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Irish Chamber

Storytelling for Business

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

In this guest blog, Emma Hannigan, CEO of Curly Top Media shares her top ten tips to get you started on telling your business story.



Every company needs an authentic business story - 10 tips to get you started


by Emma Hannigan


Most people have no problem talking about their business but telling their story can be one of the hardest things to do.  Ironically, it is the first thing that people want to know.  Your business is not just about the work you do, it is the story behind the job.  Customers must know, like and trust you before doing business with you.  Storytelling is a highly effective way to achieve this. 


Research indicates that 78 percent of CMOs think content is the future of marketing. And two thirds of marketers think content is superior to PR, direct mail, and print advertising.  


Studies carried out at Ohio State University have empirically shown that people’s beliefs can be swayed more effectively through storytelling than through logical arguments. The researchers say that persuasion is most effective when people are "transported" to another place using a story.


  1. Can you create a great brand story if you’re not a natural storyteller? Absolutely, we are all the definitive expert when it comes to our own story and the tale of our own journey is an integral part of our brand story.  The majority of people lack confidence when it comes to writing or storytelling, in the most part this comes from criticism in the past, a lot of people have THAT teacher's voice in their head telling them that they can't do it.  In order for our story to be authentic, it has to come from us and we all have that story inside us.
  2. What’s your top tip for creating an awesome one?  For most people, the hardest part is getting started.  My top tip is, get it down on paper and be relaxed with the fact that it is a first draft and it won't be a master piece.  
  3. Can you provide some examples of companies that do an amazing job of storytelling?  Two companies come straight to mind when I think about great corporate storytelling, Guinness (not just because I grew up in Ireland!) and Nike.  In both cases, they have been capturing our imagination with story long before it became a buzz word.  They have always evoked emotion with their advertising.  In more recent times, AirBnB does a great job of putting customer stories in the centre of the brand.
  4. What can you do to get the tone absolutely right, so it represents the ‘look and feel’ that what you want for your brand?  It has to be authentic, it has to come from the heart and soul of the founder.  Being real, being vulnerable and being true to your passion for the business will ensure that the tone aligns with your, vision, mission and values.
  5. How does the position of your brand in the marketplace reflect the type of story you should create?  The story of your business will naturally evolve with the business itself.  If you are in start-up mode then you will be telling the story of your origins.  However, as you move into a more established space, you will be  telling the stories of your success and using your customers to tell your stories.
  6. Is storytelling for B2B customers the same as it is for B2C or are there distinct differences? B2B marketers can showcase expertise through thought leadership articles, offering insight into the marketplace, positioning their brands as leaders in the industry. That’s why an effective B2B content strategy is often simply about being the most respected source of industry information in your field. On the other hand, a B2C customer is more driven by emotional triggers, we want consumers to feel.
  7. Can you provide an example of how you can use your story for brand awareness and lead gen? Our presence on social media is a must and we cannot simply be a company, our customers expect to know us, like us and trust us.  Your story is a vital part of this, you have to have a genuine and authentic presence on social media if you want to do business nowadays.  People care much less about whether you have an MBA than they do about why you were inspired to start your business.
  8. What’s one great way you can use it to retain customers?  People do business with people, not with companies.  By having a story that your customers can related to and be engaged with, you are increasing your brand loyalty and customer retention.
  9. How can you tell if the story you've created is working or if it needs tweaking?  It is important to have other people review your story.  When we are immersed in a business it can be easy to get technical or use too much jargon.  Get your mentors and trusted advisors to read it and give constructive feedback.
  10. Does a brand story have to be written? Are any companies doing things differently? Video is huge these days, think of all the video that pops up on your facebook feed.  Video is a great resource for getting your brand story out to customers.  Lots of businesses are also using podcasts as a way of connecting with customers.  Instagram is also a good resource for photo and now video content.  That is the joy of the digital age, we have so many resources at our disposal.
Emma Hannigan
Storytelling for Business