steve Jobs (he’s been quoted an incredible amount of times), but also the story he created around Apple products – Macs, iPads, and iPhones.
Apple’s business storytelling includes the promise of constant progress, innovation and quality. There is trust and loyalty for its products regardless of the industry. We can see this in action right now as Apple has recently decided to dive into private healthcare.
Emotional Storytelling Increases ROI
Many companies rely on analytics and providing statistics about their products to differentiate themselves. Although facts and data are important, the human brain is proven to be more receptive to stories.
Let’s look at the non-profit world. Many marketing departments use facts, data, and stories to raise funds to talk about the overwhelming need in the world. However, donation rates are higher when the marketing material focuses on an emotional connection developed around one person’s story.
University of Pennsylvania did a case study with a non-profit, Save the Children, that showed emotional storytelling won over analytics. When the marketing material featured one little girl who needed sponsorship, it allowed donors to connect with the girl’s story. It humanized the need and created an emotional response allowing donors to realize that they can make a difference for one child.
In the end, those who read the story of the little girl donated almost twice as much -- $2.38 over $1.43 -- than those who read the statistics of all the children who needed aid.
Storytelling plays a big part in business and can transform a good company into a great one. It’s important to understand how storytelling attracts and cultivates purpose in customers to create a loyal brand following. It’s not an element to take lightly when there is real, tangible evidence that it can directly increase the return on investment and revenue.