The Real Purpose of Business Storytelling

The Real Purpose of Business Storytelling

Earlier today, I was meeting with someone as part of my #CoffeeADay Initiative. If you’re not familiar with it, my #CoffeeADay Initiative consists of me having one cup of coffee with one person every day. After our conversation, I create a post where I tell a little bit of that person’s story.

So today, Gene and I sat down for coffee. We happen to be friends and we have a number of friends and acquaintances in common. Eventually, this morning’s conversation turned to the subject of a LinkedIn expert we both know.

Let’s just say that Gene isn’t a fan. Not unlike me, this LinkedIn expert focuses on storytelling when she helps professionals improve and optimize their LinkedIn profiles.

Gene isn’t buying it. 

He complains that the stories she crafts are too “flowery.” He contends that no one that is scanning your LinkedIn profile cares about whether or not you love football of fly fishing. In many contexts I agree with him. 

If someone gives me a puzzled look when I start talking about business storytelling, I tell them that I help craft and tell stories that are designed to meet organizational goals and objectives … storytelling with a purpose.

For me, that’s where we cross over into business storytelling. You and your marketing team can craft the most engaging stories ever heard by man, but if they don’t do something to further your cause, to meet your goals and objectives, then you have a hobby … not business storytelling. 

That may be the context where Gene’s objection to the LinkedIn stories is valid. If flowery, football and fly fishing stories don’t accomplish a specific goal, they’ve missed their purpose. If you’re a professional in an outdoor products or sports related field, they may be completely valid.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of college students. They’re on the cusp of graduating with marketing degrees. Many will be on the job market soon. The best piece of advice I thought I could give them was: 

“At some point in the near future, you’re going to get a job. One day you’ll be sitting there in your cubicle or at your desk or in the coffee shop or wherever it is that you’ll work and somebody is going to come up to you. It’s going to be the CEO of your company or your Manager or your Chief Marketing Officer and they’re going to want to know why they’re paying you to do what you do. Unfortunately, if you can’t relate your work directly to the organizational goals or objectives of the company, then your job may be in jeopardy. If you can’t explain your value to the organization, you may be in trouble. 

But .. 

If you’re able to say: ‘One of our organization’s goals is to get more volunteers to come out to the tree planting event next weekend, so I created this email campaign with a call to action that drives our audience to the signup page on our website. It looks like we’ll have at least twice as many volunteers this month as we did last.’ your job is probably secure. You’ve proven your value to the organization.”

That’s the approach I take to business storytelling. That’s the qualifier. Whether we’re talking about your overall story arc or a Facebook post, every story must be crafted with your goals and objectives in mind. If you’re simply writing or posting or recording videos at random, you need to adjust (or maybe develop) your marketing storytelling strategy.

Tell stories with a purpose!

For more on the power of great brand storytelling, check out Why Storytelling Sells. It's our gift to you.

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If you'd like to talk about the best way to craft your organization's story, click this link to schedule a free call