The Importance of Storytelling for your Social Impact Business

Storytelling

This month, we’ve been exploring the tools and techniques to get your business off the ground.

We’ve talked about building up your business plan, developing your product by finding the right product-market fit, and how to use design thinking to validate your business concept and build out your offering.

One piece that we haven’t spoken about is storytelling.

Storytelling is Crucial for Businesses

When it comes to your business, the story you’re telling about who you are and what you’re doing is critical for communicating with your audience. People often overlook this, but the way we interact as humans is through storytelling.

It’s how we understand the world and see the world. Much of what we think exists in the world does not, except for the story we tell ourselves about it in our heads.

For my own personal spiritual journey, recognizing the stories that are going on in my head is a critical component of understanding what is actually happening. Until we see what we want to get rid of or the things that we crave for the stories that they are, then we’re trapped by them, and we’ll continue suffering.

Likewise, when the business does not understand its story, It gets pulled by the tide of the ocean, wherever it wants to take you. Now, while you can never fully control, what’s going to happen with a clear story that captures your vision and communicates your purpose, you can steer pretty well where you want to go.

So let’s briefly look at storytelling.

An In-depth Understanding of Storytelling

To deliver a good and compelling story, you need to remember the 4Ps:

  • People
  • Place
  • Plot
  • Purpose

1) People

The people are the characters in your story. Who is it that you’re serving? Who is it that you’re creating an impact with?

People in marketing have learned that we understand the story of one person because we can relate to them much more than a large group of people.

So if you’re delivering a social impact that’s reaching hundreds and hundreds of people, focus on the story of just one of those individuals and paint that in a light that’s easy to understand.

When I speak about the youth we work with in wild tiger tees, I like to mention how these 20-year-olds are just like the rest of us, trying to figure out their lives and what they want to do. Even if a lot of them do want to be rap stars and find their golden ticket out of their life and into a new one.

The point is to develop characters about who you’re impacting, who you’re serving. On the customer side of your business, develop an avatar of who your ideal customer is. And what their life looks like, what activities they engage in and how old they are, what their interests are aside from purely how you were serving them.

Get to know people because that’s going to help you as you develop solutions to help others.

2) Place

The place is the setting of your story. Where is it taking place?

As a social enterprise, you are creating a social impact in the world. And so there is typically a very clear place that you are delivering that impact.

Most businesses don’t have this core purpose behind them. So you’re really fortunate. Make sure you capitalize on that and describe it really well so that people know exactly how the world will become better because of what you’re doing.

3) Plot

Following up from place is the plot. What is the plot of your story as a business? This is the essence of your vision. Who are you, and how are you going to change the world? What balance are you trying to restore? And why does the world need you?

Tell us the plot of your story.

4) Purpose

Now, lastly is purpose.

Purpose is the theme, the general conflict of what’s going on. Why do you exist?

Wrapped up in this purpose should be a very clear call to action of how other people are coming together with you to make this impact in the world.

4 Quick Tips on How To Tell a Good Story

Haley Boehning from StoryForge has some excellent tips on crafting this story that you’re telling as a business.

  1. Start with talking about who you serve.
  2. Tell your audience what you stand for and against. What are your beliefs? What makes you more than just a one-dimensional business trying to sell something?
  3. Talk about what your vision is for changing the world. What are you trying to achieve an impact and really communicating that?
  4. Identify and talk about your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Why are you uniquely positioned to accomplish this? What’s so special about you that’s going to make you do this so much better than anybody else?

Now, as a side note, if you’re looking for help to craft your story, I highly recommend going to StoryForge and taking a look at their offerings. They are very good at what they do and love to work with businesses that are making an impact.

Add Some Style to Your Story

Now, one more element to the story that I haven’t touched on is style.

Style is about dialogue. It’s about how you connect with your audience and how they expect to hear messages from you. The world of social media is often a lot about what platforms people are on or where they’re congregating, and what events they’re going to.

But what element of style is also consistency in your message.

I’ve spent my life in software development, and I manage a small team of programmers that develop a cloud-based platform. Coding is very similar to storytelling. You need to have a solid structure and foundation and a very consistent voice. Otherwise, things will just turn into a big glob of spaghetti mess quicker than you can imagine.

I mentioned this because as a business, you’re not just telling a singular story, but the story of who you are is woven into how you interact with your customers, how you go about making decisions, how you reach out to your community and your stakeholders. It’s how you interact with your other employees or business partners. That style of your story is going to be the ultimate expression of who you are.

Conclusion

In this blog, we explored why you need to have a good story when you’re developing your business and what the elements of those good story are through the 4 PS: people place, plot and purpose.

We also talked about style and how having a very consistent style and voice to how you’re communicating with everyone, not just your customers, but your stakeholders, your business partners, and the community that you’re working in.

Well defined. How well you’re able to articulate your vision and get people to come together behind what you’re doing. So spend some time developing an awesome story that really describes who you are and how you’re changing the world.

Storytelling

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