Storytelling for Small Businesses

Written by Vicki Powers

As a small business, you have an incredible level of competency at the things you do –delivering services or making products. But how do you translate that into an engaging story that represents your expertise? Much of it boils down to connection and emotion.

It’s human nature to want to do business with people you can relate to, and stories help customers get that behind-the-scenes’ view. Small business storytelling is simple in theory: leading potential customers to know, like, and trust you by sharing personal stories and significant moments in your brand’s content. The challenge is garnering the right story that’s filled with emotion to ultimately drive action.

At MPD, we’re big believers in key messages and drilling down to understand your value. It’s not only what our company is based on but also a core first step we take with each client. In fact, we’ve developed our own proprietary key message workshop and put it into action. We added to our skills’ arsenal when Amy Knickerbocker on our team trained in StoryBrand by Donald Miller. It’s been a total gamechanger on how we craft messages to understand and create an emotional connection with both prospects and clients.

Understanding the Why

Why is storytelling for small businesses different than large enterprises? A recent MarketMuse webinar outlined one reason:

Small businesses (SMBs) tend to stop at differentiated features.

They might get to the point of what’s special about them but not take it to the next level by tying it into a narrative. They get stuck in the outputs – like the blog, social, or video.

The focus should go beyond you and your business’s features and benefits. It’s talking about yourself as a company in an engaging way. Communicate who you are and what you do in ways people understand quickly. Make a connection to customers by empathizing with their fears or needs.

Stories are more compelling – and more memorable – than statistics. While both are important to convey, psychologist Jerome Bruner says a fact wrapped in a story is 22 times more memorable than just stating the fact.

Small businesses want to sell, but they also understand that community relationships are important. What better way to build community than to connect more emotionally with customers?

Putting it into Action

Michelle Knight, CEO and founder of Brandmerry, has boiled storytelling down to three strategies she uses as a small business owner:

  1. Review your brand values:

    People do business with companies that share the same values. Knight believes organizations should authentically share stories that align with their values and that brands should both attract and repel people. “Communicating your values through storytelling is a smart and necessary business move,” she writes in Entrepreneur.

  2. Find stories that are important to your audience:

    Knight collects her own story ideas in a file called her story bank. If the story isn’t important to her audience, however, it doesn’t serve a purpose in her business. The idea of “importance” can come in many forms from motivation, education, inspiration, or entertainment.

  3. Take some time before sharing stories:

    Personal stories shared in a business setting can be a guide to others going through a similar situation. But there must be some time and perspective for it to be beneficial. Sharing during the “mess” isn’t the best time.

If storytelling sounds like the next step for your small business, reach out to MPD to help you with your storytelling and messaging work. Learn how it can be a powerful way to build connections.